This article addresses an issue that, until now, has attracted very little interest in the historicalliterature: the smuggling of religious literature to Soviet Bloc countries. It makestwo claims. Firstly, that bible smuggling is a topic that historians ought to investigate.There are indeed a number of reasons to presume that bible smuggling was a significantCold War phenomenon. In a Western context, it involved numerous groups andindividuals in many different countries, it led to the establishment of transnational networkscooperating in terms of bible translation, production and distribution, and someof these groups and networks got involved in broader human rights related issues, suchas the International Sakharov Hearings, 1975-1985. Bible smuggling also mattered in theEast, as is testified by the propaganda efforts of the Soviet authorities in denouncing thisactivity. Documents from the Statsi archives indicate that East German authorities wereworried about the impact and the contacts established by the so-called Eastern Missions.Secondly, the need for scholarly research in this field is illustrated by the case of theDanish European Mission (DEM), established by Reverend Hans Kristian Neerskov in1964. DEM was the only Danish group to specialise in bible smuggling to the East duringthe Cold War. Impressive claims have been made in the Danish press concerning theallegedly huge effort made by Neerskov (“the Soviet Union’s ideological enemy no. 1”)and his group to help the religiously oppressed in the East. While this article does notseek to tell ‘the real’ story of the Danish European Mission, it does try to introduce somenuances into this ‘official’ story, demonstrating that some of the claims made on DEM’sbehalf are either wrong or at the very least unsubstantiated. The role and the impact ofbible smuggling has become yet another issue in the struggle about the Cold War, andserious enquiries into this field are called for.
|Journal||Denmark. Kongelige Bibliotek. Fund og Forskning|
|Number of pages||21|
|Publication status||Published - 2013|