Sean King

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Knoxville, Tennessee, United States

Monday, January 26, 2009

Iron Curtain Memories NOW that Russia has turned the heating back on, central Europe can start planning its celebrations for the twentieth anniversary of the collapse of communism. Moscow’s shadow remains long, but the region has cause for joy. Hungary is a democracy, a member of the European Union, NATO and the Schengen Zone, which allows visa free travel across the continent.

I live in Hungary, and whenever I travel to Austria I marvel at the open border. It seems incredible that just two decades ago, Hungarians could not travel, speak, or even meet freely, for fear of the secret police, imprisonment or worse. Part of me even misses the frisson of cold stares from the border guards, brusque orders to open the car boot and the delicious relief when the ink-stamp came down on passport paper and the red-striped barrier was finally lifted (although it was rather less fun for citizens of communist countries).

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