The Wasted Generation: Memoirs of the Romanian Journey from Capitalism to Socialism and Back

The Wasted Generation: Memoirs of the Romanian Journey from Capitalism to Socialism and Back

The Wasted Generation: Memoirs of the Romanian Journey from Capitalism to Socialism and Back

The Wasted Generation: Memoirs of the Romanian Journey from Capitalism to Socialism and Back

Synopsis

"In this vivid memoir, Silviu Brucan traces half a century of East European history, bringing to life the drama of a generation caught between the 1944 communist revolution and the 1989 anticommunist revolution. Brucan himself was at the heart of political power from World War II through the formation of a new government after the overthrow of Nicolae Ceausescu. After participating in the antifascist underground movement in World War II, he became acting editor of Romania's leading communist daily. He served as Romania's ambassador to the United States and then as its ambassador to the United Nations. He later grew disenchanted with the Ceausescu regime, becoming a prime mobilizer of popular support for reform and subsequently one of the leaders of the National Salvation Front. Brucan's insider position gave him a unique perspective on the inner workings of the Gheorghiu-Dej and Ceausescu regimes as well as of the political machinations of Soviet and other East European leaders. He reveals for the first time the details - available nowhere else - of secret meetings between communist leaders: the 1944 conspiracy with King Michael against the German occupation; the extraordinary 1945 meeting between Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej and Joseph Stalin when the Soviet dictator decided that Georghiu-Dej and not Ana Pauker should lead the Romanian Communist Party; the secret mission assigned to Gheorghiu-Dej by Nikita Khrushchev during the 1956 revolution to install Janos Kadar as leader of the communist party; the 1958 Khrushchev-Gheorghiu-Dej meeting after a bear hunt in the Carpathians, which appeared to be a chat between two canny old peasants but concluded with Khrushchev's decision to withdraw Soviet troops from Romania; and Ceausescu's astute maneuver to seize power while Gheorghiu-Dej was on his deathbed. Brucan then recounts the real story behind the 1989 revolution, which was rooted in earlier plots to overthrow Ceausescu. He traces his own memorable transformation from staunch communist to outspoken critic of the regime, weaving his own story within the larger framework of his country's transformation and hopes for the future." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

My generation in Eastern Europe was caught in the middle of two revolutions (1944 and 1989), which instead of moving history ahead pushed it backward. We thus at first made a U-turn -- a tortuous one, to be sure -- from underdeveloped capitalism to underdeveloped socialism, but because socialism and underdevelopment are strange bedfellows, we have since discovered we were on the wrong path and are trying now to return to where we started. The drama of that generation is what this book is about.

For the first revolution at the end of World War II, which produced all the trouble, we Romanians cannot be blamed: Its scenario was written by Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin in the Kremlin on the evening of 9 October 1944. With his unmatched cynicism, Churchill recounted in his memoirs how the crux of the discussion on "our affairs in the Balkans" was percentages of influence -- as if the two were dealing with company dividends or bank assets -- with the Soviet Union getting eventually 90 percent of Romania, and Great Britain 90 percent of Greece. Stalin's hard bargain must have gone like this: If you yield this much of Romania, I will grant you a little more of Greece. But one must admit that once the deal was concluded, both leaders kept their end of the bargain, although for public consumption they lodged protests filled with indignation at each act of the drama. Great Britain went so far as to accept the elimination of opposition parties in Romania and even the sacrifice of King Michael, while Moscow left its comrade General Marcos crying for ammunition and starving in the mountains of Greece. Shocking -- but not for those familiar with the diplomatic history of the great powers.

We in Romania, gullible dupes and faithful believers in the new Soviet Man, proclaimed with pride: We brought about the revolution and with but little help from the Red Army. In truth, we merely played to the best of our ability the roles cast for us in the Moscow scenario.

With the second revolution, things were different. The Big Two -- George Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev -- were so absorbed with their historic nuclear deal in Malta that they left us alone, and we had to handle . . .

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