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The Haunted Land : Facing Europe's Ghosts After Communism

by Tina Rosenberg

Buy the book: Tina Rosenberg. The Haunted Land : Facing Europe's Ghosts After Communism

Release Date: 19 March, 1996

Edition: Paperback


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Buy the book: Tina Rosenberg. The Haunted Land : Facing Europe's Ghosts After Communism

Surveying the Psychological Wasteland of the Former East Blo

We stand at a point six years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and look across a war torn psychological landscape. A haunted land where emotional wreckage lies strewn across the plains like the rubble of bombed out cities after World War II. Tina Rosenberg attempts to take us into this horrifying scene and examine the damage up close. To look at the savaged emotional architecture of the cold war with a critical eye, and to try to formulate if the building is salvageable, if the old bricks can be used to restore the landscape, or if the entire thing needs to be torn down.
I must admit that I was extremely skeptical of this book by the time I had finished reading the introduction. "How," I asked myself, "does an author who, by her own admission, speaks 'only rudimentary German and no eastern European language ' expect to get a truly accurate picture of the society? After all, she's at the mercy of the translators or the ability of others to speak English." As I completed my reading of this very well written and thought provoking book I could not, even with serious effort, shake this initial fear about the book's potential shortcomings. It reads less like a history presenting the facts, and more like a long human interest article in the Sunday newspaper, showing only a glimpse of things through interviews with people; some dissidents, some ordinary informers, others former high ranking officials. Few of the interviews struck me as spontaneous, and most of the participants seemed carefully on their guard to say precisely what they wanted to say, revealing nothing that would shake their own self-image.
But, despite the obvious flaws of the book as a historical thesis, it brings us a very interesting portrait of the real pain that some of the ordinary people whose complacency, or participation, allowed the regimes to exist. As a study of how ordinary people are pulled into participation in, or complacency towards, such totalitarian regimes this book is as valuable to us as Albert Speer's memoirs, Inside the Third Reich.


Good overview of Eastern Europe in the 1990s...

I was not surprised when this book won the Pulitzer. I read it a while back but I have returned to it from time to time for clarification about one point or another.

As I am about one-eighth Polish, I found the section on Poland interesting. My great grandparents fled from the Russians in the middle of the 19th Century, so I am aware of the bad behaviour of the Russians, the Germans, and then the Russians again. How the boundaries of this poor country have been altered over and over. What a dreary, sad, but hopeful people. The saying, "Poland isn't a country, it's an underground conspiracy" is so true. I am happy to read in the papers that things are finally improving slowly.

Ms. Rosenberg contrasts Czechoslovakia on the verge of becoming Slovakia and the Czech Republic, with East Germany now reunited with the West. Her descriptions of the events that led to the very different decisions of these people was lucid and well written and will be a good resource in years to come.

Because she is a journalist, the book is written to reflect the situation extant in the early 1990's. Since she wrote the book, some of the political leaders have changed and various scandals she describes such as the spy incident in Poland have been more or less resolved or disappeared. The book will retain value for those who wish to go back and reflect on what happened.


Nizhniy Novgorod

© FAB Russia, 2003-2005

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