Category: communism

Categories

Riga & Tallinn

Last Wednesday I came back from a nine-day return trip to the Baltics, well, just to two of the capital cities, Riga in Latvia and Tallinn in Estonia. My first trip to the region had been in 2014, and I knew that in these cities a few new sites of relevance to dark tourism had newly opened in the meantime or had changed significantly, thus warranting a re-visit.

In Riga, the

Tito

On this day, 41 years ago, on 4 May 1980, Josip Broz Tito died. He had been Yugoslavia’s socialist leader since the end of WWII. Tito famously fell out with Stalin and the Soviet Union and paved the way for the Non-Aligned Movement as a third way, taking neither the Eastern Bloc’s side nor the West’s side during the Cold War. Moreover he somehow held together a multi-ethnic Yugoslav federation, and

Stalin

On this Day: on 18 December 1878 a certain Iosep Besarionis dze Dzhugashvili was born in the Caucasus town of Gori in Georgia. This man is of course better known to the world under his self-adopted name: Stalin (meaning Man of Steel).
On my travels in the East, I’ve come across Stalin in images and statuary in various places, and so I can give you a little Stalin-themed photo essay here.

Let’s begin at the beginning, as it were, in

Dark Tourism & Cars

As decided in the latest poll, the theme of this post is ‘dark tourism and cars’. It won by two votes ahead of ‘dark tourism and clothes’, so that will be entered again in the next poll. And since several people said that their second choice (and close contender) was ‘dark tourism and spheres’ I’ll give that another chance next time too. NPPs will have to wait a little longer, but as that is one of my personal favourites it is bound to pop up at some point as well (whether in another poll or independently I can’t say yet).

But now to cars. Searching through my archives I found

30th Anniversary of German Reunification

On this day, thirty years ago, on 3 October 1990, Germany was officially reunified and the GDR (the old communist East German state) ceased to exist, just eleven months after the so-called Fall of the Berlin Wall (or, more precisely, the opening of the border crossing points, which is generally seen as the beginning of the end for the GDR). The physical Wall too was soon after mostly demolished. So it has now actually been gone longer than it had been in existence! How time flies.

30 years is of course a big anniversary and the German media are predictably full of

Dark Tourism and Bridges

This beautiful and highly iconic structure is of course the fabled Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California, USA. And what’s its dark secret? This very deadly one: it’s one of the world’s top suicide hotspots. Thousands have jumped off this bridge to end their lives, how many exactly is impossible to tell, but some 1600 bodies were recovered. Yet many others will have drifted out into the Pacific with the tide never to be found.

As a place to top oneself and simply vanish, this was an almost ideal spot. The height of the bridge, 70m above the waterline, more or less guarantees death on impact through

A Virtual Escape into the High Arctic

In the northern hemisphere we’re at the height of the summer right now, and many of us have to deal with hot temperatures and sometimes humid conditions. So I decided to provide some respite by directing today’s “virtual travel” exercise, which I think these blog posts can be seen as, far north, beyond the Arctic Circle: to Svalbard. So you can cool off a bit, in travel dreams …

I’ve only ever been north of the Arctic Circle once, namely on my summer 2012 trip to Norway, including a few days on Spitsbergen, and Murmansk in the northwesternmost part of Russia.

The Svalbard archipelago, with the main island Spitsbergen, is

"17. Juni", Ulrich Hohenhaus

17 June

This date has historical significance for various reasons. E.g. it was the day when the last public execution by guillotine took place in France, as late as in 1939. The following year the three Baltic states fell under Soviet rule; while in 1967 China detonated its first thermonuclear test device on this date. But in Germany, the date is primarily remembered for the 1953 Uprising in the GDR, especially in East Berlin, which was brutally crushed by the Soviet military, even involving tanks, and was followed by mass arrests and dozens of executions.

In East Berlin, one of the main demonstrations took place outside

Iconoclasm versus Interpretation

The photo above shows a plaque in Vienna commemorating Joseph Stalin’s short sojourn in this city as a young man. I’ve been reminded of this by the recent images on the news from the USA, where protesters are disfiguring or toppling monuments to former proponents of slavery and such like, in the wake of the unrest caused by the killing of George Floyd by police. Now, how do the topics of Stalinism and the Black Lives Matter movement go together, you may ask. Let me explain:

Make no mistake, I do understand the outrage of the protesters about the