Totalitarianism in Europe: Three Case Studies

RNH Academic Director, Professor Hannes H. Gissurarson, reads a paper at a meeting of the Institute of Public Administration and Politics at the University of Iceland Thursday 26 April at 17. The meeting takes place in Haskolatorg, Room 101 (Ingjaldsstofa), and the topic is “Totalitarianism in Europe: Three Case Studies”. A monograph with this title by Professor Gissurarson has recently been published by ACRE, Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe, as a part of a joint project with RNH on “Europe of the Victims”. In the monograph, Professor Gissurarson presents his research on three cases.

The first study is about Elinor Lipper, the author of a widely discussed 1950 book about her eleven years in Soviet prison camps, of which an extract was published in Icelandic newspapers. After the publication of her book and testimonies in court and at conferences Lipper seemed to have vanished. Professor Gissurarson found out who she was and where she went.

The second study is about the intertwined fates of two Germans living in Iceland before the Second World War: Henny Goldstein was a Jewish refugee, and Bruno Kress a stipendiary of the SS institute Ahnenerbe. Goldstein lost much of her family in the Holocaust, including a brother who was murdered in an Ahnenerbe ‘experiment’. After the war, Kress became a communist, and the encounter of Goldstein and Kress at a communist meeting in Iceland in 1958 was dramatic.


The third study is about Stalin’s Icelandic apologist, Nobel Laureate Halldor K. Laxness. Professor Gissurarson describes how Laxness tried, in the 1930s, to ingratiate himself with Italian fascists in order to get his books published in Italy and how he ignored many first-hand accounts by foreign friends of the oppression in the communist countries, not to mention that he kept silent for a quarter of a century about witnessing in Moscow, during Stalin’s purges, the arrest of an innocent woman.

Political economist Dr. Dalibor Rohac  from Slovakia, at present an analyst of European affairs at AEI, American Enterprise Institute, comments on Professor Gissurarson’s paper, and afterwards, between 18 and 19, the audience is invited to a reception in Litla Torg, alongside the University cafeteria. Historian Bessi Johannsdottir will chair the meeting which forms a part of the joint project of RNH and ACRE, Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe, on “Europe of the Victims”.

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