Monday, January 28, 2008


The official title of this blog being somehistoricalperspective, I thought I would clue you in on an up-and-coming phenomenon in the countries of the former Soviet Union and eastern Europe: Ostalgie, or nostalgia for the "good old days" of Communism. Some people, like the Yugoslavs, understandably pine for the days of Tito, who managed to deliver on (relatively)high standards of living without preventing people from traveling or monitoring their every word. Revelers are already gathering for a pilgrimage to the Tito birthplace for the "Old Man's" 116th birthday May 25. Others, like the Lithuanians and Romanians, don't miss the Communist yoke at all, but wish to profit from it by presenting aspects of it in a clever way to the first generation of post-Soviet theme park goers. The Romanians are bringing back Vlad Dracul, in so doing making invidious comparisons with the late, great Nicolae Ceausescu, while the Lithuanians have built "the 1984 Soviet Union theme park..."

The London Daily Telegraph reports that the 1984 park offers "a journey back to the Soviet Union with KGB interrogation methods and "beatings" with a leather belt, visitors paying to be "beaten, interrogated and shouted at" by tour leaders dressed as agents of the Russian secret police, the KGB.

As a spokeswoman for the park told Reuters, "There are still many people in Lithuania who are sick with Soviet nostalgia so we've started this show to help them recover, " but it will be valuable too for the younger and foreign visitors as a history lesson.

Not to worry if you are easily excitable, as "at the conclusion of the tour, visitors receive a special certificate to honour their two hours as "Soviet citizens" and a shot of vodka, presumably to settle their nerves."

This experience seems to go a bit far in the search for authenticity, but it has plenty of irony as well as financial possibilities...entrepreneurs making $$$ off the WORST the Communist world had to offer...


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