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tv   Q A  CSPAN  December 16, 2012 11:00pm-12:00am EST

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applebaum. later, the service earlier tonight in newtown, connecticut . the expression -- he coined the expression iron curtain. it was such an evocative
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description of what happened when he gave the speech that i thought it was important to put that the beginning of the book. >> did you ever think of what he called that the iron curtain? >> there is a long story. it is a theatrical term. there was an iron curtain theaters used to use to prevent fires. churchill used it first in private. >> you know why? >> it was a favor for truman. that is where truman was from. >> let's get a slice of that speech. >> an iron curtain has descended
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across the continent. behind that line, like all the capitals of the ancient states of central and eastern europe -- berlin, prague, vienna, budapest, belgrade, bucharest. all of these famous cities and the population around them lying in rubble -- lie under the soviet sphere. >> why did you want to talk about this? >> i was inspired in my first book, and while this is in no way a sequel it represents thoughts i had. one thing i got interested in is the question why no people went along with it. what is the mentality?
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what are institutional pressures? why do camp guard do what they are told to do? i decided to write about this period right after world war ii, because it was a time the soviet union had reached a height, there was an apotheosis of stalinism. it was reinforced by the experience of the war. by 1945, it was a fully developed system with an economic theory and a clear ideology, and it was at this moment the red army marched into central europe and began imposing that system on the central european states, so you can see how from scratch -- what did the soviets think their system was? what did they think was important, and how did they try to carry it out? >> where did they get to right to march into eastern europe? >> they were the victors of the war.
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hitler had invaded germany in 1941, and they fought back against the germans, and they kept going against berlin. >> define stalinism. >> stalinism was a developed system of control. it believed it could control everything, not only in politics and economics but social life, civic life, sports clubs and chess clubs. in the stalinist system, there were no independent institutions of any kind. no independent voices of any kind were allowed to speak. all the economy was under state control, and all of society was. there was a cultural aspect, too. the arts were under stalinist control, and there was a cold of stalin himself. his portrait hung everywhere.
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there was a cult of stalin himself. >> i grew up in a small town of indiana, and one of my streets, you talk about radio casuth. >> he was was a hungarian hero of an earlier time. there was a radio, and they adopted the name of a previous deliberate thing hero, and in 1956 he would have to call it anti-stalinist radio. >> what was the circumstance? >> 56 is the end of the stalinist period. he died in 53, and after 53 people want to begin to reform
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the system. in '56, you have the revival of what i have just described, so if stalinism was an attempt to put everything under state control, 1956 was the revenge of civil society, when people began reorganizing themselves, reorganizing social life independently and spontaneously, and among other things, creating independent radio station. >> you said it took six years to do this. >> it depends on how you count. >> what i really want you to do is back up and tell me what you went through and what you were trying to find out and how you did this book. >> my inspiration was the idea i wanted to explain how totalitarianism happens. we do know the story of the cold war. we know the documents we have
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seen, the archives that describe the relationship between roosevelt and stalin and truman, we note the minivans from our point of view. what i wanted to do was show from the ground up, what did it feel like to be one of the people who were subjected to this system, and how do people make choices in that system, and how do they react and behavior? i started systematically. i went through archives in warsaw and berlin and budapest. i looked at government archives. i looked at secret police archives, all of which are now open, some of them easier to use than others. some give a better and worse account. in this part of the world the archives are open, and you can reach them. i looked at institutions, so i looked at the hon. film industry.
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how did the hungarian film industry -- how did it become a social realist film industry? it had a different background. i look at german painters. germany had a vibrant abstract art movement in the 1930's and the 1920's. they came back to berlin, thinking they would be able to paint what they wanted. many were communists and discovered actually they were not going to be allowed to. how did they react and, some of them taught themselves to paint again. i looked at some economic questions. in particular, i was interested in small shops and retailing. this was the hardest part of the
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economy to control, so i looked at the files of the ministry of economics in germany and poland. i look at the secret police documents because i was looking at the origin of the secret police. how was it created? who were the people? where did they come from? how were they trained? i went through all this. in addition, i used soviet documents, some of which have been published or made available in the 1990's which were not available anymore. there is a wonderful collection in warsaw in about 1991 or 1992. the polish military archive sent a researcher and a couple of machines to moscow, and they'd xerox all of the archives that had anything to do with the red army's liberation of poland in 1944 and 1945, and is an encounter with the resistance. it is all xeroxed.
