Andrew Nagorski

Stories by Andrew Nagorski

  • The Paint Attack

    Joschka Fischer had not started his speech before a bag of red paint burst against his ear. As the German foreign minister flinched and security guards wrestled his attacker to the ground, someone in the crowd shouted: "In Yugoslavia it's blood that is flowing, not ketchup!" The outburst began a day of confrontations at a special party congress of the Greens last week in the industrial town of Bielefeld. One protester interrupted the meeting by prancing naked in front of the podium. Others set off stink bombs and chanted "Warmonger!" Marchers outside carried posters depicting Fischer with a Hitler mustache.At the end of the day, however, the foreign minister and other moderate Greens prevailed. They had blocked a resolution demanding an unconditional halt to NATO airstrikes against Yugoslavia--a move that might have toppled the center-left coalition of Chancellor Gerhard Schroder and seriously challenged the alliance's unity.The escape was a near thing. The party, formed some 20...
  • Fathers With Sons

    When Jarmila married Jiri Florian in the Czech city of Brno in January of 1969, she said "I do" to a TV technician. Two months later, her husband was also a Catholic priest. He'd been ordained in a secret ceremony shortly after their wedding. That was practically the only way Catholics in Czechoslovakia who opposed the communist regime could be ordained back then. Jarmila took it all in stride. "I was 18, and I saw it as a romantic adventure." She even helped her husband organize secret masses. They didn't tell their three daughters about their father's double life until the regime ended in 1989. But the girls weren't surprised. "Our oldest daughter told us she'd suspected for a long time," says Jarmila.Fortunately, the local communist authorities didn't. And that was the whole point. During the dark days of the cold war, the former Czechoslovakia's communist regime relentlessly persecuted Catholics, carefully vetting who could be ordained and jailing anyone who spoke out against...
  • Spoiling For A Fight

    Michael Steiner, a veteran diplomat, was skeptical when Germany's newly elected Chancellor Gerhard Schroder tapped him for the job of national-security adviser last fall. Schroder had toppled Helmut Kohl by waging a campaign focused almost entirely on domestic issues, vowing to reinvigorate the economy and bring down the unemployment rate. And in the early days, Steiner found it difficult to get his new boss to focus on foreign policy. "Oh, these diplomats," the chancellor would tease him, trying to get back to his domestic agenda as soon as possible. Not anymore--not in the midst of the first war in which Germany has participated since World War II. "Now, he realizes foreign policy is important," says Steiner with evident satisfaction.Kosovo has changed everything. Germany is suddenly front and center both in the fighting and diplomacy. While German Tornado jet fighters continued to play their part in the air war, Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer launched a new peace proposal last...
  • City On The Edge

    I'm the happiest man on earth," proclaims Mathias Dopfner, 36, editor of Die Welt, the only national German daily to have moved its headquarters to Berlin. "For the moment, this is the place to be. It's nearly 4 million people. It's where East and West meet. It's a divided city that's coming together again." Dopfner talks eagerly about the way he has revived the almost-moribund conservative newspaper since he took over the top job last July, and his pride in its expanded coverage of Berlin. He steps to the window of his 16th-floor office in the Axel Springer building, a window that once overlooked Checkpoint Charlie, the wall and a barren no man's land. All of them have now virtually disappeared. "It isn't beautiful," he says, pointing to the forest of cranes and jumbled construction down below. "But it's fascinating."And historic. Eight years after the German Parliament narrowly voted to relocate the capital, it will hold its first session next week in the rebuilt Reichstag. That's...
  • Dropping The Pilot

