IDEMA: The Beatles and the fall of Soviet Communism

Too often in our public rancor we hear this leader or that being called a "Hitler" or "Stalin." These name callers do not have a clue as to the amount of murder and terror caused by these two dictators.
Dec 4, 2013

If they did, they would not show their ignorance for all to see. Nothing in American history compares to the destruction and human suffering caused by these men. Stalin murdered, tortured to death, and starved as many as 22 million of his own people. Hitler also murdered millions, including six million Jews and another three million Roma (gypsies), Poles, Roman Catholics and Lutheran clergy, soldiers from the Red Army and others in his death camps.
 
So let's eliminate "Hitler" and "Stalin" from our name calling.
 
If you visit the former East Germany, especially Berlin, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary, as I did last spring, you can still see signs of the havoc brought to these societies by Nazism and Communism, especially after World War II when the Soviet Empire swallowed up these countries. Many of the gray square buildings built by the Communist governments remain as stark reminders of both the repression and the spiritual barrenness endured by the people under Soviet Communism, which was imposed upon Eastern Europe by Stalin.
 
Soviet Communism collapsed in l989 for many reasons: the blood and economic drain of the Soviet war in Afghanistan, the arms race with America, which diminished the standard of living, the ideological failures of Marxism, Soviet brutality against Christianity. One reason you may not have thought of is Western rock and roll.
 
When visiting Prague, and the palace area in particular, where we had to wait for the Czech President to leave in his black motorcade, our guide said something that struck me.  I asked her, "Under Communism, were you aware of Western music?" She said that her friends smuggled into Prague records by Western artists, especially the Beatles, which were treasured above all else.
 
She went on to say that she and her friends would huddle together in smoke-filled apartments and listen to these recordings — of course on long-playing, vinyl records (which sound much better than CDs.) She said the Beatles' music did more for the human spirit under a brutal regime, instilling hope and courage, than anything else.
 
In l989 the Soviet Empire and its brutal ideology, Communism, collapsed like a proverbial house of cards. We can not underestimate how much the liberation of the human spirit, with the help of the Beatles and other artists, had to do with the liberation of nations from Soviet Communism.
 
Soon before flying home from Warsaw, Poland, I stayed in a hotel which stood near the only remaining piece of the ghetto wall put up by the Nazis, and where so many Poles were slaughtered in the Warsaw Uprising.  I opened up the 10-foot curtains to look out at the city that had risen from the ashes of World War II, and I could not help but smile. On a 20-story building across the street was a 20-story painting of Beyonce’ with little clothing on, lit up all night long. Not exactly the music of the Beatles, but, still, a symbol of liberation in that setting and a risque' proclamation from literally the rooftops of Warsaw that Soviet Communism is dead and gone.

— By the Rev. Henry Idema, Tribune religion columnist

Comments

Monkman

Nice article, Rev. Idema. I'm going to post it on my Facebook page if it's OK with you.

- Gary K
Cleveland OH

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