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@ Ray

I thought I made it clear that my interpretation was not that his Excellency did not know about the killing, but that in his Weltanschaung, the blood of Slavs and Muslims does not count because they are not human. Just some damn fool thing in the Balkans as that humanitarian Bismarck once said.

Sorry that I was obscure.

By 1990, the Berlin wall had already fallen, and the collapse of the Warsaw pact well underway. Eastern Europe had already been liberated.
The statement, as modified with "since 1990" is meaningless. It is akin to saying that since 1946 Europe was pacified without a drop of blood.

@fuchur
a series of acts adds to the pressure for change, which when arrive comes as an event.

Nevermind Germany's reckless early recognition of an independent Croatia which helped touch of the bloodshed in the Balkans. It all occurred after 1990.....

Remember to make a VERY CLEAR DISTINCTION between the SPD and Germany. You wouldn't want people to make the mistake of equating the US with Ted Kennedy and John Kerry, now would you?

The SPD just lost their majority in the Bundestag, and soon will have to cede power to the CDU. Just imagine a Bush-Blair-Merkel Axis of Freedom....

fuchur, you wrote: "The idea that the revolutions "unmasked" Socialism and thus lead to its fall sounds good. But then: Why didn´t the Soviet Union crumble then and there? Why did it take another 20-40 years? "

Do you even understand what kind of system the Soviet Union was? Why did it take several more decades?? Be glad that you haven't had to live under a dictatorship yet otherwise that question wouldn't even have crossed your mind. But you should be able to answer that yourself, because neither did I live under a dictatorship but obviously we both read something different when we open a history book.

"Of course, we cannot be sure of the truth. But did the people shout "Remember 1968!" in 1989? There were lots of interviews etc. back then, and I don´t remember any mentioning of the "old" revolutions. Yes, I´m talking about Germany here; but let´s not forget that the storm started in Germany (ok, Hungary)"

Fuchur, your last sentence is where you err. The storm did NOT start in "Germany (ok, Hungary)". The storm started everytime someone brave and reckless to himself enough dared fighting the system but, say, for example ended up in the Gulag. It started everytime protesters moved into the streets but were dispatched and killed. And the storm was in place and ready to break loose during all those decades when soldiers of the free world were watching the "fence" from the ground, the sea and the air while you and me were asleep peacefully.
The only difference to the storm that started in "Germany (ok, Hungary)" was that the latter finally was successfull. But this could not have taken place as it had, and as peacefully, had it not been for those brave people who tirelessly fought for freedom before, many of whom not living long enough seeing that day of ALSO THEIR final triumph.

second teir,

Kennedy and Kerry are not the elected leaders of the US. Their party is in opposition.

If you want to make a comparsion then it should be to CDU, who also is the party out of power and is for now the opposition party in Germany.

So yes, when I think of the government of Germany I think of the spd and Gerhart. Those are the people in power and positions of leadership as challenged as they maybe.

Alex N.
In the Baltics and Poland there was an underground war. It started right after the Soviets took over. It was 1944/45. The war and resistance continued until 1953 at least. A FORGOTTEN WAR.

Here a war chronicle from Lithuania:
http://www.elnet.lt/vartiklis/voruta/kronika/chronicl.htm

Here are images of the Forest Brothers in Estonia during the 50s
http://www.rk.ee/metsavennad/pildid.html

an article of BBC about an Estonian Forest Brother:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/3249737.stm


And that one is from:
http://64.233.183.104/search?q=cache:PN6XIZDW6AIJ:www.balticsworldwide.com/forgotten.htm+&hl=de

"According to Mart Laar, Estonian prime minister (from 1992-1994, and again from 1999) and author of a book on the post-war resistance, many aging forest brothers still feel bitter that the West chose not to take the Soviets on militarily.
"Nobody believed that Estonia would, for decades and decades, be left in the hands of the Soviets," said Laar. "That wasn't even a possibility. It's only a question of time, everybody thought. But after decades went by, the idea about the West coming to their aid disappeared. The fight in the forest became a personal thing. These people fought because they simply wanted to die as free men."
And die they did, at an alarming rate. By the early 1950s, Soviet forces had clearly gained the upper hand, and an average forest brother could expect to stay alive for a year, maybe two.
For Eerik, the end came in 1953. By then, his wife, fearing deportation herself, had joined him in the forest.
One fateful winter's day, their bunker in southern Estonia was suddenly surrounded. Reluctantly, Eerik urged his wife to surrender to the KGB troops outside, reasoning that at least her life would be spared.
As he slipped out a side entrance and fled for his life on cross-country skies, he heard the rattle of gunfire behind him.
Further into the forest, he flung himself into a ditch and waited, praying that pursuing ski patrols would just pass him by. The next thing he knew, there was a rifle barrel nudged hard against his temple. He was caught.
"I thought, 'Okay, I'm being arrested, but, no matter what, it's always better to be alive than dead,' " Eerik remembered thinking.
But that was before the interrogation. And that was before he learned that the shots he heard earlier was the sound of troops spraying his wife with machine gun fire.
"The interrogators beat me so hard," sighed Eerik, shaking his head. "At that point, I wished I was dead."
After languishing in an Estonian prison for awhile, Eerik was eventually given a 15-year jail term. Other so called enemies of the people later had their sentences commuted. Forest brothers, however, served full terms. When Eerik finally stepped out from behind the bars of his Siberian prison cell, it was 1968. ..."

