Witnessing the Collapse of Communism

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This year marks the 30th anniversary of the end of communist states in Eastern Europe. To commemorate this defining historical event, Matthais Neumann, the new president of the British Association for Slavonic & East European Studies and past SRB Podcast guest gave me the recording of a roundtable he moderated “Witnessing the Collapse of Communism in Central and Eastern Europe and the disintegration of the Soviet Union” from the BASEES conference in April.

The panel’s participants include:

Timothy Garton Ash is the author of ten books that have charted the transformation of Europe over the last half century. He is Professor of European Studies in the University of Oxford, Isaiah Berlin Professorial Fellow at St Antony’s College, Oxford, and a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. His essays appear regularly in the New York Review of Books and he writes a column on international affairs in the Guardian. His book The Magic Lantern which documented the collapse of communism in East Europe has been translated into fifteen languages. A new edition of The Magic Lantern with a new postscript will be published this fall.

Bridget Kendall joined the BBC in 1983 and has since become one of the Corporation’s most respected international correspondents, with 30 years of experience of reporting from the field. She served as BBC Moscow correspondent and BBC Washington correspondent. Since 1998 she has held the senior role of BBC Diplomatic correspondent, reporting on and analyzing major global crises and conflicts, and their impact on Britain and the world.

Jens Reich was born in Göttingen in 1939. A molecular biologist and essayist, he was one of the key figures in the civil rights movement of the GDR in the 80s. In September 1989 he was one of the signatories of the paper calling for the establishment of the “Neues Forum” grassroots movement whose activities led to the overthrow of the communist regime in East Germany and eventually to the fall of the Berlin Wall. In 1990, as leading candidate of “Neues Forum”, he was elected to the People’s Chamber of the GDR. After reunification, he returned to his academic career as molecular geneticist at the Max-DelbrĂĽck-Centre in Berlin, remaining politically active.