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Much of the debates in this book revolves around Milan Kundera and his 1984 essay “The Tragedy of Central Europe.” Kundera wrote his polemical text when the world was pregnant with imminent social and political change, yet that world was still far from realizing that we would enter the last decade of the twentieth century with the Soviet empire and its network of satellite states missing from the political map. Kundera was challenged by Joseph Brodsky and György Konrád for allegedly excluding Russia from the symbolic space of Europe, something the great author deeply believes he never did.
To what extent was Kundera right in assuming that, if to exist means to be present in the eyes of those we love, then Central Europe does not exist anymore, just as Western Europe as we knew it has stopped existing? What were the mental, cultural, and intellectual realities that lay beneath or behind his beautiful and graceful metaphors? Are we justified in rehabilitating political optimism at the beginning of the twenty-first century? Are we able to reconcile the divided memories of Eastern or Central Europe and Western Europe regarding what happened to the world in 1968? And where is Central Europe now?
Life Stories of Lithuanian Women, 1945 – 1970
Author: Dalia Leinarte
For millions of people, the Soviet experience meant not only living through the torment of Stalinism and the GULAG, the unbelievable destiny of men and women during the 1917 Revolution, civil war, and the Second World War, or those breathtaking, gigantic Socialist construction projects. Many citizens of the former Soviet Union lived “ordinary lives in ordinary times”, where the fate of men and women depended not on armed coercion, but Soviet ideology and propaganda. Adopting and Remembering Soviet Reality contains the stories of ten women, talking about their lives in Soviet Lithuania, one of the annexed Baltic republics. The book gives a compelling account of how, in the last years of Stalin’s rule, after 1945, during the so-called “Khrushchev Thaw”, and in the beginning of the “Stagnation Era”, Soviet ideology transfused the everyday life of women and dictated just about every major aspect of their lives. Based on interviews, the journalistic press of that era, as well as other material, the book reveals how propaganda shaped women’s understanding of family and work responsibilities, child care, interpersonal relationships, romantic love, and friendship.
For 20 years Soviet psychiatric abuse dominated the agenda of the World Psychiatric Association. It ended only after the Soviet Foreign Ministry intervened. Cold War in Psychiatry tells the full story for the first time and from inside, among others on basis of extensive reports by Stasi and KGB – who were the secret actors, what were the hidden factors?
Based on a wealth of new evidence and documentation as well as interviews with many of the main actors, including leading Western psychiatrists, Soviet dissidents and Soviet and East German key figures, the book describes the issue in all its complexity and puts it in a broader context. In the book opposite sides find common ground and a common understanding of what actually happened.
This volume focuses on a previously under-researched area, namely exile in and from Czechoslovakia in the years prior to the Second World War as well as during the wartime and post-war periods. The study considers, firstly, the refugees from Germany and Austria who fled to Czechoslovakia during the 1930s; secondly, the refugees from Czechoslovakia, both German and Czech-speaking, who arrived in Britain in or around 1938 as refugees from Fascism; and thirdly, those who fled from Communism in 1948. From a variety of perspectives, the book examines the refugees’ activities and achievements in a range of fields, both on a collective and an individual basis. The volume will be of interest to scholars and students of twentieth century history, politics and cultural studies as well as those involved in Central European Studies and Exile Studies. It will also appeal to a general readership with an interest in Britain and Europe in the 1930s and 1940s.
