Book Review: Iron Curtain

Iron Curtain

Anne Applebaum, Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe 1944-1956. (New York, NY: Doubleday, 2012).

Better works of history are crafted. They begin with a question. They are created through exhaustive research, editing, and organization. A better work of history answers the original question, creates new questions considers alternative interpretations, and provides overwhelming evidence in support of their answers. Doing so by creating a readable narrative. Anne Applebaum’s Iron Curtain is a better work of history. Applebaum’s original question: How did the Soviets and their allies transform well-meaning Eastern European social/ aid organizations created, or reconstituted, in the immediate aftermath of World War II into tools of oppression?1 In a chilling but necessary read Iron Curtain provides an answer.

Trip To Europe: Budapest Pictures

Kossuth Heros Square 3

Heroes’ Square: Statues and memorials tell the history of the Hungarian nation. At the base of the central column are the Seven Chieftains that lead the Magyar people to what is now Hungary. On top column the Archangel Gabriel holds the Hungarian Crown. In front of the central column is a monument to all heroes who fought for the Hungarian nation. Two colonnades form a semi-circle in the background. Statues depicting fourteen national heroes occupy the spaces between columns. Four statues above the colonnades represent (from left to right): Labor & Wealth, War, Peace, and Knowledge & Glory. For a list of the heroes depicted in the colonnades please click the link.

The Cold War’s forgotten Hungarian Revolution

Sixty-two years ago today the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 began.

PAUL ANDREWS

Revolution hongroise

On October 23rd 1956, thousands of Hungarian workers and students flooded the streets of Budapest. With fists raised in defiance, they shouted for Freedom from Soviet tyranny! The students issued a declaration in Parliament Square called the “Sixteen Points.” It included demands for personal freedom, economic reform, eliminating the hated secret police, withdrawing Soviet troops, and removing Communist leader Mátyás Rákosi.

Rákosi, appointed by Josef Stalin himself, had presided over a decade-long, oppressive regime that finally brought resentment to a boiling point. When crowds of unarmed civilians were gunned down by security forces 2 days later, the Rebellion became a Revolution between ragtag armed rebels and Soviet troops.

What began as peaceful demonstrations in Budapest quickly escalated into an armed resistance across all of Hungary.

Protestors tore down a statue of Stalin in Heroes’ Square, dragged its metal carcass through the city before decapitating it for all to…

View original post 939 more words

History Nuggets: #3 October 2018

“History is written by the victors.”

                                                                                                                              Walter Benjamin

Book Review: Journey to a Revolution

Journey to a Rev

 

Michael Korda, Journey to a Revolution: A Personal Memoir and History of The Hungarian Revolution of 1956. (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2006).

In this instance Korda’s subtitle accurately captures the appeal of this work. Journey to a Revolution is both a memoir and a history, blended in a way that makes the narrative live. In a mere two hundred and five pages Korda retells an adventure in which four young Brits (author included) ran headlong into the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. Squeezed into a VW, the four friends traveled from England to Budapest to deliver medical supplies to a Budapest hospital and to bear witness to a great event.

Trip To Europe: Buda Castle, Budapest

Budapest is a beautiful city. It was the first city on our tour and it did not disappoint. We loved it; the sites, the people, the culture. This group of photos are of Buda Castle. Unfortunately, we were not able to see the interior of St. Matthias Church because we visited on Sunday morning. We toured with Globus Tours and found them to be excellent. Our group had a great time.

Buda Castle at night

Buda Castle

History Nuggets: #2 September 2018

“Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forward.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Kierkegaard

Film Review: Operation Finale

OperationFinale

Figure 1 By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=58401347

Operation Finale. Directed by Chris Weitz. Produced by Automatik Entertainment, 2018.

It is a rare occasion when I truly enjoy a movie. Considering the cost associated with having a complete movie experience (buying a ticket, popcorn, and a drink), the reward generally falls short of the investment. Even more so for films based on historical events. Frequently, historically based films require a creative license to produce a story that can understood in a limited time frame and that is commercially viable. However. creative license often challenges historical accuracy. Operation Finale proved to be a movie I enjoyed. Creative license was taken, and the film is not accurate to history, but I enjoyed it because it delivered a few things I rarely experience with modern movies.

Biography: Mátyás Rákosi

Rakosi

Figure 1: Foto: Hungarian Government

One of the “Little Stalins” installed to power in the wake of the Red Army’s march toward Germany during the closing months of World War II, Mátyás Rákosi certainly shared his sponsor’s brutality. Crude in his behavior, a trait he nurtured as a badge of his lower-class status, Rákosi helped fashion Hungary’s Socialist catastrophe. Employing identity politics and “salami tactics” Rákosi slowly sliced away all those opposed to collectivism. Fear, intimidation, and death were considered necessary tools in his effort to build a classless society. From his rise to leadership in 1945 to his forced exile in 1956 hundreds of thousands of Hungarians were either imprisoned or executed.