"This government is composed of the people who were involved in the destruction of the country. But we, each citizen of this country together with those of us who were opposed, in some way allowed that. So this is a bigger question of responsibility. How could we have stopped them?"
The late 1960s, with the explosion of youth movements, the Vietnam War, and the transformation of popular culture, offered a grand opportunity for the reinvention of self. So, too, did the late 1980s, particularly in East-Central Europe.
Although much of the focus of the world's attention in 1989 was on Prague and Vaclav Havel, the civic movement Public Against Violence played an equally important role in ensuring that the revolution in Czechoslovakia was "velvet."
The Round Table lacked perhaps the drama of the Berlin Wall's collapse or Vaclav Havel's leap from prison to presidency. But its patient politicking also represented an alternative to the violence of Romania's revolution and Yugoslavia's descent into war.
It was an exhilarating time to be young in November 1989 and living in East Berlin. It was not only the physical Wall that fell on November 9. It was also the many invisible walls that closed off anyone who didn't conform.
Certainly 1989 was a watershed year for politicians, political scientists, and human rights activists in East-Central Europe. But the people that really must have felt the ground shake beneath their feet were: real estate developers.
There is an art to curation. Curators must not only choose the works for an exhibition, which involves making aesthetic judgments about "good" and "bad" as well as what fits together according to the exhibition's theme
First and foremost, it is crucial that governments enforce a zero-tolerance policy for all anti-Semitic and other xenophobic behavior. Equally imperative is to distinguish between Nazi-era crimes and those committed by the Communist regime.
The riots in Sweden last week are a manifestation of the socioeconomic disequilibrium pervading much of Europe, and the level of frustration that is beginning to boil over among European immigrants and youth.
The media in East-Central Europe used to be idea-centric. The unofficial samizdat publications focused on the cruelties and inanities of the regimes, unearthed nearly forgotten history, and often featured philosophic meditations on politics and morality.
Color is coming back to the now-independent free-market democracy. A bit of the Balkan Peninsula, it's only slightly larger than Maryland. But there's variety inside that space, including a mountain-studded interior and an unspoiled Adriatic coastline.
Some of the first oppositionists to Communism came from the left, such as the Socialist Revolutionaries in the Soviet Union after the Bolsheviks seized power in 1917. Later, in Eastern Europe, the first stirrings of dissent from below also came from the left.