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International Conference “In the Shadow of the Cold War." - 8-9 October 2015
International terrorism paralyzed the societies of Western Europe in the 70's and 80's. Aircraft hijackings, bombings, and assassinations were part of daily, brutal reality. The hostile acts were organized by separatist movements, leftists, rightists, and Middle-Eastern terrorist organizations. The Communist mass media propaganda often alleged that international terrorism was a result of social inequality and instability in capitalist states. In contrast to Western Europe, the countries ruled by Communist parties were presented as oases of calm where the threat of terrorism did not exist.
After the fall of the Iron Curtain several former Soviet bloc countries declassified their records from the security apparatus archives. The new sources proved that most of the Communist Secret Service agencies had maintained informal relations with various terrorist and extremist organizations, such as for example Abu Nidal's Organization, the Palestine Liberation Organization, Carlos ("The Jackal's”) group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Red Army Faction and the Red Brigades. The Communist authorities allowed them to conduct terrorist activities, gave them safe transit and visas, supplied them with arms, and turned a blind eye to their business ventures. Hence, the platform of their cooperation was quite wide. In return, the Communist Secret Services benefited from these contacts by getting access to embargoed goods, and used terrorists as arms brokers or for gathering intelligence information. The declassification of former security apparatus files has also demonstrated that the Communist states were in fact not free from domestic and international terrorism.
The 25th anniversary of the Autumn of Nations (1989) provides a great opportunity to analyze the phenomenon of international terrorism during the Cold War period. Why did countries ruled by the Communists cooperate with terrorist organizations? Were their secret ties based on ideological, geopolitical or economic grounds? What was the role of the USSR in such collaborations? Did the authorities in Moscow recommend contacts with terrorists, or was it left as an individual matter for every government? Was terrorism perceived as a useful tool to destabilize Western countries? The least known aspects are related to the extreme manifestations of social resistance to the Communist authorities, which could be interpreted as domestic terrorism.
The conference has been organized by the Institute of National Remembrance – Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation.