Wednesday, May 7, 2014

"Iron Curtain" / Applebaum

My spare afternoon was spent skim reading:  "Iron Curtain.  The Crushing of Eastern Europe 1944-1956" by Anne Applebaum., published in fall of last year.

This is an important book with many high recommendations, as can be gleaned from the cover.  Since I grew up in Germany at the height of the Cold War, I have my own perspective and memories, which I might describe in due course.  My husband and I even have traveled to East Germany before the wall came down.  We have also learned about the Gulag via Solzhenitsyn.  Therefore, at first, I thought I understood much about the Communist Totalitarianism.  But Applbaum's intentions go beyond recounting history.  She is looking at the methods and processes of instituting Soviet style oppression in several countries at the same time.  We learn how old institutions are done away with or harassed into traumatic dilemmas.  Until an isolation and loneliness or fear of violence beats a population into obedience to the police apparatus.  She shows how this is rationalized and propagated.

Things get very interesting in the details of the interviews.  There are many hugely interesting and fascinating bits that provide the insight into the situation and the process, both psychologically, in terms of the individuals, and the system itself.  Applebaum says that the Humpty Dumpty, or the egg omelet, can't just be put back together.  The oppression has been hugely damaging to the societies.  If they are to be rebuilt, she says, it needs to be understood firstly, how they became undone.

I have begun underlining and now I have to buy a book to give a clean one to the owner (since it is a borrowed book;  Gary, I know.)

So much.  We'll get back to this.  I also want to look at Chesterton more, as he was somewhat prescient of all this, with his own observations.

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