From The Soviet Union of Leonid Brezhnev to the "Soviet Union" of Vladimir Putin
The book contains the memoirs of Robert van Voren covering the period 1977-2008 and provides unique insights into the dissident movement in the Soviet Union in the 1980s, both inside the country and abroad. As a result of his close friendship with many of the leading dissidents and his dozens of trips to the USSR as a courier, he had intimate knowledge of the ins and outs of the dissident movement and participated in many of the campaigns to obtain the release of Soviet political prisoners. In the late 1980s he became involved in building a humane and ethical practice of psychiatry in Eastern Europe and the (ex-) USSR, based on respect for the human rights of persons with mental illness. The book describes the dissident movement and many of the people who formed it, mental health reformers in Eastern Europe and the response of the Western psychiatric community, the battle with the World Psychiatric Association over Soviet, and later, Chinese political abuse of psychiatry, his contacts with former KGB officers and problems with the KGB’s successor organization, the FSB. It also vividly describes the emotional effects of serving as a courier for the dissident movement, the fear of arrest, the pain of seeing friends disappear for many years into camps and prisons, sometimes never to return.
Fourteen Hard Questions and Straight Answers about a Baltic Country
Author: Jukka Rislakki
What do we know about Latvia and the Latvians? A Baltic (not Balkan) nation that emerged from fifty years under the Soviet Union – interrupted by a brief but brutal Nazi-German occupation and a devastating war – now a member of the European Union and NATO. Yes, but what else? Relentless accusations keep appearing, especially in Russian media, often repeated in the West: “Latvian soldiers single-handedly saved Lenin’s revolution in 1917”, “Latvians killed Tsar Nikolai II and the Royal family”, “Latvia was a thoroughly anti-Semitic country and Latvians started killing Jews even before the Germans arrived in 1941”, “Nazi revival is rampant in today's Latvia”, “The Russian minority is persecuted in Latvia...”
True, false or in-between? The Finnish journalist and author Jukka Rislakki examines charges like these and provides an outline of Latvia's recent history while attempting to separate documented historical fact from misinformation and deliberate disinformation. His analysis helps to explain why the Baltic States (population 7 million) consistently top the enemy lists in public opinion polls of Russia (143 million). His knowledge of the Baltic languages allows him to make use of local sources and up-to-date historical research. He is a former Baltic States correspondent for Finland's largest daily newspaper Helsingin Sanomat and the author of several books on Finnish and Latvian history. As a neutral, experienced and often critical observer, Rislakki is uniquely qualified for the task of separating truth from fiction.
Identity and Independence
In the span of only seventy years, Estonia first proclaimed its independence, was occupied and deprived of its sovereignty, saw many of its citizens deported, and yet managed to recover its independence. How did this small nation keep its language and traditions alive during half a century of occupation, and how did it maintain such a vivid sense of identity? For the first time in English, this book gives a comprehensive view of the events which shaped the destiny of contemporary Estonia. The Editor, Jean-Jacques Subrenat, has called upon an unusually broad spectrum of the best experts (in history, archeology, political science, genetics, literature), but also on some of the leaders who took part in the rebuilding of Estonia, to offer more than a history, rather a unique testimony on a nation reborn.
Estonia: Identity and Independence provides rare insight into the many aspects of a country whose location in Northern Europe, within the European Union, and as a NATO ally, but also as a close neighbour of Russia, deserves the attention of scholars, journalists, and informed readers today. This volume includes a thorough chronology of Estonia (from prehistory to accession to the European Union), and a brief c.v. of each co-author. Estonia: Identity and Independence is also available in three other languages (Estonian, Russian, French).
The Lithuanian Jews, Litvaks, played an important and unique role not only within the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, but in a wider context of Jewish life and culture in Eastern Europe, too. The changing world around them at the end of the nineteenth century and during the first decades of the twentieth had a profound impact not only on the Jewish communities, but also on a parallel world of the “others,” that is, those who lived with them side by side. Exploring and demonstrating this development from various angles is one of the themes and objectives of this book. Another is the analysis of the Shoah, which ended the centuries of Jewish culture in Lithuania: a world of its own had vanished within months. This book, therefore, “recalls” that vanished world. In doing so, it sheds new light on what has been lost.
The papers presented in this collection were delivered at the international conferences in Nida (1997) and Telšiai (2001), Lithuania. Participants came from Israel, the USA, Great Britain, Poland, Russia, Belarus, Germany, and Lithuania.