Baltic states

The Eagle Unbowed: Poland and the Poles in the Second World War By Halik Kochanski (Harvard University Press, 734 pp., $35) The Auschwitz Volunteer: Beyond Bravery By Witold Pilecki translated by Jarek Garliński (Aquila Polonica, 460 pp., $34.95)   ONCE, THE Allied history of the Second World War—the Anglo-American history of the Second World War, the Victors’ history of the Second World War—was the only one we thought mattered.

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Emissary of the Doomed: Bargaining For Lives in the Holocaust by Ronald Florence (Viking, 336 pp., $27.95)  I. March 18, 1944 was an unusually pleasant spring day in Budapest, with crowds filling the outdoor cafés: it was difficult to tell that Hungary was at war. Rumors were spread about the government’s secret negotiations with the Western Allies, and all surmised that an unspoken agreement existed according to which the Hungarians would not fire on American and British aircraft overflying the country and the enemy aircraft would not drop any bombs.

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Emissary of the Doomed: Bargaining For Lives in the Holocaust by Ronald Florence (Viking, 336 pp., $27.95)  I. March 18, 1944 was an unusually pleasant spring day in Budapest, with crowds filling the outdoor cafés: it was difficult to tell that Hungary was at war. Rumors were spread about the government’s secret negotiations with the Western Allies, and all surmised that an unspoken agreement existed according to which the Hungarians would not fire on American and British aircraft overflying the country and the enemy aircraft would not drop any bombs.

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Officially, the only news coming out of Dubai on Sunday was that the central bank of the United Arab Emirates, the seven-state federation of which Dubai is a part, will extend ample credit to banks in Dubai. That should avert a series of runs now that it's pretty clear Dubai's banks have piles of bad loans sitting on their balance sheets.    But, of course, no one's *that* interested in the local financial sector in Dubai (spectacular though its collapse may be).

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Building Blocs

Monday marks the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It is worth pausing to recall just how momentous, and unanticipated, this event and those that followed were. My students today have no memory of the cold war; to them, Prague and Budapest, just like Paris and Madrid, are simply places to visit or study in Europe.

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While a few foreign policy watchers were sounding the alarm about the Caucasus months in advance, Russia's invasion of Georgia sent most of the public and the commentariat running to their world maps. To avoid a repeat, we should probably keep an eye on the next likely flashpoint: Ukraine. The IHT has an update on developments there, which turn on the status of Russia's naval base in Crimea: Ukraine, bigger than France and traditionally seen by Russians as integral to their heritage and dominion, has been conspicuously quiet over the past week.

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The Russian Resolution

As we write, the first news of the apparent collapse of the Moscow coup of August 19 has arrived. We still cannot know how this extraordinary and rattling event will play out in the next few days; who its beneficiaries will be; who, among the military, the KGB, and the Party apparatus, will emerge as the central conspirators. What we do know, however, is that, like a bee that stings one last time before it expires, this putsch is the final spasm of a system that is coming steadily (or, rather, unsteadily) closer to extinction.

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The Telltale Scar

Budapest—On the banks of the Danube, it is quite natural to ask whether the idea of Central Europe has been just a whim of a few intellectuals, or acquires now a new significance thanks to the aspirations for democracy that have been reawakened in many countries. The simple fact is that our perspective, whether we are Poles or Hungarians or Yugoslavs, is different from the perspective of Western Europeans, Russians, or Americans.

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The Empire Breaks Up

Gorbachev’s nationality crisis.

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