Historical Witness Videos

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Alexandru Bicu - Long

A Romanian musician with a knack for avoiding authoritarian attention, Alex patiently sought his emigration to the US. Decades later as an LAPD officer he voiced his allegations of police corruption resulting in concession and reform.

 

A Romanian musician with a knack for avoiding authoritarian attention, Alex patiently sought his emigration to the US. Decades later as an LAPD officer he voiced his allegations of police corruption resulting in concession and reform.


Angela Thompson

Dr. Angela Thompson tells the story of her escape from the Dresden bombing. She describes the overwhelming heat of the city center and growing food in the countryside as the war continued. She's the author of a memoir BLACKOUT, and serves on the board of advisors for The Wende Museum.

Dr. Angela Thompson tells the story of her escape from the Dresden bombing. She describes the overwhelming heat of the city center and growing food in the countryside as the war continued. She's the author of a memoir BLACKOUT, and serves on the council of advisors for the Wende Museum.


Antje Arnold

Born and raised in East Germany, Antje describes an unusual school day on the morning after the Berlin Wall fell. She describes the frustration of her generation having to 'catch-up' with Western entertainment references. The daughter of an East German policeman, she is the author of "The Girl Behind the Wall" memoir series.

Born and raised in East Germany, Antje describes an unusual school day on the morning after the Berlin Wall fell. She describes the frustration of her generation having to ‘catch-up’ with Western entertainment references. The daughter of an East German policeman, she is the author of The Girl Behind the Wall memoir series.


Bill Stern

Director of California Museum of Design, the late Bill Stern, American, described his early interest Russian language and culture. He later had an opportunity visit Moscow while working as a Warner Brothers liaison and translator on a joint Soviet/American film production.

Director of California Museum of Design, the late Bill Stern, American, described his early interest Russian language and culture. He later had an opportunity visit Moscow while working as a Warner Brothers liaison and translator on a joint Soviet/American film production.


Boris Gorbis

Boris Gorbis was born in Odessa in 1950, in a city recovering from German occupation. He was the of the first generation of 'Emancipated Jews.' He grew up devoid of Jewish traditions in the Soviet Union in a communal apartment, and only later discovered his rich heritage and expressed a desire to emigrate.

Boris Gorbis was born in Odessa in 1950, in a city recovering from German occupation. He was the of the first generation of 'Emancipated Jews.' He grew up devoid of Jewish traditions in the Soviet Union in a communal apartment, and only later discovered his rich heritage and expressed a desire to emigrate.


Christa Jeitner

Renowned textile and installation artist Christa Jeitner describes her rural upbringing in Post WWII Germany. A prodigious talent, 26 year old Christa was attending art school in West Berlin when the wall went up in 1961. She chose to return to the East.

Renowned textile and installation artist Christa Jeitner describes her rural upbringing in Post WWII Germany. A prodigious talent, 26 year old Christa was attending art school in West Berlin when the wall went up in 1961. She chose to return to the East. Christa was one of the first artists to have her work exhibited outside of the DDR.


Csilla Macsari - Long

Born in Budapest, Csilla's mother was an outspoken anti-communist. As such she had to live a double life, and showed a knack for languages. She unknowingly signed up for a two year language and tactical course toward a career in state espionage. She, however, refused to report to work afterward and had to reimburse her educational costs.

Born in Budapest, Csilla's mother was an outspoken anti-communist. As such she had to live a double life, and showed a knack for languages. She unknowingly signed up for a two year language and tactical course toward a career in state espionage. She, however, refused to report to work afterward and had to reimburse her educational costs. "I'm not duplicitous by nature."


Edward Goldman

Born in Leningrad/St.Petersburg, Edward was exposed to translations of western literature. He describes his moral decision between joining the communist party and pursuing the often fraught process of emigration for a Russian Jew.

Born in Leningrad/St.Petersburg, Edward was exposed to translations of western literature. He describes his moral decision between joining the communist party and pursuing the often fraught process of emigration for a Russian Jew.


Erika McMahon

Erika grew up in Hungary during the war. She describes extreme shortages of food and goods in Budapest. Her father left in 1949, but Erika and her mother were denied an exit Visa. After the 1956 revolution her mother took Erika and her sister to the Austrian border with only a change of clothes.

Erika grew up in Hungary during the war. She describes extreme shortages of food and goods in Budapest. Her father left in 1949, but Erika and her mother were denied an exit Visa. After the 1956 revolution her mother took Erika and her sister to the Austrian border with only a change of clothes. They walked across a frozen border-field in December to their freedom, and migrated to the U.S.


Eugene Alper

Eugene Alper, Actor, born in 1960 in Odessa, Ukraine (USSR at the time.) He describes living in a closed society, and how government ownership and social control incentivizes compliance over mastery. Meeting basic needs was in the foreground of most people's experience.

Eugene Alper, Actor, born in 1960 in Odessa, Ukraine (USSR at the time.) He describes living in a closed society, and how government ownership and social control incentivizes compliance over mastery. Meeting basic needs was in the foreground of most people's experience.


Gabriele Stötzer

An artist, writer and activist, Gabriele describes her introduction to the creative community in Jena in the 1970s, and the time she and others laid siege to a regional Stasi HQ in 1990.

An artist, writer and activist, Gabriele describes her introduction to the creative community in Jena in the 1970s, and the time she and others laid siege to a regional Stasi HQ in 1990.


George Berci

Our most senior historical Witness, Dr. George Berci was born in Hungary in 1921. After time in one of Eichmann's labor camps he endured the rest of the war in the Budapest Jewish ghetto. George recounts serving in a hospital during the 1956 uprising and receiving over 100 patients with gunshot wounds.

Our most senior historical Witness, Dr. George Berci was born in Hungary in 1921. After time in one of Eichmann's labor camps he endured the rest of the war in the Budapest Jewish ghetto. George recounts serving in a hospital during the 1956 uprising and receiving over 100 patients with gunshot wounds. He emigrated to Austria and was the recipient of a Rockefeller Grant.


George Woelcken

Berliner George Woelcken recounts getting encouragement from the Führer himself before the Russian invasion in 1945. His postwar experience includes the Worker's Uprising in 1953, emigration to America, and service as a paratrooper with the US Army stationed back in his native Germany.

Berliner George Woelcken recounts getting encouragement from the Führer himself before the Russian invasion in 1945. His postwar experience includes the Worker's Uprising in 1953, emigration to America, and service as a paratrooper with the US Army stationed back in his native Germany.


Gregor Zupanc

Gregor grew up in Yugoslavia, or Serbia to be more precise. His father was a filmmaker and enjoyed privileges given to the intellectual class. After the Communists fell, a general lawlessness prevailed forcing Gregor to join a gang for protection.

Gregor grew up in Yugoslavia, or Serbia to be more precise. His father was a filmmaker and enjoyed privileges given to the intellectual class. After the Communists fell, a general lawlessness prevailed forcing Gregor to join a gang for protection.


Helen Szablya

The daughter of a successful pharmaceutical doctor, Helen and her family survived the Siege of Budapest by the Soviets, and endured yet another autocracy. She witnessed firsthand the 1956 Revolution and relates the cruel reprisals of the Soviet occupiers, and her compelling escape from Hungary.

The daughter of a successful pharmaceutical doctor, Helen and her family survived the Siege of Budapest by the Soviets, and endured yet another autocracy. She witnessed firsthand the 1956 Revolution and relates the cruel reprisals of the Soviet occupiers, and her compelling escape from Hungary.


Helena Luczywo - Long

Helen describes the evolution of Solidarity from a student revolt to workers union. She tells of the challenge of publishing under martial law. She worked alongside the likes of Jacek Kuron, and Adam Michnik and edited the widely underground distributed 'Tygodnik Solidarnosc,' and later Gazeta Wyborcza - the first post communist newspaper in Poland.

Helen describes the evolution of Solidarity from a student revolt to workers union. She tells of the challenge of publishing under martial law. She worked alongside the likes of Jacek Kuron, and Adam Michnik and edited the widely underground distributed 'Tygodnik Solidarnosc,' and later Gazeta Wyborcza - the first post-communist newspaper in Poland.


