“Truth”series-”Behind Iron Curtain”-part 5
“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible but in the end, they always fall –
Think of it, ALWAYS.”
“Truth” series-”Behind Iron Curtain” part 5
(Life Under Communists)
Welcome you all who made a time to visit this part of series. Please pay attention because what I describe here is a real picture about life in socialist country under communist government and no matter what you might think, you are on the way towards it if you do not wake up soon from your notion that something like that can’t happen here. Trust me, it can and very easy, after all, you did prepare a grounds for it, although many still do not realize it.
Please be aware that this shall be about life in Czechoslovakia, country that had it really best among those being suffering countries caught in a trap. Second I would put Hungary and worst of all I would say had it Romania under that horrible tyrant Chauchescu with his slovenly, grasping wife. Russia I did mention in previous parts.
I would pick my starting point from age of 15, because that was a highly significant point in lives of growing generation – becoming citizens.
We obtained so called “citizenship passport,” which had to be carried at all times when one left the house. We could be checked at any time by police with a questions such as: “Where are you going?”, “Where do you work?”, “Why aren’t you at work today, it’s Tuesday morning, isn’t it?,” etc.etc. We were checked at the movies if we qualify for film rated age 15 up, at the times of longer hair fashion boys were often taken from the streets to police departments where they involuntary lost their tresses and received beating when resisted.
I have mentioned in chapter 4 that there wasn’t any private company in existence any more because All was nationalized and that way in government hands. So for that reason structure of newly created companies was just a same everywhere. Something like here is Postal service. (That one too, of course)
Now, in order not to leave a tiniest trace of that old, bad capitalistic system, no more company presidents as a titles have been used. New bosses were members of communist party, now named directors. Under director there were other departments and their leaders were called actually “leaders” in exact translation, but their positions were something like a management. So besides personnel, wages and similar basic departments every company had, then there were departments relevant to specific industries, obviously.
However, under director in every company there was always very special and most prominent department (of course totally unproductive, not contributing ANYTHING of slightest value to the company and quite a bit feared, but of course well paid) for which name there is no translation because it was newly created under communists, first time in history and had to do with “checking” and following behavior of every employee where one stands regarding political beliefs. If you were communist, “green light” for you. If not, which was majority, we must be careful and keep in line, keep marching and keep our opinions and thinking for ourselves. So it happened that most often the brightest and most capable workers were paid much less and had not chance for any significant promotion, or similar, as the “elite” those being “elite” only in one instance already mentioned communists.
That was very simply structured. If you were, for example, clerk in wages department, that same salary was paid everywhere in that particular dept. and that’s it. Salary itself was comprised of 4 parts. First there was a base, lets say 1500. Then second part was a plus, according to how you qualified for your position considering education. If you fulfilled requirement (high school, university, etc…) you received the whole portion, it could be for example 150 plus to add. Second part was for length of experience. If just starting, nothing there, if fulfilling required years, plus another 150 could be added, or somewhere in between. Final, third addition was “political.” No communist, no third portion. This was exactly what I always missed. And with me majority of nation. Sometimes that amount was so very needed to family, especially with more children that people simply joined. My “political” boss was coincidentally rather friendly woman saying often to me: “Why don’t you join, we need people like you and you’ll get more money.” She obviously wasn’t too great judge of character, because I was so called “right” (west) wing person (which I had to carry in my references, always) and also of strong character and conviction…so…
Still, no matter being member or not, we had a lots of meetings, (not during working hours though) where we were forced to listen leader’s self-praises and extraordinaire achievements of comm. party, although we didn’t see any. But what did we know? We were not elite and we were supposed to keep marching by directives.
Leaving any position besides totally unqualified work (usually done by retired seniors to boost skimpy income, such as washing dishes somewhere in restaurant) was extremely difficult. Depending how many years of work one had, there was set precise time when it would be possible to leave without facing consequences. It was up to six months. So how could one find new job if not being happy with work or company or simply wanted some advancement. What company would be waiting 6 months for an employee? But when someone would leave under “no matter what,” condition, this had been noted on ones personal reference list and forwarded to new company. It usually stated; “was let go for being absent,” and that no matter if one worked somewhere for 10 years without single day being absent for work. Then poor victim had very hard time to find work. So that much for having chance for advancement or promotion… That has been “reserved.”