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there is a tremendous amount of available. in a way my problem was what not to use. i spoke to people as well. >> where do you live? >> i now lived in warsaw. >> how old are your kids? >> my kids are 15 and 12. >> where do they live? >> they live also some of the time in warsaw and sometime in london. >> what does your husband do? >> my husband is a polish foreign minister. he was not a foreign minister when i met him. he was a journalist in 1989 when i met him. he came to report on communism in eastern europe. i met him, and we drove to berlin on the november night when the wall fell and spent the evening sitting on the wall
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taking added with a chisel. i got married to him a year later. >> what did it mean at the time? what did it mean when you were sitting there one that wall came down? when was it? >> 1989. people have forgotten how much fun it was. it was a very exhilarating time in history, but they have also forgotten how nervous people were. i remember sitting on the wall, and it was 4:00 in the morning, and everyone was awake, but there were hundreds of people sitting on top of the berlin wall, and there was a wall and then no man's land. they were standing there very nervous. at 4:00 in the morning everyone has drunk champagne, and they have already some the national anthem, so what you do next seven?
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people started to jump off the walls, and the guards would rush over and throw people back. it was not entirely as satisfying moment. i discovered as we were sitting there that east german politburo was trying to decide what to do about these people sitting on the wall and should they start shooting? it could have ended differently. >> i am going to run an interview with your husband. his name is? >> roddick. >> you have been defense minister for how long? >> six weeks. >> prior to that you have been living in the state's for several years. >> three years. i have been with the ministry before i was a deputy.
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>> here in washington you are known as mr. anne applebaum. >> i am proud to be married to anne. >> seven years ago. >> he looks so young. >> does he look that young today? >> he looks wonderful. >> what does that mean that he is now a minister of poland? how does that figure into your interested? >> it does not figure in directly. i have a background in knowledge i would not have otherwise. he does not influence me in a direct way. he is not sitting with me in the archives while i am looking of what happened to the hon. film director in 1947 -- while i am looking at what happened to the hungarian film director in 1947.
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having this connection gives me some empathy and what happened there. >> what are the residuals from world war ii two today in eastern europe? anything? >> one of the things that happened since 1989 is the region we used to call eastern europe has become very differentiated. these countries no longer have anything in common with one another, except a common memory of communist occupation. poland is as different as greece is from some land. europe is now divided in many ways. there are a few elements of the communist past you can see. there is a paranoid element in politics that comes from the legacy of people being spied on and having lived in an oppressive system. they are more paranoid about secret deals behind their backs, because secret deals were done behind their backs, and that is understandable. there is an anxiety about being
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left behind in the west. the memory of the past continues to play out, but in truth, these countries are more different from one another than they are similar. >> you chose three of eight countries behind the iron curtain? >> it depends on how you count. >> what were the three democrats i chose to poland, hungary, and east germany. they have different historical background. they belong to different empires in the 19th century. they have different political traditions and mostly because they have given experiences of the war. germany was nazi germany. poland resisted very strongly. the nazis had one of the most resistant movements in europe. the hon variants were different. they were -- the hungarians were different. i was interested in how did they
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react and the subsequent process of sovietization. >> how would you describe the situation in the country's today, the lifestyle, the economy, the openness to democracy and all that? >> all of them are democracies. east germany is not east germany. it is part of germany, so it is indistinguishable. west germany is poorer in some ways than poland, a country that has recovered more vigorously than the eastern part of germany. poland is a very vibrant democracy, maybe too vibrant, but it plays a very important and central role in europe. it is a member of nato.
