November 7, 2013 issue
Tony Judt (1948–2010) was the founder and director of the Remarque Institute at NYU and the author of Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945, Ill Fares the Land, and The Burden of Responsibility: Blum, Camus, Aron, and the French Twentieth Century, among other books.
Captive Minds, Then and Now
Some years ago I visited Krasnogruda, the restored manor house of Czeslaw Milosz, close by the Polish–Lithuanian frontier. I was the guest of Krzysztof Czyzewski, director of the Borderland Foundation, dedicated to acknowledging the conflicted memory of this region and reconciling the local populations. It was deep midwinter and there were snow-covered fields as far as the eye could see, with just the occasional clump of ice-bound trees and posts marking the national frontiers.
July 13, 2010
I was raised on words. They tumbled off the kitchen table onto the floor where I sat: grandfather, uncles, and refugees flung Russian, Polish, Yiddish, French, and what passed for English at one another in a competitive cascade of assertion and interrogation. Sententious flotsam from the Edwardian-era Socialist Party of Great Britain hung around our kitchen promoting the True Cause. I spent long, happy hours listening to Central European autodidacts arguing deep into the night: Marxismus, Zionismus, Socialismus. Talking, it seemed to me, was the point of adult existence. I have never lost that sense.
June 17, 2010