The USSR Won

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Writes Jim Fedako: “Olympics: If you are going to count medals based on the Cold War, then you have to total all the medals from the former Soviet republics: 170 Olympic medals.

“Meeting the enemy: I was lucky enough to have traveled to East Germany in 1982 with neighbors — the husband was a professor at Carnegie Mellon. One event we attended was a wedding held at a hotel near Weimar. Like any good teenager, I soon left the after-party and searched the hotel. On one floor, in a pseudo lobby just off the elevator, I met some young Russian workers (in their 20’s) and we struck up a very pleasant conversation in world-speak (a combination of English, Russian, German, body language, and smiles).

“What I learned was that Russian citizens were just like everyone else I knew of a similar age. They particularly liked the Beatles and asked if I would send them an album. They gave me their address, but since I had just read Gulag Archipelago, I was too fearful of their safety to send one over upon my return to the states.

“After meeting the enemy, it a small wonder that I registered as a conscientious objector so as not to have to fight (as it appeared likely at the time) peasant farmers in Central America in the name of superpower aggression.

“Note: I do have to say that East Germany seemed gray and tired. We spent six hours at the board crossing and I was able to look around at the buildings, installations, etc. Despite the guns, soldiers, etc., I do not believe that anyone there saw me as a threat. Though they saw their own citizens as threats. Even the party faithful seemed to not believe what they were saying — they simply repeated the party line, no matter how absurd.”

4:37 pm on August 24, 2008