- Vladimir Tismaneanu: Is there a moment that stands out most about 1989?
- Vladimir Tismaneanu: What forces led to change in Eastern Europe?
- Padraic Kenney: Is there one moment that stands out for you personally?
- Padraic Kenney: One crucial moment of 1989?
- Maria Bucur: Is there one moment that stands out in your experience?
- Maria Bucur: What are the crucial moments of 1989?
- Maria Bucur: How did Romanians respond in the days that followed?
- Padraic Kenney: What led to the Round Table Talks?
- Gale Stokes: What do you think led to the unrest in East Germany?
- Gale Stokes: What moment stands out for you in the events of 1989?
- Gale Stokes: Why didn’t authoritarian states succeed?
- Gale Stokes: How did East Europeans react to the arrival of pluralism?
- Gale Stokes: What images of 1989 stick in your mind?
- Gale Stokes: Why did things go so badly in Yugoslavia?
Padraic Kenney: Is there one moment that stands out for you personally?
I’m going to broaden it a little bit and think about an event in the summer of 1988. One day I went down to the center of Wroclaw to observe, take part in a so-called “happening” by the Orange Alternative. This is June 25th or 26th.
Let’s say there were maybe a couple of thousand people on the street that day. These demonstrations had been happening for a year and half roughly and so they were quite common events now. As I looked around the crowd, I could see that it was quite a cross-section of society, certainly lots of students, college students, high school students, but you know, older people, people from all walks of life. There were some speeches being given which were mostly sort of a comic edge because the Orange Alternative was kind of a satirical group. But what was interesting in this event was that the police, the militia rather, did not show up.
Now, in the past, they had and they had detained the organizers. Maybe they were somewhere off on the side, watching things, plainclothes, but they weren’t evidently there.
And the crowd began to chant: “Where are the police? Where are the police?” If we think about what that means, a whole crowd of people in Communist Poland is saying “where are the police?” Well, obviously, they’ve stopped to fear them. So, the fear is completely gone in this particular city at this particular moment. Does Communism still have any teeth left if a crowd can joyously chant “where are the police?”