Nov 29, 2012

Sponsor: Forum

Iron Curtain:

The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1945-56


Anne Applebaum
Columnist, Washington Post and Slate
Director of Political Studies, Legatum Institute

moderated by

Christopher Walker
International Forum for Democratic Studies

About the Event

In the long-awaited follow-up to her Pulitzer Prize-winning Gulag, acclaimed journalist Anne Applebaum delivered a groundbreaking history of how Communism took over Eastern Europe after World War II and transformed in frightening fashion the individuals who came under its sway. At the end of World War II, the Soviet Union to its surprise and delight found itself in control of a huge swath of territory in Eastern Europe, and Stalin and his secret police set out to convert a dozen radically different countries to Communism.

In Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1945-56, Anne Applebaum describes how the Communist regimes of Eastern Europe were created and what daily life was like once they were complete. She draws on newly opened East European archives, interviews, and personal accounts translated for the first time to portray in devastating detail the dilemmas faced by millions of individuals trying to adjust to a way of life that challenged their every belief and took away everything they had accumulated.

Today the Soviet Bloc is a lost civilization, one whose cruelty, paranoia, bizarre morality, and strange aesthetics Applebaum captures in the electrifying pages of Iron Curtain. At this event, among other questions, she discussed how studying the repressive tactics employed by the Soviets in the immediate post-War period can help to illuminate the challenges faced by civil society in countries living under today’s authoritarian regimes.

About the Speaker

Anne Applebaum is the director of political studies at the Legatum Institute. She is also a columnist for the Washington Post and Slate, and the author of several books, including Gulag: A History, which won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction as well as other awards. Since 1989, her journalism has frequently focused on the politics of transition in Russia, central Europe, and other former communist states, but she has also written extensively about British, American, and European politics and international relations. She is a former member of the Washington Post editorial board, a former deputy editor of the Spectator magazine, a former political editor of the Evening Standard, and a former Warsaw correspondent of the Economist. Her work also appears regularly in the New York Review of Books, Foreign Policy, the New Republic, the Daily Telegraph, and many other UK and US publications. She is married to Radek Sikorski, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland.