U.S. Apologizes to Poland for Radio Slap

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Times Staff Writer

The U.S. government apologized to Poland on Wednesday for a broadcast by Radio Free Europe that, in a heavy-handed attempt at humor that left Warsaw unamused, compared Polish Premier Wojciech Jaruzelski with Adolf Hitler.

“The U.S. government dissociates itself from that broadcast and regrets any implication of similarity between Nazi Germany and present-day Poland, and particularly between Adolf Hitler and Gen. Jaruzelski,” State Department spokesman Alan Romberg said, reading from a prepared statement.

“Although Radio Free Europe receives funds from the U.S. Congress, it is not a U.S. government agency, nor is it subject to editorial censorship by the U.S. government,” Romberg said. “We learned of the broadcast in question after it was aired.”


‘Propaganda Gangsterism’ Romberg was responding to a complaint by Polish government spokesman Jerzy Urban, who on Tuesday branded the broadcast “propaganda gangsterism.” He said Poland could not seriously consider Washington’s announced interest in improved relations unless Radio Free Europe was restrained.

A U.S. official said the broadcast apparently was taken word for word, without credit, from a magazine published in Paris by Polish emigres. The item was contained in a satirical issue of the magazine, but Radio Free Europe did not tell its listeners that the broadcast was intended as a joke.

The broadcast Jan. 7 was purported to be a speech given by Hitler to members of his National Socialist Party in 1939, the year his government signed a nonaggression pact with the Soviet Union. The announcer described the broadcast as “a cubbyhole of recollections dedicated to W. Jaruzelski.” It was the only reference to the Polish leader.

Undoubtedly Phony The speech, replete with parallels to conditions in present-day Poland, is undoubtedly a phony because some of the topics refer to events that did not happen in Germany until after 1939. Nevertheless, the broadcast apparently touched a responsive chord in many anti-government Poles.

Radio Free Europe, once a CIA operation, now is financed openly by the U.S. government and is supervised by the presidentially appointed Board for International Broadcasting. It broadcasts in six languages to Eastern Europe from a transmitter in Munich. It has no connection with the Voice of America, the government’s official radio outlet, which broadcasts around the world.