Book Review: Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1945-1956

Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1945-1956

It’s really hard to believe that its been twenty-four years since the fall of communism in Eastern Europe. I remember following the news on CNN at the United States Mission in Geneva, Switzerland. A communist Eastern Europe seemed to be a permanent fixture just weeks before.

Applebaum does and excellent job describing the Eastern Europe after WWII. She brings some excellent points to history. Terrorized by the Nazi’s then liberated by the Soviets. Why weren’t people anxious to go to the West? People remembered that France and England did little to prevent the Nazism in Poland and Eastern Europe. The Soviets were liberators, or so it seemed for a short while.

Nationalism in stateless communism is compared to medieval Europe where there were nationalities, but first and foremost everyone was Catholic, much the same vision was planned for Communism in Eastern Europe.

Promising starts turn bad quickly for Eastern Europeans. Progress is slows to a stop. West Germany recovers and prospers while East Germany falls behind. Free elections end up as one party systems. Although official policy is not “one party system” but the consolidation of many parties to form an anti-fascist front.

Applebaum, once again, does an outstanding job. Not just repeating history but breaking the book into sections: Economy, High Stalinism, Homo Sovieticus, Youth, Radio, and other topics. Topic driven history works well to present a full picture of Eastern Europe in the dozen years after WWII. Extremely well documented with a copius amount source material. A very worthwhile read.

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