November 01, 2014

Idols and Anniversaries

Twenty-five years ago, when the Berlin Wall came tumbling down (see page 34), it was a time of hope and relief. Since the 1940s we had held our breath, limping from crisis to crisis, hoping that Dr. Strangelove was not hiding in a dark corner, waiting to make his play.

In November 1989 we could breathe again. Eastern Europe was unshackled. One after another, communist icons and idols teetered and fell: one-party rule, the planned economy, forced labor camps. Suddenly there was freedom of travel, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of conscience.

The euphoria was heady. Yet the hangover soon followed. In August 1991, the forces of reaction made an attempt to regain power, promising stability, security, and a return to the coddled past. Thankfully, they were rebuffed, and crowds descended on Moscow’s Lubyanka Square. There, with the help of a crane, they toppled the massive statue of Iron Felix.

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