On May 2, 1952, at 11 A.M., Radio Free Europe's first broadcast to Poland, as the "Voice of Free Poland," from the new studios in RFE's broadcast center in Munich, and from four new short-wave transmitters on the 25, 31, 41 and 49 meter bands. On February, 2, 2012, the Polish Senate declared May 2012, "the month on the Polish Section of Radio Free Europe." The Senate resolution read, in part:
The Polish section of the Radio Free Europe began broadcasting on the 3rd of May 1952. At the time it had a privilege to be called The Voice of Free Poland, reaching from abroad. It would pass a censor-free messages to compatriots, the messages impossible to be found in the censored mass media. It was reminding Polish people of their independent past as well as setting resistance against communist violence and falsification of the reality. The Polish word from behind the iron curtain was fulfilling people with hope.
The Radio was created thanks to the then-authorities of the United States of America’ foresight policy and thanks to Polish emigrants, who joined the RFE, and to whom the Polish independence was of the utmost importance. We are grateful for the financial help and organisational support from the USA’s government. We are grateful to the Poles in Exile for their perseverance, work, and unparallel devotion to their country and countrymen. We appreciate the braveness of Poles who supported the work of the RFE.
Throughout its existence, Radio Free Europe Polish Service was sustaining and shaping social and cultural consciousness of the Polish people. It was building up on Polish patriotism. It would prepare us to the freedom we gained in 1989 and to the new rules of international co-existence, by which we are operating in European Union and Convent of the North Atlantic frames.
There will be anniversary celebrations, including exhibitions and events in Warsaw, Poland next week.
Here is how the inaugural program began:
MUSIC: Bells, interrupted by fanfares.
ANNOUNCER: Radio Free Europe calling—Voice of Free Poland.
ANNOUNCER: Attention! Attention! On our National Day, on the anniversary of the third May Constitution, you will listen to the inaugurating program of our radio station which will broadcast daily to our countrymen in Poland. In a few moments a solemn dedication of this new radio station will take place.
Attention! Attention! Our voice will reach you from today on new and more powerful antennae.
Attention! Attention! Poles speak to Poles.
We speak to our brothers in Poland thanks to the American National Committee for a Free Europe.
Former World War Two Admiral Harold B. ("Min") Miller, president of the National Committee for a Free Europe (NCFE), said, in part:
This day marks the inauguration of a new, powerful transmitter speaking to Poland ...This superb instrument is to carry the new Voice of Free Poland. Over its pulsing waves, the free Poles hope to make this echo audible to the dauntless people of their enslaved homeland, that you may share with us the knowledge that the people of Poland are not forgotten and that we in America and in the West have faith in Poland and in the certainty of her ultimate victory.
The Polish Station of Radio Free Europe, organized by the National Committee for a Free Europe, is a station run by Poles for their countrymen. It aims at piercing the Iron Curtain with words of truth. It does not propose to tell the people of Poland what to think or what to do. When they know what goes on in the Free World, when they know that their brothers in exile and their friends in the West have not forgotten them, they will be able to draw their own conclusion, and form their own ideas.
Faithful to the Polish Tradition, we are working for both your freedom and ours. The road is long and arduous. We cannot promise that our objective will be reached tomorrow or the day after. But we shall not rest until it is achieved and Poland is again a free nation and an honored member of the great European family.
Admiral Miller than introduced the first director of RFE's Polish Broadcast Service, Jan Nowak-Jezioranski (photo):
...Captain Nowak former officer of the Polish home army who is will known to many of you. This distinguished Polish patriot will direct the operation of this new station. On behalf of over twenty-five million Americans, Mr. Nowak, I present to you this new station of the Voice of Free Poland.
Jan Nowak said, in part,
I accept from you this new station, the gift of the American people and I am deeply convinced that it will constitute a tie binding the free world and the imprisoned Poland together. From today on, the group of Poles who with me face this important task will be able to address their brothers behind the Iron Curtain in their own Polish name. At this moment, we cease to be exiles separated from our country. We are able now to take an active part in the life of the Polish nation. Our voices will resound all over the country and will carry the free and independent Polish thought.
And now I address you, my countrymen in Poland. I want you to know that no curtain of falsehoods and lies has ever cast a veil over your face, the true face of Poland. We think and feel as you do. Everything that hurts and worries you is fully shared by us.
Jan Nowak remained director of RFE's Polish Broadcast Service until his retirement in 1975. His memoir Courier from Warsaw details his Polish underground activities in World War Two. Jan Nowak-Jezioranski died in Warsaw, Poland, on January 20, 2005.
After Nowak finished, the staff of RFE's Polish Broadcast Service sang the Polish National Anthem and a priest was invited to give a special blessing. The staff then put on a play entitled "Welcome the Dawn of May."
In 1994, RFE/RL's Polish Broadcast Service was reconstituted as separate non-profit corporation RWE (Radio Wolna Europa), which was a Warsaw-based Polish spin-off operated from 1994-1997. Programs were produced in Warsaw and broadcast on U.S. Government (VOA and former RFE/RL) transmitters and on some local Polish stations. RFE/RL explored private funding of RWE, including extensive discussions in 1997 with a major international media corporation. These discussions were ultimately unsuccessful, and all RFE/RL-sponsored Polish-language broadcasting ceased in fall 1997.