As a third-generation German American (both paternally and maternally), I am embarrassed for Germany and her US Embassador Mr. Ischinger, or is it "Ischtinker"? Thank you for spreading this throughout the blogosphere.

I'm impressed with your site and your views. Consider yourself blogrolled, by this very new but dedicated blogger.

-The MaryHunter
TMH's Bacon Bits

Niko said:

"All the pictures refer to incidents before 1989/90. The transformation mentioned by the ambassador was probably the one 1989 and after that. That is when the transformation to democracies happened. So i don't get whats the point of these pictures."

The point is well taken - HOWEVER, what the German politician fails to recognize (apparently) is that the "peaceful" transition post the Berlin Wall was NOT the doing of Europe. It was the Americans who brought this about.

Thanks to David for posting the picture of Prague...I have stood on that corner the summer after the communist regime fell. I can even see my hotel in the picture. There was at the time I was there a flower memorial on this street (perhaps it is still there). It was an awe inspiring moment to stand there and recall this event so many years later on a day when the country was newly free.

Suzanne:

I would differ with you and say that while the U.S. did a lot, and probably provided the "backbone" for the political liberation of modern Europe, most of the credit should go to Europeans who opted not to follow or believe in the Soviet/Stalinist way of life. It's their continent. If they had chosen a path of surrender, there was little the U.S. could have done about it.

I would even include many Germans and French in this effort. My special respect goes out to those former subjects of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union, who did what they did usually without more than moral support from the west. I don't really blame the west for that, courting a nuclear conflict with the Soviet Union over whether the government in Warsaw or Riga should really be answerable to it's own people would have been irresponsible, and might well have got Warsaw or Riga incinerated along with the rest of the Northern hemisphere.

However, you have to hand it to a group of people who are willing to stake their lives on a cause, when they knew that cause was probably years or decades from realization.

Ischinger's point is either disingenuous or moronic, because he's comparing the beginning of the transition to democracy in Iraq with the end of the process in Eastern Europe.

It'd be like saying that there was no need to train for the Olympics because the athletes didn't train on the day of their events.

@ occam

I see your razor is still sharp.

Anyway, his remark is both disingenuous and moronic. Disingenuous because comparing the political sophistication of Europe and the US over some relatively brief interval can lead to any conclusion that you want to preselect. Example, I have decided to choose from 1789 to 1807. Yes, that clearly proves that the US is politically more sophisticated than those Europeans.

Moronic because his facts are wrong in his own preselected period: there was this little blood letting in what used to be Yugoslavia during the 1990's.

Ischinger and his gaggle of Rot-Gruen buddies and stone throwers are desparate. They pulled it off two years ago; We'll see if they can pull it off again.

Steve:

I am going to have to disagree with your statement: "Europeans who opted not to follow or believe in the Soviet/Stalinist way of life. It's their continent. If they had chosen a path of surrender, there was little the U.S. could have done about it."

My point was that the Europeans did not cause the end of the USSR and had very little to do with its end (with the exception of certain leaders). Yes, they didn't opt to join the USSR, but the USSR was at their door-step for decades. The Pershing Missile situation resulted in mass demonstrations AGANST THE US - never the USSR who was placing missiles aimed at Europe.

All the while Reagan was pushing the USSR, many Europeans were convinced that this was far more dangerous than just letting the USSR alone (which you yourself said). We know now that this tactic broke the back of Soviet economy which lead to their abandonment of the Eastern bloc.

If the ambassador's point of reference was from 1990 forward, where does he come off with his claim of "older societies"? I'm smelling a mixed metaphor, of the socialist kind.

Are they supposed to get to arbitraily pick and choose the date of every point of reference for debate ?Typical tactic of the left. It's almost impossible to have an intelligent, fact- based discussion with a socialist dodgeballer.

Tom wrote: "If the ambassador's point of reference was from 1990 forward, where does he come off with his claim of "older societies"? I'm smelling a mixed metaphor, of the socialist kind."

