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.