The Lost World of Communism

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1989 was a year of revolution: it marked the collapse of communism in Eastern and Central Europe and and an end to an entire way of life for millions of people behind the Iron Curtain. Beginning in Hungary, the retreat from communism picked up speed over the summer when the Poles won an overwhelming victory in free elections over their pro-Soviet rulers. In the fall, East Germany and Czechoslovakia achieved freedom with surprisingly little violence. Only Romania, at the end of the year, witnessed a savage battle in the capital and the summary execution of the most notorious of Eastern Europe's dictators, Nicolae Ceausescu. This book collects first hand testimony of the people who lived in East Germany, Czechoslovakia and Romania during the Cold War era, and reveals an astonishingly rich tapestry of experience that goes beyond the headlines of spies and surveillance, secret police and political corruption—in fact, many of the people remember their lives under communism as "perfectly ordinary" and even hanker for the "security" that it offered. From international figures like Vaclav Havel and Lech Walesa, via the shadowy figures of Eastern Europe's intelligence and security services to its "ordinary" citizens, the voices collected evoke the moods, preoccupations and experiences of a world of that vanished almost overnight.


Peter Molloy is a multi-award winning producer of history and current affairs series for the BBC, including Lost World of Communism. This is his first book.