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The bigger picture

The bigger picture (Sluchajac radia Wolna Europa, 1948-1952)

In the learning unit we look at examples of citizens being silenced, mostly in the context of totalitarian and dictatorial regimes in 20th century Europe. If censorship is about the power of a state to control the flow, content and access to information, then also democratic citizens can be silenced and democratic states can decide that certain information is not for the public to see.

 Silencing Citizens through Censorship
  1. The historical context in the 7 country cases
  2. Censorship in action
  3. Heritage of censorship
  4. The bigger picture

This unit has been made by the team working on the project "Silencing Citizens through Censorship. Learning from Europe’s 20th Century Dictatorial and Totalitarian Past”. The project has received funding from the European Union within the framework of Europe for Citizens Programme. The content of this unit reflect only the authors’ views and the European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.


This module is published under the CC BY 4.0 licence.

Censorship today (Oldboy111wawa, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Censorship today

In the 21st century, the amount of information available online is incomparable to past situations. Yet, certain issues remain and in the bigger picture we seek to understand how history helps us place these issues. Does hate speech fall under the right to freedom of expression? What happens when this freedom clashes with topics which are deemed ‘dangerous information’? In the efforts of the state to guarantee security, how much are citizens willing to be monitored, and is there information which can remain private?

Learning Activities