ASSAULT AND SURVIVAL ACROSS THE FORESTS OF WWII EUROPE

Czechoslovakia

Dedicated to Toronto

Moments ago, I was about to sit down to write another installment about my trip to Toronto in February. But first, I checked the news. Only a few hours ago, a white van jumped the curb and struck a number of pedestrians near Yonge and Finch, in north Toronto. They don’t know yet how many…

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“Truth Prevails” and Other Exotic Ideals

My great uncle Stefan Moldovan was born into nascent Czechoslovakia, a democracy founded on high ideals by a leader, T.G. Masaryk, known for his integrity, intelligence, and ethics. His country’s motto, “Truth Prevails,” reveals much about his aspirations for his nation and humanity as a whole. Meanwhile in Pittsburgh Two agreements key to the formation…

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The Czechoslovakian Dream: An Island of Democracy, 1918-1938

I suppose most of us associate Czechoslovakia with phrases like Eastern Block and Iron Curtain. But in reality, the country was conceived in the name of liberty. For two decades between the world wars, it was a democracy. President Masaryk was known as the “president liberator.” Here’s a newsreel from 1933 in which Czechoslovakia celebrates…

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Charlottesville, WWII Hungary, and the Eruption of Hate

Photo by veeterzy on Unsplash

Right now, many of us are in shock, outraged, furious. How could an event like yesterday’s Neo-Nazi, white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, VA happen? It’s the 21st century. Aren’t we beyond this? Hasn’t humanity evolved, learned from past suffering and atrocities? And behind that anger and disbelief is pain–pain that is hundreds, if not thousands…

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Ways to Seize Power: A Brief Review

How many ways can a leader or a regime wrest control from a government or a people? Following are three examples from history. Overthrown Coup, short for Coup d’état, is “the sudden, violent overthrow of an existing government by a small group. The chief prerequisite for a coup is control of all or part of the…

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High Crimes and Atrocities: Testimony

My Uncle Steve (Stefan) with his parents, Rosa and Moritz (my great grandarents), before the Holocaust

JUNE 15, 2017: As the nation investigates an elaborate corruption that has ties to its highest offices, the term testimony has been broadcast far and wide—in print, over wires and airwaves, and in countless individual conversations. A testimony is a story in one’s own words, a formal telling of one’s experience, a public account of an…

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“I Am,” I Said: Thoughts on Borders and Refugees

Shifting Borders When I read about the history of Eastern Europe, I realize how changeable national boundaries and concepts of nation are. I live in a very young country, America, which nevertheless has been highly successful in forming a self-concept that seems essential and timeless. Its sense of surety likely is rooted in the concept…

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Any Other Name

My grandmother, my brother, and me

A Temporary Peace My grandmother was an immigrant from Eastern Europe. She was born in 1910 in the town of Svalava, which was part of the Kingdom of Hungary at the time but joined Czechoslovakia in 1920 by decree of the Treaty of Trianon, which ended WWI. Now, the town, with no remaining Jewish population,…

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