    A British tabloid crowned him "the most dangerous man in Europe." Other critics called him "Oskar the Red." An unabashedly leftwing Finance minister in a new German government that was trying, without much success, to establish its pro-business credentials, Oskar Lafontaine often seemed to overpower his boss, Chancellor Gerhard Schroder. So there was rejoicing in boardrooms and stock exchanges across Europe last week when Lafontaine suddenly quit.He did a thorough job of it. In three terse letters, Lafontaine, 55, gave up his cabinet post, his leadership of the ruling Social Democratic Party (SPD) and his seat in Parliament. The day before Lafontaine's resignation, Schroder reportedly complained at a cabinet meeting that "anti-business" policies were being foisted on him by his team and hinted that he might resign himself. When Lafontaine quit instead, Schroder denied that he had forced him out; Lafontaine refused to say anything at all; Schroder also denied that he planned to make...
  • Fresh Start

    The script was quite specific--and, if you were a businessman, more than a little alarming. After leading their Social Democratic Party to victory in national elections last September, Gerhard Schroder and Oskar Lafontaine would be virtual co-chancellors. Lafontaine, a good old-fashioned, bank-bashing, tax-and-spend leftist, would retain his position as party boss and also serve as Finance minister--a combination that raised questions as to which man would really be in charge. If Lafontaine became greedy, his foes warned, he might even dispense with the pretense and shove the more moderate, less determined Schroder out of the picture altogether. But somewhere along the line, the script got a major rewrite. Last week it was the fiery Lafontaine who abruptly resigned from the Finance Ministry, from his party job--and even from Parliament. And the man who was left standing, with the enhanced powers of party boss as well as chancellor, was none other than the putative lightweight,...
  • Bad Company

    WACLAW KOLODZIEJEK stands up, the smile frozen on his face, and pulls open his golf shirt. There on his chest, tattooed in bluish purple, are the numbers: 2254. They are slightly askew and off-center, just right of the sternum, as if the German who injected them was in a big hurry. And in August 1940, when Kolodziejek arrived at Auschwitz, the Nazis were. They had yanked him and thousands of other Poles off the streets of Warsaw to quickly turn the dusty little town into an extermination factory. His tattoo numbers prove that Waclaw--a blond, 17-year-old Catholic with movie-star looks--was among the first transported to Auschwitz. He helped build the place. For three years he was beaten and terrorized to the point where, today, when he walks the streets in the New York City borough of Queens, he keeps his back straight and looks ahead, as if in response to a ghostly command from the SS. In 1942, Kolodziejek says, Josef Mengele experimented on him. And later he nearly starved. He...
  • A Stumbling Start

    THE GERMAN MEDIA HAVE BEEN POUNDING CHANCELLOR GERHARD SCHRODER ever since he took office in late October. But it was the people of the state of Hesse who last week made it official: SchrOder and his ""Red-Green'' coalition government are off to a bad start. Ignoring polls that predicted re-election for Schroder's team in the first state contest since he became Germany's leader, Hesse's voters signaled their resentment of a planned liberalization of citizenship laws and awarded the opposition Christian Democrats a surprise victory. Schroder promptly backpedaled on the issue, as the Red-Green tensions that have confounded him from the start grew even worse. ...
  • Love Among The Nazis

    THE PLOT STRAINS CREDULITY. A young Jewish lesbian, living under a false identity in wartime Berlin, develops a crush on a German mother of four whose Nazi-loyalist husband is serving on the Eastern front. The Jewish woman seduces the German, who discovers true love for the first time. As the Gestapo hunts down the city's remaining Jews, the couple conducts a desperate affair for nearly two years. But ""Aimee and Jaguar,'' which will kick off the Berlin Film Festival this week, isn't the product of a screenwriter's overwrought imagination--it's history. ""A story like this has certain magic because it really happened,'' says Max Faberbock, the film's director. ...
  • All Is Forgiven, Or Is It?