Well, it doesn't matter anyway, because - as Jeff has already pointed out above - there was quite "something" going on in the Balkans in the 1990s. One would think the Ambassador should know about this...but maybe that's just me.
Must not confuse the left with facts. Or in other words: It's obvious with its response some posters here got the ambassy was just trying to weasel itself out.

@Jens-Olaf: Thank you for sharing that account. In fact, I'm currently reading "The Archipel Gulag" from Alexander Solschenizyn. He was a Captain of the Red Army in WWII and was actually imprisoned off the front while still fighting the Germans 1945, because he exchanged letters with some other officer on the "1. Ukrainian front". His book is not so much a personal account of his prison time but rather a massive round-up of the whole "Prison industry" and eradication of any individualism, self-thinking that in many cases only was *percieved* as a threat for communism. It is mind-boggling to read for what people went into prison. You understand why the very idea of communism is evil. When some clouded minds say: "Well, it wouldn't be so bad, it just doesn't work because mankind is not good enough" - this is the very point that is evil about communism. A "great idea" that declares mankind as "the problem", starts dissecting and destroying it in order to succeed is evil in its very roots. Mankind is not "too bad" for communism, instead communism is evilness.

And btw, Jens-Olaf, since as is given in this account that the Baltics and Poland resistence was waiting in vain for the West to come for help by opposing the Soviets militarily there - yes, and it was betrayal.
Betrayal because the nuclear threat was looming over any direct confrontations the two super-powers would engage in, as you know. Those countries involved in a proxy-situation had better chances for the West to stop communism from spreading there. But, as said, it was betrayal nontheless, and one would think in order to make at least *some* good and honor those who fought and waited in vain, you ought to hear more about it today. Though I don't see that happening in a world where quite a few people saw the fall of the Soviet Union not with rejoice, but somewhat saddened as just another "unfortunate" failure of a "great idea". And the others probably want to avoid talking about betrayed friends.

Steve,

I see another attempt by those of your stripe to rewrite history.

Do you actually believe the Eastern Europeans had a choice about the USSR?

I would present to you they had no more choice than they had when the Germans enslaved them.

I think the comments in opposition to Steve are misinterpreting him. He is not denying the role of the US. He is saying that the US could not have done it alone.

1) The Poles, Hungarians, etc forced the Soviets to spend a fortune year after year in armies of occupation. Berlin 1953, Budapest 1956, Prague 1968: those were Europeans dying, not Americans.

2) To be sure there were those in western Europe who were sympathetic to the USSR or antipathetic to the US (much the same thing in practice,) but there were more who were not. Does anyone believe that the US could or would have forced a military occupation on Europe for 45 years over the objections of democratically elected governments? Clearly the majority in western Europe supported for decades the effort to contain the USSR.

It does not detract from the honor that the US effort deserves to recognize the effort of people like Adenauer or Churchill or the millions who supported them.

Oops forgot to sign the above

Joe, you know as long as they get to vote, they're considered democratic.

Look at the EU - you peasants get to vote, you tell us no and you're going to get it anyway.

It's so simplisme.

--Moronic because his facts are wrong in his own preselected period: there was this little blood letting in what used to be Yugoslavia during the 1990's.
--

Little nothings, they're not included in the club?

1. What the ambassador says is the view of most Germans.
And I don't mean 60% but 90%.

2. He doesn't talk about 56 or 68, he means that the breakdown of Communism took place in spite of Reagan's
aggressive rhetoric and actions not because of it.
Germans believe it was mainly the Russians themselves/Gorbatschov that brought down the wall.

Let me get this correct what Peter is saying and what Jeff is defending is had the US withdrawn from Western Europe in the 50's, 60's, 70's, or early 80's, it would not have mattered as the outcome would have been the same.

God, we Americans are so stupid. It is truly sad because a lot of Americans died during that period in Europe for what amounts to nothing.

Even more reason to wind down NATO and get out the UN and leave Europe the the Europeans.

What a waste!

@ Joe

No, you do not have it correct.

"The honor that the US effort deserves" clearly recognizes the importance of what the US did. I recognize that "honor" is a word with two syllables and so was undoubtedly a bit difficult for you to grasp.

Jeff,

How many years did you spend on the inner Germany boarder with the false impression you were protecting the West?

@ Joe

None.

You may have been a boarder, but you do not know how to read.

Jeff,

Interesting. I had no difficulty at all understanding what you had written. As I said you were quick to jump to the defense of Peter. I admire that in you.

As I stated, I am sure Peter believes had ths US withdrawn Europe would just as it is today. This would have been without the cost of American treasure. I wonder if you also believe that?

So it was all a waste at the end of the day.

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