Holger Claus

A civil engineer born near Jena, East Germany in 1960, Holger Claus settled in Berlin in 1987 just in time for the Wende. After working in Munich he emigrated to the US 1997. Holger reveals the social benefits of life under communism, and how the system couldn't financially sustain it.

A civil engineer born near Jena, East Germany in 1960, Holger Claus settled in Berlin in 1987 just in time for the Wende. After working in Munich he emigrated to the US 1997. Holger reveals the social benefits of life under communism, and how the system couldn't financially sustain it. He talks about "BittenRede"- a form of satire - that drew the attention of the Stasi. He reveals a German bias against those from the former East that he's never experienced in the US.


Ilya Umanskiy

Security expert Ilya Umanskiy had a Soviet childhood as the son of a Jewish merchant. The allure of a market economy and limitations of Soviet style authoritarianism led to his emigration to the US at a young age, where he found his work ethic gave him a distinct advantage.

Security expert Ilya Umanskiy had a Soviet childhood as the son of a Jewish merchant. The allure of a market economy and limitations of Soviet style authoritarianism led to his emigration to the US at a young age, where he found his work ethic gave him a distinct advantage.


Inna Faliks

Pianist and UCLA professor, Inna Faliks was born in Ukrainian port city of Odessa in 1978. She describes a recital in Rome as a ten year old as her family emigrated from USSR. She later reconnected with and married her childhood friend Michael Shpigelmacher, another Odessa emigré and historical witness.

Pianist and UCLA professor, Inna Faliks was born in Ukrainian port city of Odessa in 1978. She describes a recital in Rome as a ten year old as her family emigrated from USSR. She later reconnected with and married her childhood friend Michael Shpigelmacher, another Odessa emigré and historical witness.


Jack Barsky

Jack grew up in East Germany in what he calls 'The Valley of the Clueless' - an area void of Western television and radio signals. Later in college he was recruited by the KGB to train and serve as an "illegal" clandestine agent in the US.

Jack grew up in East Germany in what he calls ‘The Valley of the Clueless’ – an area void of Western television and radio signals. Later in college he was recruited by the KGB to train and serve as an "illegal" clandestine agent in the US. He describes a double life and his residual German identity.


Judith Hoffman

Judith was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1941. At the age of three she and her family in were sent to the Jewish ghetto where her mother died during a Soviet bombing the following year. She describes Hungary's corrupt 'Goulash-Communism,' and how her family balanced state compliance and a discrete observance of Jewish beliefs and traditions.

Judith was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1941. At the age of three she and her family in were sent to the Jewish ghetto where her mother died during a Soviet bombing the following year. She describes Hungary's corrupt 'Goulash-Communism,' and how her family balanced state compliance and a discrete observance of Jewish beliefs and traditions. She witnessed an iconic 1956 event where student activists dragged a Lenin statue through town. Working from the age of 16, Judith clarifies that life under communism was definitely not a 'worker's paradise.' It was a "communist dictatorship."


Judith Tanka

Judith was born in Budapest, Hungary. Growing up in the 9050s, she describes her Aunt's privileges as a communist party member - with access to travel and western goods. She remembers how any religious activity was viewed as 'wrong.' At age six her family sheltered in the basement while the Soviet tanks rolled into Budapest in 1956.

Judith was born in Budapest, Hungary. Growing up in the 9050s, she describes her Aunt's privileges as a communist party member - with access to travel and western goods. She remembers how any religious activity was viewed as 'wrong.' At age six her family sheltered in the basement while the Soviet tanks rolled into Budapest in 1956. She shares how the Right is barely below the surface in modern Hungary.


Katya Kompaneyets

Born in Moscow in the late 40s, Katya remained there until she emigrated to the US in 1981. It was her father's profession- a nuclear physicist - that helped her family avoid Stalin's pogroms. Raised in a privileged family of Jewish dissidents, emigration to Isreal was an attractive option.

Born in Moscow in the late 40s, Katya remained there until she emigrated to the US in 1981. It was her father's profession- a nuclear physicist - that helped her family avoid Stalin's pogroms. Raised in a privileged family of Jewish dissidents, emigration to Isreal was an attractive option.


