Cover Osteuropa 9/2012

In Osteuropa 9/2012

Productive Misunderstandings
Jazz in the Eastern Bloc

Rüdiger Ritter

Deutsche Fassung


During the East-West conflict, Voice of America broadcast Willis Conover’s jazz show. This programme inspired millions of people in the socialist countries. It was an instrument of public diplomacy, a weapon of propaganda directed against an ideological opponent. Conover created a community of fans beyond the Iron Curtain, contributed to the promotion of jazz in the Soviet sphere of influence and to East-West exchange, and created room for individual freedom for people in the Communist sphere of influence. But, contrary to the programme’s intentions, Conover’s activities ultimately had a stabilizing effect on the Communist system.

(Osteuropa 9/2012, pp. 97–112)