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it is the largest of the former east european countries. it has a larger role in that region than anybody else. hungary is still a democracy, and it is a liberal capitalist states. it has been badly governed and the last 20 years, and if this bill in many ways -- there are many hungarian institutions that have not been reformed much. there is a far right in hungary. there is an unattractive and left as well. it is a less happy and less stable state, but it is still a democracy and still a very open society. >> at what point in your research did you say i did not know that? >> constantly. i was constantly running into -- one of the things that happens when you read archives, when you
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read communist archives, you discover behind closed doors of the communist officials are much more open than they are in a they are in public, so they are always saying -- communist officials are much more open than they are in public. they were not just mouthing slogans. they believe a proletarian revolution was coming and if we just do the right things we will be able to create its, and they are constantly surprised by what goes wrong. it is supposed to happen this way. the peasants and workers are supposed to support us, but they do not. they argue we need more ideology or more of this and more of that. they discover they are not producing as much as they need to. they are always looking for ways
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they have the evidence. they know what has gone wrong, and they cannot figure out how to fix it. >> how do the leaders live compared to the proletariat? >> the leaders lived in isolated communities. they were cut off from the rest of society. now they have access to privileges that may not seem so extraordinary to us, but at that time they had indoor plumbing and access to all kinds of food at a time there were great shortages, so the leaders were very isolated, very protected, often surrounded by servants, maids, employees of the states and the interior ministry, said they were protected at all times, and they were nervous about making public appearances. they were anxious. >> how did that track with the
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idea everybody should be equal? likes it is an interesting question. all the pigs are equal, and some are more equal than others. this developed in the course of the revolution. they thought we were working hard. if they were asked to justify we would have said, we are working hard on behalf of the state. we are the avaunt guard. we will lead the proletariat into the full state of communism. we are not there yet, and until we have reached a full state of communism we have to have temporary inequalities. that would be the justification. what went through their heads, one does not want to know. >> how did you do with translation? how much did you do yourself? >> i speak polish and three polish fluidly. i read and speak russian. in hungarian i have translators.
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they were people who had worked in archives before and did a lot of translations. but i literally went around with them, so we would go to the main federal archives, sit in the back, open the document, and she would start whispering in my ear, and everyone would go sh! i talked by way through these things.
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why did they open, and who shot them? >> the archives were opened in the 1990 costs at a time when the russians were in the wake of the union. there was a movement to end secrecy and discussed the past. this came from the ground up, and people at the top supported it. the archives began to open in
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the 1990's and in some ways were extraordinarily successful. archives began to open for western scholars. i worked a lot in russia during the 1990's, and i began to have the impression one of the other reasons they were open is because russians were so preoccupied with other things they did not care. as a young american woman, how could you beat walking around those archives? the idea was, she wants to look at those documents, so what? we are busy reforming our country. in 2000 putin became president of russia, and he became conscious of what history was told and how it was being told, and this trickle-down.
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he became more wary about what archives were opened and who had access to information. they are not totally closed, and you can still work in them. some of them become difficult, particularly the military archives. >> w bush came into the presidency. he made it difficult to get some for you could get access to his father. what is the difference between that attitude and what you have in these countries? is it a matter of degree, or do we have a different attitude? >> we believe in principle it should be open, and we argue around the edges of what is still classified and how long should it be classified and when will historians have access to it now? the soviet union assumed all of it was closed and nobody would ever have access. what worries we are returning to
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that kind of attitude. it is not just let's wait until everybody is dead and then we can talk about it, but nobody is ever going to have access to it. it is secret, and the truth does not get out. >> why do they keep it there if they are never going to let it out? >> the kgb writes its own books. it writes its own histories -- wrote i should say, wrote its own descriptions and kept them inside its building. they are interested in their own history. >> how do we deal with the world of openness when it comes to archives? but the u.s. is better than many european countries. many u.s. archives are easier to use. cia archives are harder to use i would argue they could be more
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open, particularly older ones. that can all be done, but the national archives and -- i actually have not worked in it, but friends i know is easy. >> go back to when you started this book in 1944, and it goes to 1956. how did the soviets take over eastern europe? what did they use? you mentioned a lot of stuff earlier, but give us some examples. >> there were three or four institutions they considered important. if you look at the world in 1945, stalin did not have plans. he did not have a 10-point plan. he was an opportunist and a tactician. he had a conviction sooner or
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later these would become communist countries, because marx's ideology said so. it said there will be international revolutions and the soviet union will bring these revolutions to the countries. he had a conviction it would happen but not a lot of certainty about when. what he did to make sure he had enough influence -- i will choose three institutions in particular he thought were important. number one was the secret police. he created a secret police forces speaking the local languages, sometimes from the soviet union, and began training them, and they began doing that right away. they begin in 1939, and they began creating a polish secret
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police force and then, and they began importing them when they began chasing the germans out of poland. that is number one, and that institution is used in turn to target people, so the soviet union does not use mass violence. you did not see mass murder. what they begin to do is they look for potential opponents, and this can be church leaders. it can be resistance leaders. the first encounters between the red army and the polish resistance army are very violent. the red army arrested them and send them to labor camps, and this may sound paradoxical, but
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it was because they plan from the beginning to eliminate or suppress leadership of these countries, potential leaders, and this was the home army. the second institution, they set up oppressive organs. the other institution they were obsessed with was radio. they were interested in radio because they thought of the radio as the most effective means of reaching the masses, reaching the workers. >> no television at the time? >> there was no television at the time. there was television they get later. television essentially serves a similar function. everywhere they go one of the first things they do is takeover or create new radio stations.