Leon Weinstein

Writer, director, producer and artist agent Leon Weinstein was born in Leningrad/St. Petersburg in 1949 to a physician and language teacher. He describes his initial excitement that Russian Jews could emigrate to Israel. After barely evading the 1973 Yom Kippur War as an officer in the Israeli Defense Forces, he migrated to the U.S.

Writer, director, producer and artist agent Leon Weinstein was born in Leningrad/St. Petersburg in 1949 to a physician and language teacher. He describes his initial excitement that Russian Jews could emigrate to Israel. After barely evading the 1973 Yom Kippur War as an officer in the Israeli Defense Forces, he migrated to the U.S. He cites the value of incentive and offers several examples.


Lex Anselm

Lex described his childhood in Kazakhstan, and riding cross country skis to school. All the while, the Soviets were testing nuclear weapons underground less than 200 miles away. He misses the community of helpful neighbors during his Soviet experience.

Lex described his childhood in Kazakhstan, and riding cross country skis to school. All the while, the Soviets were testing nuclear weapons underground less than 200 miles away. He misses the community of helpful neighbors during his Soviet experience.


Matthias Freihof

As an actor working on productions in the West, Matthias had opportunities to escape East Germany, but he felt a duty to his country and people. He tells the story of the premiere of his film Coming Out - interrupted by the fall of the Berlin Wall.

As an actor working on productions in the West, Matthias had opportunities to escape East Germany, but he felt a duty to his country and people. He tells the story of the premiere of his film Coming Out - interrupted by the fall of the Berlin Wall.


Michael Shpigelmacher

Michael, a scientist and entrepreneur, was born on the latter side of the Cold War in Odessa, Ukraine. His father was a zionist and so-called 'Refusenik' who's initial request to emigrate was denied in 1970. He and his family ultimately emigrated to Israel in 1989, where he served 10 years in the Isreali Defense Forces before migrating to the US.

Michael, a scientist and entrepreneur, was born on the latter side of the Cold War in Odessa, Ukraine. His father was a zionist and so-called 'Refusenik' who's initial request to emigrate was denied in 1970. He and his family ultimately emigrated to Israel in 1989, where he served 10 years in the Isreali Defense Forces before migrating to the US. He clarifies that communist nostalgia hovers around predictability and order, rather than the precepts, ideology and practice.


Pat Montandon

Writer, socialite, Nobel Peace prize nominee, and a strong children's advocate, Pat tells of her child letter campaigns to the Soviet Union and later, her trips to Russia to provide assistance after the 2004 school massacre at Beslan. In 2018 Pat rebranded her organization, now called Peace To The Planet, providing kids a platform to stop gun violence and fight global warming.

Writer, socialite, Nobel Peace prize nominee, and a strong children's advocate, Pat tells of her child letter campaigns to the Soviet Union and later, her trips to Russia to provide assistance after the 2004 school massacre at Beslan. In 2018 Pat rebranded her organization, now called Peace To The Planet, providing kids a platform to stop gun violence and fight global warming.


Peter Barna

The son of a shoemaker, Peter describes the political shifts in Hungary following the Nazi withdrawal until the Soviet crackdown in Budapest in 1956 where he was attacked with Soviet gunfire. He relates his early work experience in aircraft production in a factory owned by a Mr. Rubik - future inventor of the Rubik's Cube, and his escape to Austria.

The son of a shoemaker, Peter describes the political shifts in Hungary following the Nazi withdrawal until the Soviet crackdown in Budapest in 1956 where he was attacked with Soviet gunfire. He relates his early work experience in aircraft production in a factory owned by a Mr. Rubik - future inventor of the Rubik's Cube, and his escape to Austria.


Ramona Reed

Dean Read was an American musician, activist, humanitarian, and pop icon in... East Germany. His daughter Ramona describes her visits and correspondence with her father also known as the Red Elvis. She shares some of his unproduced music, and a final confrontation she had at the border with East Germans.

Dean Read was an American musician, activist, humanitarian, and pop icon in... East Germany. His daughter Ramona describes her visits and correspondence with her father also known as the Red Elvis. She shares some of his unproduced music, and a final confrontation she had at the border with East Germans.


