Dominik Smyrgala – The Image of the CIA in the Film and Literature of the Communist People’s Republic of Poland

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Event Date: 29 April – 1 May 2011
East Midlands Conference Centre
University of Nottingham  
University Park
Nottingham NG7 2RJ



Landscapes of Secrecy: The CIA in History, Fiction and Memory


Dominik Smyrgala (Collegium Civitas) – The Image of the CIA in the Film and Literature of the Communist People’s Republic of Poland

When Poland got under the Soviet influence and became a communist state in 1944/1945, perception of the West in the Polish art and culture changed dramatically. As in all totalitarian states, the art became a part of the state’s propaganda machine and it had to serve purposes of the regime. Since that moment the West became the enemy and therefore its image presented in the media had to meet certain political requirements. This applies particularly to the Western intelligence services (the greatest villain being of course the CIA). This can be observed in some of the popular TV series e.g. Stawka wieksza niz zycie (Stakes higher than life), films such as Orzel i reszka (literally Heads or tails but the title in Polish is a very suggestive wordplay) or books e.g. Wywiad czy mafia (Is this intelligence or mafia?). This paper’s aim is to analyse these three case studies from the point of view of the Cold War political rivalry and the needs of the communist propaganda.

Dominik Smyrgala is Assistant Professor at Collegium Civitas, Warsaw, Poland. He is the author of numerous publications on the topic of energy security, the Balkan states and the history of intelligence, including one of the first articles ever to be written in Polish on the Venona papers. At present he is working on and a non-fiction book on the Soviet disinformation and Active Measures. His PhD thesis on the petroleum diplomacy of the Latin American states is to be published soon as a book. .

Contact information: Faculty of International Relations, Collegium Civitas, pl. Defilad 1, 12th floor, 00-901 Warsaw, Poland.

E-mail: dominik.smyrgala@collegium.edu.pl

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