“I would like to show that within the countries englobed into the Eastern Empire life hides lots of mysteries.” (Czesław Miłosz). In the image: the journal “L’autre Europe,” my mother in our Philadelphia apartment on Locust Street (1988), and a matchbox from Hotel Bristol in Warsaw. I dedicate this post to the memory of my friend, historian Mihnea Berindei (1948-2016) who was one the journal’s editors. In 2006, Mihnea was a member of the Presidential Commission for the Analysis of the Communist Dictatorship in Romania…
În 1990, România a trecut cu maximă viteză de la starea de grație la aceea de greață. În 2017, în chip miraculos, România a trecut de la starea de greață la aceea de grație. Iar în această poveste, rolul gratiilor nu trebuie subestimat…
Many happy returns, dear Radu Filipescu! For those who don’t know or have forgotten, Radu is one of the main Romanian dissidents. Born: December 26, 1956 (age 60), Târgu Mureș, Romania, the young engineer Radu Filipescu was one of those who heroically resisted Ceausescu’s terror. He acted alone, but he knew he was not alone. Like the members of the White Rose resistance group in Nazi Germany, he distributed leaflets denouncing the tyranny. He was arrested and jailed. A founding member of the Group for Social Dialogue, Radu Filipescu served as a member of the Presidential Commission for the Analysis of the Communist Dictatorship in Romania. Never acerbic, caustic, or bitter, Radu embodies good faith, moral clarity, and civic courage.
Genialissimo and generalissimo: The fate of statues during revolutions. Of Stalin’s glory, only the boots survived…
Minima moralia: In “Shadows of the Forgotten Ancestors,” one of his most influential essays–and also one of my favorites–, Adam Michnik wrote about Piisudski, but in fact about himself: “…his is not simply a national but also a very human perspective. It is not patriotic and political concerns but my own concerns, my own good that inspire me to fight. This will rescue me from sinking into the anonymous, shapeless mass of the depraved, captive, and obedient.” (“Letters from Prison,” University of California Press, 1985, p. 210)
Image: Adam Michnik, Warsaw, December 1981
One would have turned eighty on October 5. The other will turn seventy on October 17. One wrote “The Power of the Powerless,” the other one “The New Evolutionism.” These two essays defined the goals of East European dissident movements, their vision of liberty, and their ethos. They both deserve our gratitude. Their names: Václav Havel and Adam Michnik.