The Ultimate Weapon

The Ultimate Weapon

The Ultimate Weapon

The Ultimate Weapon

Excerpt

This> book is an attempt to define, within the framework of my personal experience in the Soviet Union, Germany, and Western Europe, the profound revolution which has taken place in the political thinking of a continent exposed to totalitarianism, two devastating world wars, and the threat of a third within our lifetime.

I left Russia in 1922 at the age of fourteen, lived for several years in France, and was teaching French history and literature in Riga, capital of Latvia, when in 1940 that tiny Baltic land was occupied by the Red Army and annexed by the Soviet Union. Until the Soviet occupation of the Baltic states, I had read with equal skepticism those Western writers who claimed that the Soviet rulers were building a better world and those who asserted that life under Stalin was an eternal nightmare. The truth, I thought, probably lay midway. If anything, I accepted the Soviet occupation in a mood of hopeful curiosity. Life under the intolerant, semi-totalitarian regime of the Latvian leader, Karlis Ulmanis, seemed drab, regimented, and provincial. However, a few weeks of Soviet occupation were enough to disillusion me completely. The brutal techniques of Sovietization made the Ulmanis dictatorship seem humane by comparison. Soviet rule swiftly brought mass arrests, deportations, total censorship, compulsory collectivization that ruined the country's farmers, and elaborate system of internal espionage and endless purges. After one year of Soviet occupation, discontent in Latvia had reached such proportions that its people looked to war between the Soviet Union and Germany as their only hope of salvation.

When the war did break out in June, 1941, I watched columns of Red Army soldiers fall back eastward to the rattling of shots fired at them by civilians from cellars and roofs. The first German troops to enter Riga were greeted as liberators. I have since . . .

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