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in central berlin they occupy the nazi radio station a immediately. as soon as they get there they protected from harm. some of the communists are sent to work on the radio station. that is how important they consider it to be. in poland they create a radio station from scratch. they believe in the efficacy of their own propaganda. once we began to explain to people what they want, they will go along with us, and the radio is going to be the means by which to do this, so they care a enormously. the third thing, another thing they do very early before they
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eliminate political opposition, and before they have nationalize the economy, they began to target youth groups, and other kinds of women's groups, charitable organizations, church organizations. these are the groups they want to put under state control. they do not want any institutions of the kind to come into existence. >> let me ask you about the ymca in poland. >> they did have a building in warsaw. it was one of the few buildings to exist. very soon after the war people began to move into it. they have resources from outside. they were able to do things like bring in clothings and from the west and to feed people and set up soup kitchens.
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because of a shipment of jazz records that arrived at the ymca, it became the center of social life, and it was a place you went to go to parties in 1947 and 1948. you imagine a city where everything is rubble and there is almost nothing standing. the ymca, this poses such a threat and such a problem that at the highest level the communist leaders right to one another, we must do something. we must destroy the ymca. they close it up, and in a tragic moment, the communist youth group is sending to smash it, because anything that is a spontaneous organization is seen as a potential threat to the regime. at one point you mentioned sartre and picasso.
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what role did they play? >> sartre was a philosopher of the time. picasso was one of the great modernist painters. at one time they were either communist or communist sympathizers. both of them were seen as a justification. if even people like picasso and satre were communists, it was ok for other people. picasso was taken to see a new apartment block was being built in the city, of homes for the workers project, which was seen as a sign for progressive architecture, and he painted a
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picture of one of these new apartments, which later became a mini tourist attraction. they became annoyed by the amount of people who knocked on the door to see the sketch on the wall, survey painted on it. >> if you were going to send people to a number of places today in eastern europe but that would somehow reflect those years, what would you sing? >> i would send you to warsaw. you can do a visual archaeology. you can see what was killed when, and there were a number of prominent stalinist and buildings in the center of warsaw, including the palace of culture, which was a skyscraper
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built in the high architectural style, and you get an idea of what it looks like aesthetically. >> we talked about it earlier -- the jews of europe. how many have moved back into either eastern germany or poland or hungary? >> i am not going to remember off the top of my head the numbers. you have them in the book. >> the reason i ask is if many of the jews have moved back. >> many thousands have moved back. many thousands have survived. they were in disguise. they survived the war. more survive in hungary than is generally known, particularly in the city of budapest. the attack on hon. jews happen later in the war. effectively, -- the attack on
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hungarian jews happen later in the war. a large community survive in budapest, a couple hundred thousand, which is a significant number. in poland they survive in all kinds of ways. many survive are going to the soviet union. many came home to find what was left. one very sad and moving archival document said many come home just to see the cemeteries and then leave because they do not want to be there anymore. jews to come back. some try to make new lives there. some joined the communist party. the communist party has an attraction not just for jews, but for anybody who experience the devastation of the war and the shattering of morality the war brought.