By the way, unemployment benefits were non-existent. Everybody must work. It was up to us to find work. Also when we were checked on a streets and asked where we worked and said “temporarily nowhere,” we were taken IN to see why, when, what,etc…Simple answer “looking for work” didn’t make it.
“Check beauty of your own country and if you really want to travel, visit neighboring socialist countries.” That was it. Chance to see some other places came later, but was almost impossible go get visa anyway. At the beginning nobody could travel. But who would be interested to go somewhere where was a poverty even greater then we had. Only the sea in Bulgaria was of interest, because our location in central Europe didn’t provide that. Once in a blue moon when someone “got out” visiting “west” that person upon return (if one did return :D – that was how people never came back and became refugees) was center of attention and endless questions. (Mentioned in 1st part of series – prologue “The Border.”) We were simply like a birds in a cage.
Because there were no “Insurance Companies” in existence we all had an universal medical and dental coverage. We couldn’t pick up our own doctors or so. We “belonged” to the nearest of central clinics according to where we lived. If we moved, which happened very seldom because there was tremendous shortage of housing of any kind, then we had to switch to the nearest medical establishment. All was always centralized in one large building, from family physicians to dentists. Waiting was endless….too many people in lines…
Dental was the worst as far as work done. They saved on everything. No white fillings even on front teeth (that came much later, but never on back teeth anyway) so I saw even very young girls with dark fillings in front teeth, which was horrible, but no choice. There wasn’t private dentist to go to either, obviously. Dentures, problem. Root canals without numbing. I was actually surprised when I saw here they do it.
In a hospitals (which were really clean and all that) were usually minimum 8 plus people in one room, with no dividers whatsoever, so all knew what was going on with others when doctors came on main visit. And so on.
When I came to this country and occasionally had discussion about this topic, everybody was turning head, not believing that all stores were actually identical everywhere and had same prices. Something like it is happening here, for ex. with “Home Depot” etc… but nothing in between. So textile stores, hardware, supermarkets were the same everywhere… that is with their logos including inside choices.
Advertising was non-existent… after all, what for? There was nobody to compete with. Sales discounts were non-existent, except perhaps when there was a broken piece occasionally or so, one could get it cheaper.
I can tell you rather funny story here.
When watching TV (shortly after coming to US) we saw an ad from Sears on some linen sale that stated something like this: “Great sale only for 2 weeks, use this opportunity to save.” I said with the greatest disappointment: “How very unfortunate that we do not have money to buy it, it would be so good to save on this.” I meant it seriously, I really thought that this sale was one lifetime event and I’ve missed it. I’ve never seen sale ads like this before.
There wasn’t any choice in anything. Two brands of TV, one from Hungary, one ours. Take it or leave it. Same with only small, actually mini, refrigerators, stoves…Even when people saved some money, they had to wait in longest lines for this or that, no choice, and often just returned home not being able to buy what whey needed. Basics were lacking. People were handy, inventive, knowledgeable, talented, but no! That would be just capitalistic way. No small businesses. Nothing that couldn’t be controlled by government from A to Z.
Another story that amazed me when I lived in NYC. I walked a lot to save money, so one day during my walking on sunny day, suddenly started raining. I couldn’t believe my eyes. In no time on street corners appeared umbrella sellers. Like they would fall from the skies. And money were made :) I thought how wonderful it is to be able to open up own store, start own business, do something what one wants to do and have a chance to do it.
You know, at those times America was a “dream world” for people living in socialistic countries. It was very difficult to get any good information about life here, also propaganda was strongly negative, but still occasionally some film made it in and we could see something of what we had before WW2 and elders remembered and communists destroyed. (See part 2-3…)
FREEDOM! And we wanted it again. We wanted to pursue our dreams, utilize our talents, see the rest of the world. At night we tried to catch on radio broadcast “Free Europe” from London, where at least we could find out a little bit of what was happening in the rest of the world. Some people had relatives overseas from times after war and earlier. Many people escaped in 1968 (Czech revolution against Russia) and then was again the end of chance. In those years escaped many talented people of various professions, like Martina Navratilova and Ivan Lendl, tennists.
