Bovard recounts life in Soviet-era Hungary and Romania

Author James Bovard is a widely read chronicler of government stupidity and tyranny. His books include Lost Rights, Shakedown, and Freedom in Chains.

Bovard recently recounted a trip through communist-era Hungary and Romania during the 1980s. See here.

Romania was part of the Soviet bloc at the time, and its people lived in constant fear.

“Communism’s mortality toll does not capture its full horror – the daily degradation that its victims suffered,” writes Bovard.

Bovard was a westerner behind the Iron Curtain, and authorities constantly monitored him. He traveled under a ‘tourist’ visa rather than applying for a journalist’s visa–in order to avoid hassles. He was told that if he was found in possession of a map of Romania he would be arrested or denied entry. So he studied maps and tried to memorize their contents before destroying them. Bovard’s train cabin was searched 4 times by military officers with German shepherds.

“After the final search, guards bolted my cabin shut from the outside. The pseudo-luxury train had officially been transformed into a traveling jail.”

“Though Romania had been one of the world’s top grain exporters before World War One, food had become as rare as honest economist statistics.”

“Children could not get milk without a doctor’s prescription.”

“The health system was collapsing, and the infant mortality rate was so high the government refused to register children as being born until they survived their first month.”

The government prohibited distribution of contraceptives or abortions. “The government forced all women between the age of 18 and 40 to have a monthly gynecological exam to assure that no one robbed the State by having a secret abortion.”

“As I knocked around Bucharest, I assumed I was being followed. Roughly 1 in 15 Romanians was working as a government informant.”