    HE HAS NEVER READ A SPY novel. But from 1972 to 1981, Polish Col. Ryszard Kuklinski lived a double life that could have been concocted by John le Carre. While serving as a military planner and aide to Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, the last communist strongman, he delivered more than 35,000 top-secret Warsaw Pact documents to the CIA. Kuklinski always knew the price he might pay for his actions. ""There were many moments when I felt the execution squad right behind me,'' he told NEWSWEEK in a rare face-to-face interview in suburban Virginia last week. ""I thought about the possibility of torture every day.''Since narrowly eluding capture in Warsaw 16 years ago, Kuklinski, now 67, has lived under a false identity at secret locations in the United States. Poland sentenced him to death in absentia in 1984; five years later, when the communist regime crumbled and Solidarity took over, the sentence was commuted to life in prison. Last month prosecutors dropped all charges on the ground that...
  • Eastward Expansion

    MADELEINE ALBRIGHT'S RUSSIAN nickname is "Iron Lady." The U.S. secretary of state acted the part this month in Moscow. Negotiators from both sides were haggling over the shape of NATO-Russia relations after the alliance invites several former Warsaw Pact members to join. At first Moscow's Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov pressed for a "cap" on NATO troop numbers. Albright said no, then observed that her plane was on the tarmac, engines running, and time was short. Primakov abandoned his demand, but griped that Russians are terribly jittery about NATO enlargement. "I've heard your concerns," Albright said, smiling sweetly at the former spymaster. "As President Clinton likes to say, I feel your pain." ...
  • A Stirring In The Streets

    ISOLATED AND CONSUMED WITH THE Balkan war, Serbia has long seemed stubbornly immune to the democratic forces that freed Eastern Europe as the Soviet Union collapsed. President Slobodan Milosevic beat back his first big street protests in 1991; nearly a decade after the Soviet empire began to teeter, he still rules absolutely. But now nearly two months of daily demonstrations against the regime are steadily increasing the pressure on him to bow to democracy. Last week the anti-Milosevic movement buried its first martyr, a man apparently trampled by supporters of the government. On New Year's Eve, 250,000 people rallied in central Belgrade. Worst of all for Milosevic, the Serbian Orthodox Church broke a pattern of subservience to the government, demanding that Milosevic accept the results of local elections won by opposition candidates last Nov. 17, which the strongman had refused to do. The clerics also accused Milosevic of wrecking the Serbian economy--and turning the country into...
  • A Loose Cannon

    As Boris Yeltsin signed the decree that fired him, the trappings of power began to slip away from Aleksandr Lebed. His Kremlin phones went dead. His official bodyguards disappeared. Security agents carted away the files he left behind in his office. Conducting the dismissal on television, Yeltsin complained that Lebed had never been a team player. "I cannot tolerate this situation any longer," said the wan-looking Russian president. Lebed showed no sign of surprise or remorse. "I am no good as a bureaucrat," he said defiantly at a news conference. "I do not know how to bow. I do not know how to be servile." He barely disguised his belief that Yeltsin would not last long. Calling the president "an old sick man," Lebed said he would start campaigning to succeed him at the next election. Later he went to the theater to see a performance of "Ivan the Terrible," remarking with typical black humor: "I want to learn how to rule the state." ...
  • Heard On The Street: This Russia Is New

    MY FIRST TOUR AS Moscow bureau chief was cut short: in August 1982 I was expelled for ""impermissible journalistic activities.'' That broad term apparently covered a variety of offenses -- investigating food shortages in the provinces; writing about Leonid Brezhnev's physical decline and the ensuing Kremlin power struggle. Now in July 1996, I am winding up a second tour in Russia, still reporting on a Kremlin leader's health and its impact on future power struggles. Does it sound like I'm stuck in instant replay?I'm not. This really is a new Russia. I'm not talking only about the big changes: the collapse of communism and the development of democracy, however flawed and fragile. Those changes are now taken for granted, perhaps too much so. What has intrigued me just as much are the changes in individual behavior, Russia's street-level transformation.I mean that quite literally. When I came back to Moscow in late 1994 I had forgotten the how-to's of Russian traffic etiquette. I would...
  • Yeltsin, Act Ii

