Saturday, August 4, 2007

Communism: The Promise and the Reality - 6of6 - People Power


 

In 1991, the Communist Party lost control of the Soviet Union, the culmination of a process that had started in 1980 in the Polish shipyards: Ten million eventually joined Lech Walesa's Solidarity movement and signaled the beginning of the end for Soviet-style communism.

In People Power, eyewitnesses tell the story of how the Communist system that dominated post-war Eastern Europe collapsed as they remember the extraordinary weeks that preceded and followed the fall of the Berlin Wall; Poland's fight for solidarity; Czechoslovakia's "Velvet Revolution;" the struggle for power in the Soviet Union, and more.

The people remember: 1980 Gdansk, the role of the Church, Solidarity movement, martial law in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, the Berlin Wall, Romania, Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin, the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
 

About Communism: The Promise and the Reality

Communism was the most cataclysmic social experiment of the century—a mass movement whose ideals promised hope to millions but whose methods claimed millions as its victims. Now, at the end of the century that it transformed, the time has come to document Communism's rise and fall.

In Communism: The Promise and the Reality, ordinary people describe how and why they were mesmerized by the promises of Communist regimes. With those regimes collapsing around the world, they are now able to speak openly and with perspective. Theirs are extraordinary stories—stories that describe courageous acts of rebellion and heroic endurances of hardship. Never before have so many paid a price for their idealism.

These witnesses participated in the most dramatic moments in the history of Communism—from the Bolshevik assault on the Winter Palace to the smashing of the Berlin Wall; from Mao's Great Leap Forward to Castro's invasion of Cuba; from the Tet Offensive to the Gdansk Shipyard strike. They also beheld the response to revolution—the crushing power of American and Soviet forces, the international arms build-up, the threat of nuclear weapons.

Their voices speak of Communism's horrors, but they remind us that there was hope—for education in Ukraine, self-determination in post-colonial Vietnam, land ownership in Cuba, religious freedom in Afghanistan, national strength in China, relief from poverty in Eastern Europe.

Communism did not achieve what it set out to do, but its unintended legacy, as evidenced by these witnesses, shows the power of human resilience.
 

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