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HI430 - Human Rights in Cold War Eastern Europe: Primary Sources
Memories of Revolution by Anna Horsbrugh-Porter (Editor)Preserving the childhood memories of some of the last generation of White Russian women to experience the revolution first-hand, this poignant collection of interviews and photographs provides a unique record of life in Russia.
The Year I Was Peter the Great by Marvin KalbA chronicle of the year that changed Soviet Russia--and molded the future path of one of America's pre-eminent diplomatic correspondents 1956 was an extraordinary year in modern Russian history. It was called "the year of the thaw"--a time when Stalin's dark legacy of dictatorship died in February only to be reborn later that December. This historic arc from rising hope to crushing despair opened with a speech by Nikita Khrushchev, then the unpredictable leader of the Soviet Union. He astounded everyone by denouncing the one figure who, up to that time, had been hailed as a "genius," a wizard of communism--Josef Stalin himself. Now, suddenly, this once unassailable god was being portrayed as a "madman" whose idiosyncratic rule had seriously undermined communism and endangered the Soviet state. This amazing switch from hero to villain lifted a heavy overcoat of fear from the backs of ordinary Russians. It also quickly led to anti-communist uprisings in Eastern Europe, none more bloody and challenging than the one in Hungary, which Soviet troops crushed at year's end. Marvin Kalb, then a young diplomatic attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, observed this tumultuous year that foretold the end of Soviet communism three decades later. Fluent in Russian, a doctoral candidate at Harvard, he went where few other foreigners would dare go, listening to Russian students secretly attack communism and threaten rebellion against the Soviet system, traveling from one end of a changing country to the other and, thanks to his diplomatic position, meeting and talking with Khrushchev, who playfully nicknamed him Peter the Great. In this, his fifteenth book, Kalb writes a fascinating eyewitness account of a superpower in upheaval and of a people yearning for an end to dictatorship.
Stories of the Soviet Experience by Irina PapernoBeginning with glasnost in the late 1980s and continuing into the present, scores of personal accounts of life under Soviet rule, written throughout its history, have been published in Russia, marking the end of an epoch. In a major new work on private life and personal writings, Irina Paperno explores this massive outpouring of human documents to uncover common themes, cultural trends, and literary forms. The book argues that, diverse as they are, these narratives--memoirs, diaries, notes, blogs--assert the historical significance of intimate lives shaped by catastrophic political forces, especially the Terror under Stalin and World War II. Moreover, these published personal documents create a community where those who lived through the Soviet era can gain access to the inner recesses of one another's lives. This community strives to forge a link to the tradition of Russia's nineteenth-century intelligentsia; thus the Russian "intelligentsia" emerges as an additional implicit subject of this book. The book surveys hundreds of personal accounts and focuses on two in particular, chosen for their exceptional quality, scope, and emotional power. Notes about Anna Akhmatova is the diary Lidiia Chukovskaia, a professional editor, kept to document the day-to-day life of her friend, the great Russian poet Anna Akhmatova. Evgeniia Kiseleva, a barely literate former peasant, kept records in notebooks with the thought of crafting a movie script from the story of her life. The striking parallels and contrasts between these two documents demonstrate how the Soviet state and the idea of history shaped very different lives and very different life stories. The book also analyzes dreams (most of them terror dreams) recounted in the diaries and memoirs of authors ranging from a peasant to well-known writers, a Party leader, and Stalin himself. History, Paperno shows, invaded their dreams, too. With a sure grasp of Russian cultural history, great sensitivity to the men and women who wrote, and a command of European and American scholarship on life writing, Paperno places diaries and memoirs of the Soviet experience in a rich historical and conceptual frame. An important and lasting contribution to the history of Russian culture at the end of an epoch, Stories of the Soviet Experience also illuminates the general logic and specific uses of personal narratives.
Books from the Kreitzberg Library
Will to Freedom by Egon BalasBalas (mathematics, Carnegie Mellon U.) remembers his live under Nazi and communist rule in Hungary and Romania and provides a eyewitness account of the social and political upheaval in the region from the middle 1930s to the middle 1960s. Particularly he charts his course as underground resistance fighter, political prisoner, fugitive, Community Party official, and disenchanted dissident.
Budapest Exit by Csaba TeglasWhen Csaba Teglas was confronted with the Nazi invasion of Hungary during World War II, the Soviet occupation following the Allied victory, and finally with the opportunity to escape the oppressive regime during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, he responded not with fear, indecision, or submission, but with courage, ingenuity, and hope. In Budapest Exit: A Memoir of Fascism, Communism, and Freedom, Teglas begins with the story of his childhood in Hungary. During the war, the dramatic changes that took place in his country intensified with the invasion of the Nazis. The Nazis' defeat after the terrifying siege of Budapest should have led to freedom, but for Hungary it meant occupation by the Soviets, who were often little better than the fascists. A twelve-year-old friend of Teglas was forced to watch the brutal gang rape of a Jewish family member by the same Soviet soldiers who liberated her from the Nazis. Despite the difficulties of life in Budapest, Teglas met the challenge when sustenance of the family fell on his young shoulders. One of the innovative ways he earned money was to employ his playments to extract ball bearings from wrecked tanks and other military vehicles that he then sold to factories. He also sold rubber rings cut from bicycle tubes to use as canning seals. Before the communists solidified their rule, Teglas obtained admission to the Technical University of Budapest, where he earned a degree despite constant interference in the University by the communists. The following years under the Stalinist dictatorship were the harshest, and Teglas and his family and friends lived in constant fear; some were even subjected to the communist jails and torture chambers. But rather than standing idly by, Teglas protested, sometimes quietly, sometimes more vocally, against the Soviet and communist presence in Hungary. During the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, Teglas became more involved in the opposition to the communists. When it became clear that the revolutionaries were not going to succeed, he knew he had to leave Hungary to avoid retaliation for his involvement. Teglas recounts his dramatic escape through the heavily guarded Iron Curtain and his subsequent emigration to North America, where life an an immigrant presented new challenges. Teglas compares the genocide and tragedies of Nazi order in World War II and of communist rule to recent international events and ethnic cleansing in Central and Eastern Europe, including the former Yugoslavia. He also highlights the failure of the West to stop the war in Bosnia expediently and the possible far-reaching consequences of a "peace" treaty that aims to satisfy the demands of the aggressors while ignoring the rights of others in the Balkans. Even more, though, this memoir is Csaba Teglas's personal story of his youth, told from the point of view of a man with sons of his own. He found in America the freedom for which he had been searching, but he has raised his American sons to remain proud of their Hungarian heritage.