Sasha Kerbel

The daughter of a successful realist sculptor Lev Kerbel, Sasha could see first hand her father's support and conflict within the Soviet system. She describes meeting Fidel Castro as a child, the arrest of Gorbachev, and the excitement of Russia's political transition.

The daughter of a successful realist sculptor Lev Kerbel, Sasha could see first hand her father's support and conflict within the Soviet system. She describes meeting Fidel Castro as a child, the arrest of Gorbachev, and the excitement of Russia's political transition.


Sergei Belyakov

Sergei grew up on Soviet military installations, and pursued a soviet education and career in science. He describes his time as a Chernobyl 'Liquidator,' where as a young officer he helped in the clean-up effort from the massive radioactive spill. He currently continues his biological research in Singapore.

Sergei grew up on Soviet military installations and pursued a soviet education and career in science. He describes his time as a Chernobyl 'Liquidator,' whereas a young officer he helped in the clean-up effort from the massive radioactive spill. He currently continues his biological research in Singapore.


Susan Brown

Born in Budapest in 1947, Susan's father was a chemist and a true believer in Communism. Her mother, a camp survivor, remained skeptical. On trumped up charges, both were accused of being 'enemies of the state' and endured the Soviet satellite country's 'Show Trials' in 1949 and sentenced to ten years in prison afterward.

Born in Budapest in 1947, Susan's father was a chemist and a true believer in Communism. Her mother, a camp survivor, remained skeptical. On trumped up charges, both were accused of being 'enemies of the state' and endured the Soviet satellite country's 'Show Trials' in 1949 and sentenced to ten years in prison afterward. Her father wrote a memoir about this traumatic experience. They emigrated to the West in 1969.


Tomas Osinski

Artist and architect Tomas was born in Poland in 1951. He assisted the Solidarity movement in a print shop before escaping Warsaw before the crackdown of martial law. Tomas describes the 'lack of color' in rural Poland in contrast to a vivid and warm Gypsy settlement that changed his life.

Artist and architect Tomas was born in Poland in 1951. He assisted the Solidarity movement in a print shop before escaping Warsaw before the crackdown of martial law. Tomas describes the 'lack of color' in rural Poland in contrast to a vivid and warm Gypsy settlement that changed his life.


Vivian Glade

Vivian grew up in East Germany in 1974, the grand daughter of an American GI. Her mother was a dissident jazz singer who was part of a scene including Wolf Bierman and others, before being taken to prison. Vivian experienced racism in the DDR, but not in the church.

Vivian grew up in East Germany in 1974, the grand daughter of an American GI. Her mother was a dissident jazz singer who was part of a scene including Wolf Bierman and others, before being taken to prison. Vivian experienced racism in the DDR, but not in the church. When the wall came down in 1989 Vivian left Magdeburg for the West - Bremerhaven with her mother. "I learned from her not to be a victim."


Vladimir Paperny

Author of 'Architecture in the Age of Stalin,' Vladimir emigrated to the US just as his critically acclaimed work began to cause a stir in the Soviet hierarchy. Now a widely published architectural theorist, Vladimir is an adjunct professor at UCLA.

Author of 'Architecture in the Age of Stalin,' Vladimir emigrated to the US just as his critically acclaimed work began to cause a stir in the Soviet hierarchy. Now a widely published architectural theorist, Vladimir is an adjunct professor at UCLA.


Witold Radwanski

Warsaw businessman Witold Radwanski tells of his work assisting the Solidarity underground movement in 1980s Poland. The peaceful overthrow of communist authoritarianism was the result of generations of Polish clandestine activity.

Warsaw businessman Witold Radwanski tells of his work assisting the Solidarity underground movement in 1980s Poland. The peaceful overthrow of communist authoritarianism was the result of generations of Polish clandestine activity.


Wlodzimierz Grudzinski

After witnessing his older sister's arrest by the Polish security forces, Wlodzimierz was committed to the cause of solidarity. A mathematician student, he took on a variety of responsibilities, also citing exposure to his previous generations valuable knowledge of working underground.

After witnessing his older sister's arrest by the Polish security forces, Wlodzimierz was committed to the cause of solidarity. A mathematician student, he took on a variety of responsibilities, also citing exposure to his previous generations valuable knowledge of working underground.