The Heroes of 1989Roundup: Historians' Take
tags: Communism, 1989
On Jan. 15, 1989, demonstrations broke out in both Prague and Leipzig. The wire stories the next day told of riot police and water cannons deployed and of mass detentions. Twenty-five years ago, the communists of Eastern Europe certainly seemed to have a strong if nervous hold on power.
Of course, that year turned out a little differently. There never was a dull moment in 1989 for fans of democracy and popular protest. From January, when the communist leaders in Poland agreed to sit down to round table talks with Solidarity, the opposition they had once reviled, through Vaclav Havel’s election as president of Czechoslovakia as the year closed, every week brought images of peaceful rebellion and of powerful leaders agreeing to cede at least some of their power. More than once that summer and fall, as I walked through Warsaw with a newspaper under my arm, a passerby would stop me: At which kiosk had I bought it, and were there any left? The world seemed charmed, and in a great hurry toward something better.
The year brought horrific moments, too, in Romania in particular. But after the bloody breakup of Yugoslavia a few years later, it was obvious that things could have been much worse in Eastern Europe. More than anything, that golden year gave us a feeling of limitless possibility....
comments powered by Disqus
- House Panel Advances Bill to Study Slavery Reparations
- House Arrest: How An Automated Algorithm Constrained Congress for a Century
- Hank Aaron’s Name Will Replace a Confederate General’s on an Atlanta School
- How Domestic Labor Became Infrastructure
- ‘That Man Makes Me Crazy’: Neil Matkin's Reign at Collin College Draws Scrutiny
- “Containment and Control, Not Care or Cure”: An Interview with Elizabeth Catte on Virginia’s Eugenics Movement
- How White Fears of ‘Negro Domination’ Kept D.C. Disenfranchised for Decades
- The Sun Never Set on the British Empire’s Oppression
- Sounds of Freedom: The Music of Black Liberation
- How Americans Lost Their Fervor for Freedom (Review of Louis Menand)