Hungary’s Green Wave Crashes

When I met the biologist Gyongyi Mangel in 1990, her enthusiasm was contagious. So much was going on in Hungarian civil society that it was hard to keep track of all the new initiatives. She was passionate about connecting issues — feminism and ecology, food and health, or transportation and sustainability – and it was hard not to get caught up in her can-do spirit. And it wasn’t just...
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The Persistent Gap

It was a shock for many East Germans when they visited West Germany for the first time – not just in 1989 but way back in 1959. Thirty years before the fall of the Berlin Wall, West Germany had already recovered from the devastation of World War II. Between 1950 and 1960, the average GDP growth for West Germany was 8.2 percent, and it was during this period that the London Times declared the...
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Poland’s Politics of Dissatisfaction

Poland has a proud history of protest, dating back to the multiple insurrections and uprisings against colonial rule in the 18th and 19th century. During the Cold War period, Poles mounted several challenges to the Communist system, culminating in the 10-million-strong Solidarity movement of 1980. Since the fall of Communism, Polish dissatisfaction with the political status quo has divided into...
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The Games of Our Lives

You are a customs official. It’s the early 1980s. You are living in a grim East European country. Your job is to check the documents of visitors, immigrants, and returning citizens. You need the job because times are tight, and several of your family members are sick. Every day the rules change regarding the paperwork that the border-crossers need to show. You have to scrutinize the documents...
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Guilt as Destiny

Diaspora communities played a major role in feeding the fires of conflict in former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. As Paul Hockenos detailed in his book Homeland Calling, émigré communities of Serbs, Croats, Kosovars and others supported nationalist leaders, funded guerrilla armies, returned to fight in the wars and serve in the new governments, and even generated some of the more extreme ideas that...
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