The Berlin Wall fell 30 years ago. It was one of the few unambiguously joyous moments in modern history. This popular, nonviolent explosion of dissent effectively toppled East Germany’s despotic regime. And it signaled, if only symbolically, the end of the Cold War that had divided Europe for nearly half a century. Thirty years later,… Continue reading Did the Fall of the Berlin Wall Produce Trump?
When I traveled through Yugoslavia in 1990, a number of people confessed their fears to me. They were worried about the rise of nationalism, particularly in Serbia with Slobodan Milosevic. They were concerned about the economic situation – the high level of national debt, the overall stagnation, the persistent gap between the more prosperous northern… Continue reading Could the Yugoslav Wars Have Been Avoided?
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… Continue reading The Persistent Gap
I was at the library at Northwestern University, putting the final touches on the galleys of my first book, which addressed the topic of Soviet foreign policy. There was a FedEx box at the library, and my deadline was the last pick-up time. In a mad rush, I finished the remaining fact-checking chores, did one… Continue reading The Wall
Here’s a condensed version of what happened in Germany in 1989-90. The Germans in the East rose up against their authoritarian regime because they wanted freedom. Eventually they also got the German deutschmark and reunification. The cost of that economic and political reunification was shouldered almost entirely by West Germans while the benefits flowed mostly… Continue reading The Costs of Reunification
The citizens of Leipzig are very proud of the fact that the East Germany revolution of 1989 began in their city. Leipzig has two famous churches in the heart of its old quarter. Bach made St. Thomas Church famous for music when he was its choir director for 28 years in the first part of… Continue reading The Monday Demonstrations
The changes that took place in East-Central Europe in 1989 were not just an inflection point for people in the region. The lives of many outsiders were profoundly altered by what happened year. I was 25 years old in January 1989 and living in Warsaw. I had no clear idea of what to do with… Continue reading A Child of 1989
In the early 1980s, the citizens of Yugoslavia enjoyed a distinct comparative advantage over their counterparts in East-Central Europe. Yugoslavia’s per capita GDP was the best in the region. True, $3,230 might not sound like a lot of money, but the closest competition in 1982 was Czechoslovakia at $2,980. By comparison, Poland’s was only $1,540… Continue reading Yugoslavia Could Have Been a Leader
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. All those who had been largely hidden from sight – punk rockers, dissidents,… Continue reading Squat Paradise