IRON CURTAIN THE CRUSHING OF EASTERN EUROPE 19441956
Anne Applebaum
Doubleday, New York, 2012
ISBN 978-0-385-51569-6






FROM THE PULITZER PRIZE-WINNING AUTHOR OF GULAG COMES A MAJOR NEW WORK OF HISTORICAL AND MORAL RECKONING: THE STORY OF LIFE BEHIND THE IRON CURTAIN

At the end of the Second World War, the Soviet Union unexpectedly found itself in control of a huge swath of territory in Eastern Europe. Stalin and his secret police set out to convert a dozen radically different countries to a completely new political and moral system: communism. In Iron Curtain, acclaimed historian Anne Applebaum describes how the communist regimes of Eastern Europe were created and what daily life was like once they were complete.

Applebaum portrays in devastating detail how political parties, the church, the media, young people’s organizations—the institutions of civil society on every level—were quickly eviscerated. She explains how the secret police services were organized and how all forms of opposition were undermined and destroyed. Drawing widely from newly available archival material and many sources unknown in English, she follows the communists' tactics as they bullied, threatened, and murdered their way to power. She also chronicles individual lives to show the choices people had to make—to fight, to flee, to collaborate.

Within a remarkably short period after the end of the war, Eastern Europe had been ruthlessly Stalinized. Iron Curtain is a brilliant history of a brutal time and a haunting reminder of how fragile free societies can be. Today the Soviet bloc is a lost civilization, one whose cruelty, paranoia, bizarre morality, and strange aesthetics Anne Applebaum captures in the electrifying pages of Iron Curtain.

ANNE APPLEBAUM is the author of several books, including Gulag: A History, which won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction. She writes a column for The Washington Post and Slate, and is the Director of Political Studies at the Legatum Institute in London. She divides her time between Britain and Poland, where her husband, Radek Sikorski, serves as Foreign Minister.




“The communist takeover of Central and Eastern Europe has waited a lifetime for its historian. A tenacious researcher, an eloquent writer, but above all a passionate—and compassionate judge of the human condition, Anne Applebaum has written a masterly account. It is a timely reminder of how swiftly liberation can be turned into slavery.”
NIALL FERGUSON, author of THE ASCENT OF MONEY

"Iron Curtain is an exceptionally important book that effectively challenges many of the myths of the origins of the Cold War. It is wise, perceptive, remarkably objective, and brilliantly researched."
ANTONY BEEVOR, author of STALINGRAD

“This dramatic book gives us, for the first time, the testimony of dozens of men and women who found themselves in the middle of one of the most traumatic periods of European history. Anne Applebaum conveys the impact of politics and individual lives with extraordinary immediacy.”
AMANDA FOREMAN, author of GEORGIANA: DUCHESS DF DEVONSHIRE

“So much effort is spent trying to understand democratization these days, and so little is spent trying to understand the opposite processes. Anne Applebaum corrects that imbalance, explaining how and why societies succumb to totalitarian rule. Iron Curtain is a deeply researched and eloquent description of events that took place not long ago and in places not far away—in many lessons for the present.”
FAREED ZAKARIA , author of THE POST-AMERICAN WORLD

“Anne Applebaum's highly readable book is distinguished by its ability to describe and evoke the personal, human experience of Sovietization in vivid detail, based on extensive original research and interviews with those who remember.”
TIMOTHY BARTON ASH, author of THE MAGIC LANTERN




The loss of freedom, tyranny, abuse, hunger would all have been easier to bear if not for the compulsion to call them freedom, justice, the good of the people... Lies, by their very nature partial and ephemeral, are revealed as lies when confronted with language’s striving for truth. But here all the means of disclosure had been permanently confiscated by the police.
—Alexander Wat,
My Century

Individuals need not believe all these mystifications, but they must behave as though they did, or they must at least tolerate them in silence, or get along well with those who work with them. For this reason, however, they must live within a lie.
—Vaclav Havel, "The Power of the Powerless”

This book is dedicated to those Eastern Europeans who refused to live within a lie.




CONTENTS

A Note About Abbreviations and Acronyms xi
Maps
    Eastern Europe, 1945 xiv—xv
    Poland, 1939 xvi
    Poland, 1945 xvii
Introduction xix

PART ONE: FALSE DAWN

  1: Zero Hour 3
  2: Victors 23
  3: Communists 43
  4: Policemen 64
  5: Violence 88
  6: Ethnic Cleansing 116
  7: Youth 148
  8: Radio 174
  9: Politics 192
10: Economics 223

PART TWO: HIGH STALINISM

11: Reactionary Enemies 249
12: Internal Enemies 275
13: Homo Sovieticus 300
14: Socialist Realism 331
15: Ideal Cities 361
16: Reluctant Collaborators 386
17: Passive Opponents 412
18: Revolutions 435

Epilogue 463
Acknowledgments 471
Interviewees 473
Notes 475
Select Bibliography 525
Illustration Credits 543
Index 545




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Anne Applebaum