Ways to Seize Power: A Brief Review

June 27, 2017

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 armed forces, the police, and other military elements.” 1 This is what happened—or, at least,…


High Crimes and Atrocities: Testimony

June 15, 2017
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 event or condition in order to clarify, illuminate, or prove its existence. A testimony roots…


Me, the Kremlin, and the Fall of an Empire: Moscow, 1991

June 1, 2017

In the summer of 1991, I toured the Soviet Union with a group of “student ambassadors.” Just a few months later, that entity no longer existed. The U.S.S.R. had collapsed, splintered into 15 separate states. Student Ambassadors We crossed 11 time zones over four weeks, traveling by train, bus, and plane. We went as far east as Irkutsk, Siberia, north of the Mongolian Border, to Lake Baikal, the deepest lake…


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

May 15, 2017

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 of “Manifest Destiny,” which declared it God’s will for America to expand westward to the shore…


Any Other Name

May 8, 2017
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, is within the boundaries of Ukraine. The area where my grandmother was born has been,…


Across the Forest

May 1, 2017

In the region of Transylvania, in Eastern Europe, so many structures are painted one particular shade of blue that it is widely known as Transylvania blue.

My family, particularly my grandmother, her siblings, and her predecessors, come from areas within and neighboring what we know as Transylvania.



My Great Uncle Stefan
My Great Uncle Stefan

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