Thursday, 16 December 2010

The Soviet Union - The Evil Empire

Yesterday - my wife was out at the local gym session - I switched to the TV channel ARTE and saw the docu-fiction "Stalin-Molotov, the tyrant and his double".

The Soviet Union disappeared from the map in 1990 and nowadays it is nearly never mentioned anymore. But to me this state means a lot, the Soviet Union accompanied practically my entire life!

When I was born, the communist SU and Nazi Germany, The Third Reich, were mortal ennemies. Looking back on this I can't help thinking they hated each others guts so much because they had a lot of things in common.

I am born in Berlin and spent my youth there. At that time, after the Second World War, the city was divided. And this dividing line, The Wall, marked the border between the Communist East , sponsored and maintained by the Soviet Union and the Western World, as we called it at that time.

Like everybody else, everywhere, I lived my life. But the impression lingered on: we are being observed by a snake that waits patiently - and sometimes less patiently - to gobble us us, me included. Those who are older may remember those sayings "better red than dead" and the other one "better dead than red".

Years later, after my military service, I decided to take a break, have a sabbatical, and I went to India.

I had some money saved but not a big heap, so I hitchhiked and passed by cars or trucks through Yougoslavia, Greece, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. All countries I crossed - in Europe and Asia - had something in common: up north was the Soviet Union. I covered thousands of miles but up North was the big entity ready to rake me in, whenever possible.

In Afghanistan I even met Russians. At that time Afghanistan was still a kingdom but also something like a colony in waiting, ready to be gobbled up. The Russians there, in the Northern and Western part of the country were doing some development work there, kind of NGO's, probably with a hidden agenda, like all great powers.

That was the time of the Cold War and thus the US Americans were present in the Kandahar region. Looking back, thinking back, I wonder if those two ever met and talked it over............

Many, many years later, I lived in Paris and managed to pass a little holiday in Bruges/Belgium, one of the most beautiful town I have ever seen. In the street someone talked to me and said "The Berlin Wall has fallen". I could not believe it. This wall and the Soviet Union behind it seemed everlasting to me.

Now this is already twenty years in the past. The mighty Soviet Union, the nightmare of millions and millions of people, lasted only 70 years!

And what will remain of it in hundred or two hundred years: probably not much more than a footnote or some lines in history books.


  1. The Soviet Union is a never ending experiment in failed governments. I too grew up with the specter of 1,000s of Soviet warheads pointed at me every day. These days, the youth of today don't know what that was all about. I was surprised that it collapsed. At the time I was thinking, 'Hey, we won the cold war!'....but looking back we realize that there were no winners and losers. The Soviet Union cried 'uncle' first, but both Super Powers ran themselves into the ground economically trying to out due the other, to the detreiment of their people. Something, we here in the U.S. are just starting to realize.

  2. Hi Lotus,

    When the SU collapsed, I thought "now we are entering the Golden Age". Nowadays, we are facing other problems, as daunting as the previous ones.

    And even if we would have really entered the Golden Age, one has to go to work every day and for most of us this transforms gold into lead.


  3. Je ne sais pas ce qui se passe, le texte est traduit "tout seul".... Comment je fais moi, pour perfectionner mon anglais?
    Toute une histoire ces pays et surtout ce mur anachronique (mais bon, d'autres sont en train d'en construire de nos jours)
    J'ai un ami allemand ici en Ariège qui était prof de français en Allemagne, retraité, il vit ici et il me raconte souvent comment il est né d'un côté de la frontière pour finalement être de nationalité allemande, alors déraciné pour déraciné, il aime mieux vivre ici.
    Sans vraiment de mauvais temps, pas d'internet toute la journée, passe une bonne soirée
    Un bisou amical.

  4. Bonjour Viviane,

    J'étais encore sur ton blog, mais vraiment, c'est difficile. Comment faire pour simplement arriver à l'article le plus récent?

    L'autre blog, c'est vraiment toi??

    Quant à la traduction automatique, je ne sais pas ce qui se passe. Un bug intelligent, sans doute.

    Je n'ai pas compris l'histoire de l'Allemand qui est né "d'un côté de la frontière" : quelle frontière? Ce n'est pas les frontières qui déracinent mais les gens. Faudra expliquer cela un peu plus, si tu veux.

    Un bisou miauleur (c'est les meilleurs)

  5. Hi Georg, just wanna wish you a beautiful x-mas-time and a great start in the new year!
    Greetings from cold germany, geisslein!!!

  6. Bonne et heureuse année et bonne santé à toi et à tous ceux que tu aime ainsi qu'à ton blog et à tes lecteurs aussi.
    Continue de nous ouvrir l'esprit.
    embrasse Elisabeth pour nous.

  7. salut Georg!!!
    Je crois que ton blog a un sacré bug!!!
    il traduit n'importe quoi, n'importe comment!!

  8. Bonjour Vincent,

    Merci pour tes voeux et la même chose de ma part, mais multiplié par le facteur 1,5 car je suis modeste.

    Et d'accord, je donne qq bisous miauleurs à Elisabeth de ta part.

    Quant à la traduction automatique, tu as tout-à-fait raison, c'est un charabia incroyable. Les traducteurs humains ont encore de beaux jours devant eux.

  9. Je te souhaite une bonne année pour toi et tous ceux que tu aimes, qu'elle apporte le bonheur, la joie et surtout la santé.
    Tu auras peut-être 2 fois le même message, l'autre est parti je ne sais pas comment... ni où!

  10. NO wonder someone said, "This too shall pass"! : )

  11. It's folly to think that the Soviet Union is dead, other than in name. The CIS republics are still very dependent on a centralized government, where most of the power is. The difference is that Moscow doesn't supply the resources anymore. So, Moscow forms local alliances with parties that promise supplies to keep the people fed. And the people vote for those parties. It's a different type of politic, the same cast. Many CIS country leaders remain ex-Duma members.

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