Although I intent to write special, comprehensive article about education (in general) I would like to mention here that there was one great thing communists gave us. Superior education. I wasn’t aware of it until I came here, what hight level of education we received.
But I also realized the real reason for it. They did it actually because they needed qualified, skilled people in order to stay self-sufficient as a country, because trade with a “West” was impossible and us seeing what was available in capitalistic countries was undesirable for them. They tried to convince us how very bad off you were…
I do not see any other explanation. Because at the end that was their downfall. I knew it all, understanding why our communism was so hated… I was always avid reader and tried to discover proof of what I thought. Many did just the same.
From Marx (Marx’s Capital was duty reading, I red it at age of 13-14.) through all history and all the rest. We new we lived something what didn’t “match.” What we were told and promised all the time wasn’t reality. But “they” insisted it will happen. “WHAT?” Yes it was happening just like it all starting here… sliding deeper and deeper in poverty and faster down the hill.
But no, I understood with my young brain that “IT” (bloody communism) couldn’t happen and shall not happen ever anywhere because idea of communism cannot be realized, EVER! (About this in next chapter.) We studied languages. We studied everything. One of our universities is second oldest in Europe after Sorbona in Paris, France. Exams to get accepted by universities were extremely difficult, but were conquered. There also was very much used preferential treatment for children of communists, but still, they must fill universities anyway. Everybody wanted to study, wanted to know, wanted to understand. And we did. And our students made revolutions. In 1968 (Russia took care of it – unfortunately) but then in 1990 we have won. Russia was deeply in debt, having huge problems of their own and than, changes happened there also in a line with dissatisfaction of suppressed lives of people, and…. Berlin Wall Fell!
Families forcefully separated (by communists) joined! People found freedom again. Freedom from Communism!
These were revolutions for Freedom.
To get out of something what was unacceptable.
I’d like to digress here for a second…I recently came across totally brain-washed via wrong direction Meghan McCain as she spoke so ridiculously and passionately for revolution. Poor girl revealed herself as a total dummy. Everybody with an ounce of knowledge of history and glimmer of understanding of events I described in my series must know the truth and hold on to what you still have left with your life. Yes, you are going where you should never ever have turned and trust this new, obviously socialists government, but hopefully you’ll see the light in time.
Although I must stress one other thing. You have lot of work to do. Because progressives are brain-washing your children. History is not taught. They are actually 2 reasons for it. One I don’t wish to mention and another is that they (socialist and communists) learned well from mistakes that happened regarding educated nation…It is very difficult to conquer. It can’t be fooled with flowery, learned speeches, following socialistic manuscripts.
We never were fooled! We were forced as a small nation by giant (Russia-their government, again, not by their people, those were biggest sufferers of all socialistic nations) but we kept together. Yes, it was easier in a sense that we were one nation and small and we ALWAYS talked politics. We were always against tyranny. And we won. So now, they kept you less and less informed, they replaced real knowledge with sexual education and similar damaging nonsense for small children who are not ripe even to understand it and neither other ridiculous things. Children do not know how to read often in high school (statistics). How could one learn then? We had to read in 1st class at age 6-7. Otherwise no 2nd grade. And that happened once in a blue moon. Mostly with a child that might got sick and missed some months of learning, so than had to repeat first grade class.
But more about education in my special issue.
You have problems now that were created by not decent, hard working Americans, but greed and hunger for power. By those who want to destroy this country and take a direction to something that was proven several times as a ultimate fiasco.
And your students know NOTHING, DO NOTHING. What a shame! And are actually active against not just you but themselves! What an irony and weirdness of it!
Hold onto your freedom, once lost it could be for good! Educate your children! Educate yourself!
With you in freedom,
- “Truth”(series) “Perfect”Idea Realized-part 2
- “Truth” (series) “The Border”- part 1-prologue
- Socialism In Humor
- Why Communism Can’t Be Realized, Ever…Part 6
- “Truth”(series)-”Toilet Paper Lines”-part 4
- “Truth”(series)The “Fingers”Theory-part 3
- Berlin Wall – 50 years
- After America There Is No Place To Go