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many people did see in communism a kind of alternatives. maybe this system will work. liberal democracy did not work. the west did not come to our aid. maybe there is some alternative. there was a brief time when people were listening to the radio station, and it was attractive for jews who had nothing else that were excluded from all kinds of politics not only in the war but before. they come back. it is a strange and hard story to tell because some joined the communist party, and some immediately come into conflict with the communist party because many were small merchants, and they were subject to the nationalization and takeover of this period and begin to leave, and large groups begin to leave for israel in the late 1940's, some with a complicated story --
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some leave with aid of those countries. there are a couple of moments when they helped train jews. >> you write about -- at one point the two words mickey and mouse come out. what is that about? >> i was describing the origins of a famous song. there is a song called the song of the party. the lyrics go the party is right. while i went to look for somebody singing a song, i found a number of parody's, including mickey mouse singing it. this became a song in later years people would make fun of.
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what interested me is you can make fun of it now, but people were seeing it 30 years ago in berlin or 40 years ago in berlin. why did they sing it? this was the introduction to my chapter of what i described as reluctant contribution. >> is in german. here is some of the language here. wherever she was, there is life. we are what we are because of her. she never abandoned us. now she is always right. >> it is hard to know what people believe. some would like to believe it or would hope to believe it. some people felt they have to believe it, and some people felt it was ok even if you did not
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believe it because it was a minor sacrifice to make for keeping your job in your house in keeping your children in school. >> we found this on youtube. it is not labeled, so we do not know where it comes from. it is sung by a man born in 1900. he is german. >> [singing in german]
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>> who were some of the people we saw? >> i saw walter, the head of the party who was the little stalin of the period.
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he is standing next to the president of east germany. i saw mao, castro, stalin. >> what started to break up the control of the soviets? >> it is very important to look at this period when you ask that. the soviet union contains the seeds of its own destruction. many of the problems we saw at the end begin at the very beginning. i spoke already about the attempt to control all institutions and all parts of the economy and political and social life.
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when you do that, you create opposition and potential dissonance everywhere. if you tell all artists they have to paint the same way, and one says i do not want to, you have just made him into somebody who might otherwise have been a- political. if you tell boy scouts they have to be young pioneers, and one group decides they do not like that, so they form a secret underground group, you have just created another group of political opponents. the system created pockets of resistance. just as important, the other element you can see from the beginning is the gap that is growing between the ideology.
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it does not happen that way. it happens but not really. or there is some growth but the west is growing faster. the fact that the system is never able to fulfill its promises means by the end, even have the people leading it do not believe it anymore. the loss of faith in the system, which begins in the 1940's and grows worse and worse, means that there is nobody left to defend it. not even soviet leadership at the very highest level was able to extend, once the conversation was begun about history and what is really wrong. as soon as people did not have to collaborate anymore, they did not obligated to go along with
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what the party wanted and to sing the song that the party is always right, and they stopped. >> after the wall came down, we did a 30-hour special. i remember interviewing a man who was one of those who started the revolution. he turns out to be a member of the stasi. he ratted on his own family and ended up moving. i am not sure he is still alive. what kind of mentality is it? he helped the revolution began back to freedom but he was a member of the secret police in east germany. >> it is incredibly complicated. more so than we in the u.s.
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would like to think. people were not often have one thing or another. many peoples zigzag throughout their lives. they are telling jokes behind the back of the party, or hiding somebody who might be imprisoned. people tried to find a path they felt was moral and right. in a time when the state controlled everything, this is very difficult. it often helps to think about if you have children, would you be willing to say, i will not march in the parade, i will not do all of these things, if you know it means your child will be expelled from school and will not be able to study and will not have a future and will not
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be educated? these are dramatic, radical choices people make. they had to give up things it would never occur to us to give up in order to make a political point. it is more drastic, although even then, there were degrees. there were people who thought they would inform a little bit and not say anything important and i will do with so i can protect my wife who is ill and needs to get medicine from the hospital perry if i do this, i will get medicine for her and she will not die. even then, sometimes, the choices were much more gray and complicated than we now imagine sitting here in a free society. >> what is the difference between all the favoritism back then to the people of party and what goes on in this town when you are in power and we have earmarks?
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pick your moment. people in power here dish out favors to people based on whether or not you follow the party. >> the difference is there is no threat of violence behind it. that is one difference. if you do not vote for the republican party or the democratic party, you do not go to jail or you are not going to be arrested and your child will not be expelled from school. there is really a dramatic difference between the consequences and the radical nature of choices people had to make. the second difference is that our system is more or less open. we know what stuff goes on. we can have an argument about it and discuss it. they were entirely closed. you did not necessarily know what is going on.
