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Radio and the Performance of Government

Radio and the Performance of Government

Broadcasting by the Czechoslovaks in Exile in London, 1939–1945

Harrison, Erica

subjects: history – 20th century

paperback, 274 pp., 1. edition
published: september 2023
ISBN: 978-80-246-5521-5
recommended price: 540 czk



Throughout the Second World War, the Czechoslovak Government-in-Exile broadcast over the BBC from London, hoping to reach out to their former compatriots living in a divided and occupied Europe. As the only way of projecting their authority, President Beneš and his colleagues relied on the radio as a stage on which to perform as the government they wished to be, representing a Czechoslovak state they hoped to recreate after the war. Despite a ban on listening to foreign broadcasts in the German-occupied Protectorate and Slovakia, many tuned in to hear ‘London calling’ and the broadcasts provided the strongest connection between the London Czechoslovaks and the audience at home.

This work examines this government programme for the first time, making use of previously unstudied archival sources to examine how the exiles understood their mission and how their propaganda work was shaped by both British and Soviet influences. This study assesses the strengths, weaknesses, and limitations of the government’s radio propaganda as they navigated the complexities of exile, with chapters examining how they used the radio to establish their own authority, how they understood the past and future of a Czechoslovak nation, and how they struggled to include Slovakia and Subcarpathian Ruthenia within it.