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The Berlin Radio War: Broadcasting in Cold War Berlin and the Shaping of Political Culture in Divided Germany 1945-1961
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This dissertation explores how German radio journalists shaped political culture in the two postwar Germanys. Specifically, it examines the development of broadcast news reporting in Berlin during the first sixteen years of the Cold War, focusing on the reporters attached to the American sponsored station RIAS Berlin and the radio stations of the German Democratic Republic. During this period, radio stations on both sides of the Iron Curtain waged a media war in which they fought to define the major events of the early Cold War. The tension between objectivity and partisanship in both East and West Berlin came to define this radio war. Radio stations constantly negotiated this tension in an attempt to encourage listeners to adopt a specific political worldview and forge a bond between broadcaster and listener. Whereas East German broadcasters ultimately eschewed objectivity in favor of partisan news reporting defined by Marxist-Leninist ideology, RIAS attempted to combine factual reporting with concerted efforts to undermine the legitimacy of the German Democratic Republic. The study contributes to a number of fields of study. First, I contribute to scholarship that has examined the nature, development, and influence of political culture. Related to this, the study considers how political ideas were received and understood by listeners. This work also adds to a growing field of scholarship that goes beyond examining the institutional histories of Germany's broadcasters and analyzes how German broadcasters influenced society itself. Related to this, the dissertation adds to the historiography on how the United States used media outlets as a means of fighting the Cold War. The dissertation is based on archival research done in Germany and the United States. It draws on files from the Deutsches Rundfunkarchiv in Babelsberg, the Bundesarchv in Berlin and Koblenz, the Landesarchiv in Berlin, the archive of the former East German Ministry for State Security in Berlin, and the National Archives and Records Administration in College Park, MD.