( Berlim Oriental, 1954)
“BUCHAREST, Romania, Sept. 27 (UPI) — Many Romanians miss the communist dictatorship of Nicolae Ceausescu and believe they were better off then, a survey found.
The study, carried out by CSOP along with the government’s Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes and the Memory of the Romanian Exile, was released Friday, WAZ.EUobserver reported.
Only 27 percent of Romanians said communism was “wrong,” while 47 percent answered “it was a good idea, but badly applied” and 14 percent thought it was a “good idea, and well applied.” A striking 78 percent said neither they, nor their families, ever suffered under communism.
Life was better under communism, said 49 percent of Romanians, while only 23 percent said it was worse and 14 percent saw no difference. The main reasons given: everybody had a job (62 percent), decent living conditions (26 percent) and guaranteed housing (19 percent.
Some 25 percent of those interviewed thought Ceausescu was a good leader while 15 percent said the opposite and the rest professed mixed opinions.
The survey was carried out in August and September with a margin of error of 2.9 percentage points.”
“Mao comes back to life amid wide spread anti-Japan protests in China”
“(…) As an apologist for the former East German dictatorship, the young Mecklenburg native shares a majority view of people from eastern Germany. Today, 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, 57 percent, or an absolute majority, of eastern Germans defend the former East Germany. “The GDR had more good sides than bad sides. There were some problems, but life was good there,” say 49 percent of those polled. Eight percent of eastern Germans flatly oppose all criticism of their former home and agree with the statement: “The GDR had, for the most part, good sides. Life there was happier and better than in reunified Germany today.”
These poll results, released last Friday in Berlin, reveal that glorification of the former East Germany has reached the center of society. Today, it is no longer merely the eternally nostalgic who mourn the loss of the GDR. “A new form of Ostalgie (nostalgia for the former GDR) has taken shape,” says historian Stefan Wolle. “The yearning for the ideal world of the dictatorship goes well beyond former government officials.” Even young people who had almost no experiences with the GDR are idealizing it today. “The value of their own history is at stake,” says Wolle.
People are whitewashing the dictatorship, as if reproaching the state meant calling their own past into question. “Many eastern Germans perceive all criticism of the system as a personal attack,” says political scientist Klaus Schroeder, 59, director of an institute at Berlin’s Free University that studies the former communist state. He warns against efforts to downplay the SED dictatorship by young people whose knowledge about the GDR is derived mainly from family conversations, and not as much from what they have learned in school. “Not even half of young people in eastern Germany describe the GDR as a dictatorship, and a majority believe the Stasi was a normal intelligence service,” Schroeder concluded in a 2008 study of school students. “These young people cannot, and in fact have no desire to, recognize the dark sides of the GDR.”
“Driven Out of Paradise”
Schroeder has made enemies with statements like these. He received more than 4,000 letters, some of them furious, in reaction to reporting on his study. The 30-year-old Birger also sent an e-mail to Schroeder. The political scientist has now compiled a selection of typical letters to document the climate of opinion in which the GDR and unified Germany are discussed in eastern Germany. Some of the material gives a shocking insight into the thoughts of disappointed and angry citizens. “From today’s perspective, I believe that we were driven out of paradise when the Wall came down,” one person writes, and a 38-year-old man “thanks God” that he was able to experience living in the GDR, noting that it wasn’t until after German reunification that he witnessed people who feared for their existence, beggars and homeless people.
Today’s Germany is described as a “slave state” and a “dictatorship of capital,” and some letter writers reject Germany for being, in their opinion, too capitalist or dictatorial, and certainly not democratic. Schroeder finds such statements alarming. “I am afraid that a majority of eastern Germans do not identify with the current sociopolitical system.”(…).
“Zsuzsanna Clark compares growing up in communist Hungary with life there, and in Britain, today”
“When people ask me what it was like growing up in Hungary in the 1970s and 80s, most expect to hear tales of secret police, bread queues and other nasty manifestations of life in a one-party state. They are invariably disappointed when I tell them that the reality was quite different and that communist Hungary, far from being hell on earth, was in fact rather a good place to live.
Victor Orban, the recently defeated rightwing Hungarian prime minister, described my generation – those whose fate was sealed by the “failure” of the 1956 uprising – as “the lost generation”.
But Hungarians like myself, who grew up in the years of “goulash communism”, were actually the lucky ones. The shockwaves of 1956 bought home to the communist leadership that they could only consolidate their position by making our lives more tolerable. Stalinism was out and “Kadarism” – a unique brand of liberal communism (named after its architect, Janos Kadar) from which Mikhail Gorbachev would later draw inspiration for perestroika – was in.
Instead of a list of achievements in health, education, transport and welfare, let me offer some personal observations on what living under goulash communism was really like.
What I remember most was the overriding sense of community and solidarity, a spirit I find totally lacking in my adopted Britain and indeed whenever I go back to Hungary today. With minimal differences in income and material goods, people really were judged on what they were like as individuals and not on what they owned.
In Élet és Irodalom, sociologist Mária Vásárhelyi publishes research which suggests that János Kádár, Hungary’s Communist leader for most of the second half of the 20th century is more popular today than during the last few years of his rule. In an article marking the 100th anniversary of Kádár’s birth, she writes that a majority of contemporary Hungarians consider the Kádár era a “golden age”. Only one third of those asked regard the Kádár regime as a dictatorship. Two thirds of adult respondents remember that period as more humane and secure than today’s world. Young adults who grew up under democracy share their parents’ views and most of them tend to believe that János Kádár played a positive role in Hungary’s history.”
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