THE HAUNTED LAND by Tina Rosenberg


Facing Europe's Ghosts after Communism
Email this review


 MacArthur Foundation grant recipient Rosenberg follows her acclaimed study of Latin America's transition to democracy, Children of Cain (1991), with a similar look at Eastern Europe, specifically, the former Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Germany. After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the movement toward something like democracy in the former Warsaw Pact countries, those nations were faced with the dilemma of how to address the crimes of the previous regimes. In Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Germany this shared problem was met with solutions of varying degrees of efficacy. Lustrace, the Czech policy, used names culled from secret police files to purge alleged informers and secret police agents from public office; but the results have been so disastrous that some leading dissidents have found themselves tarred with the brush of stool pigeon. In Poland, General Wojciech Jaruzelski was placed on trial by the new government for invoking martial law in 1981, an act he claims was taken to avert a Russian invasion. In Germany, a somewhat fairer version of lustrace has been installed, but former East German border guards were tried for murder in the shooting of their escaping countrymen in the last days of the Wall. Rosenberg recounts the events in these three responses to the past with a firm grasp of the issues at stake and a finely balanced moral sense. The result is a thoughtful book about ``human beings' ability to rewrite the past to suit the present'' and the necessity of facing the past as it really was. The book is slightly marred by some repetitiveness, and the author lacks the encyclopedic grasp that Timothy Garton Ash or Misha Glenny have of the region's history and politics, but there is much of value here. An intelligent examination of a complex issue, a useful corrective to the euphoria of the West in the wake of its ostensible victory in the Cold War.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-679-42215-3
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1995


NonfictionJOIN THE CLUB by Tina Rosenberg
by Tina Rosenberg
NonfictionCHILDREN OF CAIN by Tina Rosenberg
by Tina Rosenberg


IndieDriving In Budapest by Gary V. Brill
by Gary V. Brill
NonfictionGOTTLAND by Mariusz Szczygiel
by Mariusz Szczygiel