In New English Review Dalrymple reviews Red Love: the Story of an East German Family, which illuminates the challenge of navigating the changing totalitarian regimes in 20th Century Europe during the heyday of communism:
The author conveys very well the mental contortions required to live in East Germany (or in any such regime): the mixture of belief, cynicism, indifference, calculation, compromise, wilful ignorance, opportunism, bravery, effrontery and all the many shades and interactions between them. The author does not make himself out a hero, quite the reverse: he is an ordinary, intelligent likeable person who just wants a ‘normal’ life and would prefer to live without overt political interference.
The moral reprehensibility and degradation of the regime was obvious both from the outside and in retrospect: but from within and at the time, matters were often more equivocal. Perhaps the hardest words in the book are reserved for those in the west who admired the GDR…
The BBC are broadcasting a play by James Follett called Rules of Asylum first aired in 1973 and set in a fictitious eastern bloc country. Well worth a listen. The film The Lives of others also well conveys the oppression and paranoia from those days.
Jonathan, I have only seen The Lives of Others once, but it seems like yesterday, so strong was its impression on me. I believe William F. Buckley said it was the greatest film he had ever seen.
Not sure where to post this, but I came across an Anthony Daniels article in New Criterion.
Thank you, Kevin.
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