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>> are there any lessons in your book for the people who live in china? there is not the openness. what would you say about the chinese leaders about their future? >> the chinese leaders have drawn lessons from these stories. the chinese leaders know this piece of history, and there is a similar time in their own history, and they also have studied very carefully the 1980's. one of the decisions they have made based on setting this piece of history is that they have made contemporary china last totalitarian in the sense that they do not make people march in parades and they have abandoned ideology of making people repeat what they do not believe in. the pressures they put on people are in that sense less. it is more subtle.
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you can talk about corruption, but maybe not criticize the party directly. there are unwritten rules of speech. i would say what the chinese will have to be careful of is the moment when the basis of their legitimacy begins to deteriorate. right now, they argue it has the right to stay in power because it is bringing fast growth. and the people at the top are specially trained. as growth falls and as it becomes clear some of those people are the children of important people and they are not such wonderful --
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>> your husband is a foreign minister of poland. you live part of the time in london. what was the difference between the life of people living in poland and the people who live in the united states. freedom, openness, democracy? >> nothing of significance. people in the united states are wealthier generally, but in terms of civic freedom and political freedom, i do not think there is any significant difference. >> what about the overall network, the social network, how well they take care of people there vs here? >> you are not comparing apples with apples. it depends where and which state and who you are talking about in the united states.
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poland is much smaller. in this country, civil society is far more developed and richer in the range of charities and institutions we have here. for the region, poland has a very developed society. the next day, people started organizing private kindergartens because there were people who were ready to do stuff right away. poland does have some of that. you do not have the depth of it. you do have state health care in poland and it varies. >> does it work? >> sometimes. it depends on how sick you are. >> cost of living? >> it is lower.
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again, salaries are lower, too. >> in the back of your book, you go down the list of people who supported you in this project. how did this happen? the smith richardson foundation. paul gregory. how do you get support for something like this? >> i write letters and ask. >> what do they want? >> it is a formal application process. you fill it out, apply, and get references. i am one of many hundreds of grantees. >> how much time does it take you to get this support? >> it depends. i described you my intense relationship with my two translators. i could not have paid for them
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without support from a range of institutions. >> who would read this and make it -- >> i want people who are interested in the people of europe who do not know anything about this region. i would be most happy if people who read it do not know anything about poland or communism or russia. people who are new to the subject. if teenagers read it, people in a 20's, i will be happy. >> what is the difference between being a marxist and a stalinist? >> marxism describes a philosophy, a very complex and deep philosophy. being a stalinist implies something more political. a follower of stalin. that is the narrower term.
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>> what is italian fascism vs german fascism? >> they have similar routes. the word "totalitarian," everything was in the state and nothing was out of the state. that was why it appears in this book. i introduced the book by speaking about totalitarianism. where does the idea come from? what are the intellectual origins of the word? >> what is next? >> many things. i would love to write a book about 1989. why it all fell apart. i would like to write a book about ukrainian famine.
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>> how long do you intend to live in europe? >> there is no end date. it is an investment. >> how often do you write for "the washington post"? >> every other week. >> what do they want you to do? >> what i usually want to do is described some perspective on international and american affairs from a different view. i live outside the united states. i might see foreign policy, i might see american policy from a different angle. that is what i can do on that page that others cannot. >> your kids are going to do what? >> it is not a good moment to go into journalism. they are both bilinguals. one may go a different way.
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>> the name of the book is "iron curtain: the crushing of eastern europe. our guest is anne applebaum. thank you. >> thank you. >> for a dvd copy of this program call 1-877-662-7726. for free transcripts or to give us your comments about this program, visit us at www.q-and- "q&a" programs are also available as c-span podcasts. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2012]
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your >> which men of his class, they're not going to apologize and he had away of turning the tables and his version of an apology and a very kind man, the issue was never settled. heelys had to get the last word. -- he always had to get the last word. he should not have been out all. i pushed him into a doorway and a couple of thompson's men -- did not like to be touched.
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thompson, don't do that. that's dangerous. i'm only doing this -- >> paul read, lion," on c-span q&a . >> followed by a hearing on high-speed rail, remarks from newtown, connecticut. tomorrow on washington journal, talking about potential spending cuts


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