Tag Archives: Communism

19 August: Shared Meal XV: A Powerful Picnic.

 

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It’s Saturday, it’s summertime in Europe, it’s a good day for a picnic.

A very good day for a picnic. On this day in 1989 there occurred a mass picnic on the border between the then communist Hungary and democratic Austria. It became known as the Pan-European picnic because the two neighbours agreed to open their borders, allowing citizens of Western and Communist nations to cross borders and mingle without let or hindrance.

Many East Germans took advantage of the open border to leave for West Germany as the border between Hungary and Austria remained open.

Within a few months the Iron Curtain, as it was known, no longer cut Germany in half; many other nations also fulfilled their citizens desire to leave the communist bloc.

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It wasn’t all because of the picnic, but that helped maintain momentum for change, thanks to politicians in Austria, Germany and Hungary, and to many brave, ordinary people.

It won’t take a great deal of bravery to hold a picnic for your family today, or just to share fish and chips or a pizza by the sea. But spare a thought and prayer for those brave souls who died trying to cross borders to the West; for the brave souls whose actions made a freer Europe possible, and for those brave souls who still try to cross borders as refugees or migrants.

And as you enjoy your picnic, thank God for the freedom to do so.

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Preserved stretch of the Berlin Wall, MMB

World Youth Day Pilgrims about to enjoy a picnic in the Tatra Mountains, Zakopane, Poland. MMB

 Picnic monument by Kaboldy

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23 February: Detective Stories for a Post-Truth Age

We are told that we are living in a ‘post-truth age’. The President of the United States has his staff put out alternative facts – or lies – when the verifiable truth is uncomfortable. Climate change is a conspiracy theory. The Muslims (en masse) are out to get us. A referendum is held, lies are told, 37% of people vote to leave the EU – but the people have spoken, although those living overseas could not vote, any more than Scots living in England were able to vote in the Scottish Independence Referendum.

1968, Czechoslovakia. The half-million strong, Russian-led Warsaw pact armies invaded to put down the Prague Spring. 18 months ago we briefly remembered that event and the Velvet Revolution that followed, before 1968 was forgotten, bringing freedom to millions. Click on  Wenceslas .

1968 – 1989 was an era of post-truth in Czechoslovakia following the “Entry of the Fraternal Armies Rendering Brotherly Help to the Czechs and Slovaks”. Jews are Zionists who want to turn the clock back and have no regard for the historical role of the working class. It is a crime to leave the country: if you do so, your family will suffer. A professor may find himself swinging a pickaxe for revisionist crimes. Others might be executed as political criminals. A policeman almost imperceptibly sinks into the grey, sad world of a class warfare he has never really believed in. Crimes his team have solved go unpunished because they are committed by people with connections.

I had never read any of Josef Skvorecky’s books till I picked up The End of Lieutenant Boruvka in a charity shop. I will be seeking out more of them. The short stories flow gently on, leading us into ever greater collusion with evil, crises of conscience sliding past as dear ones are protected, blackmail is applied.

Is there redemption? It often looks bleak for Lieutenant Boruvka, who is often hemmed in, with little choice over what to do with the results of his investigations. Find this book and read it, and pray for perseverance in seeking out and telling the truth, and in forming and following your conscience.

MMB.

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24th April 2016: The best laid plans

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I looked at my watch, just 6.15 am. I rose drowsily from my bed. My brain was telling me I had some important things to do. The jet engines on the test beds were roaring. I went to the briefing room where we were informed by a very smart young Flight Lieutenant that we would be taking off at 7.30 am to carry out practice interceptions with an American squadron under the direction of an American Flight Controller. I would be flying with a very experienced, rather aristocratic, Polish pilot, Zak Jublonski with whom I had got on pretty well since I joined this unit six weeks before.

This attempt to turn me into an air navigator was an interesting change which I welcomed after spending the previous twelve months as an education officer at a recruit training centre on the Welsh Border. Although earlier in my service career I had resisted attempts to turn me into a flyer, notwithstanding blandishments about promotion and more money. So far everything had gone quite well and I relished being treated with the respect a flyer gets, albeit only an embryo one. We went for a very light breakfast, then for a medical and a check to ensure we had not broken the ban on alcohol from yesterday lunchtime.

This was my sixth training flight and I had passed all my air tests so far and was doing pretty well on my navigation theory which I enjoyed.

Zak and I strolled out to inspect our Meteor night fighter NF11. These were quite old aircraft and were due to be replaced soon. I knew that Zak would inspect everything very thoroughly.

A flight sergeant appeared and handed Zak a file. ‘All present and correct Sir. But she’s not armed up.’

‘No ammunition or no staff?’ Quipped Zak.

‘Well as a matter of fact it’s both Sir.’

‘I think the C/O must keep the ammunition locked up in his desk’, said Zak.

I recalled his words the last time we flew a proper patrol: ‘Remember it costs £623 8.6 when you fire a ten second burst to clear your guns’.

‘What are we fighter pilots or accountants?’

DBP

“Gloster Meteor NF.14 WS841 264.HMT BLA 6.9.55 edited-2” by RuthAS – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gloster_Meteor_NF.14_WS841_264.HMT_BLA_6.9.55_edited-2.jpg#/media/File:Gloster_Meteor_NF.14_WS841_264.HMT_BLA_6.9.55_edited-2.jpg

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Good King Wenceslas

28th September     Saint Wenceslas

How on earth does a King become a Saint? It seems to me the least likely position from which a man might attain salvation, which probably says more about me than about Wenceslas, whose equestrian statue appears in so many photographs of the Prague Spring and the Velvet Revolution that eventually brought down the Communist Regime in 1989 -1990.

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By Lklundin (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

W. S. Gilbert wrote of kingship:

The culminating pleasure,

Which we treasure beyond measure,

Is the sense of satisfaction that our duty has been done.

With his statue the focus for demonstrations large and small, Wenceslas seems to have been doing his duty by his people centuries after his death. Perhaps this bears out the prophecy that he would return to lead his people in their hour of greatest need. Though Wenceslas spent much of his life fighting, his people in the 20th Century worked peacefully together and freed their country from Soviet oppression.

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