    BORIS YELTSIN KNOWS his own strengths and weaknesses. ""In emergency situations, I'm strong,'' he wrote in ""The Struggle for Russia,'' his volume of memoirs. ""In ordinary situations, I'm sometimes too passive.'' He's right. During his first term as president, Yeltsin powered his way through several emergencies: he faced down a coup by communist hard-liners, and ordered an army assault on rebellious parliamentary opponents. This year he's staged an extraordinary physical and political comeback. Unless the polls are wrong, he will beat Communist Party challenger Gennady Zyu- ganov in this week's runoff election. But in between adrena- line rushes, Yeltsin tends to fall into a funk. His chronically weak heart acts up. Or he hits the bottle. Or he just gets bored with the details of governing. And the country drifts along until the next crisis. Is that what the next four years will be like?Still focused on the campaign, Yeltsin strategists have done little thinking about a second term...
  • The Essential Zyuganov

    GENNADY ZYUGANOV occasionally relieves the deadly monotone of his campaign oratory with a flash of humor. In one of his favorite wisecracks, he compares himself to Boris Yeltsin and Mikhail Gorbachev. ""I myself drink a lot less than Boris Nikolayevich,'' the line goes, ""and a bit more than Mikhail Sergeyevich.'' Thus he neatly positions himself between Yeltsin's weakness for booze and Gorbachev's unpopular attempt to break the country of its drinking problem. In his unbuttoned mode, Zyuganov can be quite disarming. When I first met him, at Yekaterinburg in the Urals three years ago, I introduced myself as ""Andrew Nagorski -- NEWSWEEK.'' With an impish grin spreading across his beefy face, he replied: ""Gennady Zyuganov -- the Soviet Union.'' ...
  • Kissing Up To The Past

    STAND AT THE EDGE OF A RALLY for Communist Party candidate Gennady Zyuganov in an av- erage town like Klintsy in western Russia, and listen to his supporters: ...
  • Two Men Scheming For The Presidency

    It took the Communists five years to come back from the political dead. But in a stunning victory last month they won control of more than one third of the seats in the lower house of Russia's Parliament; ultranationalists came in second. President Boris Yeltsin, who appeared in public last week for the first time since his October heart attack, played down the results. But the vote stood as an important primary for the presidential race coming up in June. The outcome of the December vote has turned Gennady Zyuganov, the Communist Party leader, into a contender for Russia's top job-and may prompt the ailing and unpopular Yeltsin to seek reelection. Neither has yet declared himseft a candidate. Still, it's possible to imagine what these two front runners might be thinking as they plot their paths to power. One' correspondent's conjuring: ...
  • The Red Renaissance

    The symbols of Russian communism haven't changed much. When party leader Gennady Zyuganov addressed 2,000 enthusiastic supporters recently, a bust of Lenin looked down on the crowd. A big red banner hung behind the stage, with a hammer and sickle and the words WORK -- POWER TO THE PEOPLE -- SOCIALISM. Nor was Zyuganov's rhetoric a big surprise: Russia has fallen victim to the West's quest for global domination, he said; the reformers have looted the nation's vast wealth under cover of "privatization." But this wasn't just another rally in the run-up to Sunday's parliamentary elections. This was in Nizhny Novgorod, the Volga city widely hailed in Moscow and the West as the pacesetter of Russian economic reform -- the city one would expect to find most hostile to the communists' message. Yet Grigory Yavlinsky, one of the chief architects of Nizhny Novgorod's early reforms, attracted about 800 lukewarm supporters at his rally in the city two days later. ...
  • The Return Of The Reds

    The communists of the old Soviet bloc were always scared of their own people. Nothing frightened them more than a genuine mass movement--it showed how phony their own party-inspired "mass movements" really were. And no single person frightened them more than Lech Walesa, Nobel Prize winner and leader of the Solidarity trade union in Poland in the 1980s. Their fears were well founded, of course. As soon as glasnost in the Soviet Union offered a sliver of an opening, Wale-sa led Solidarity to power in the Polish Parliament in 1989, and communism quickly crashed across Eastern Europe. Walesa became president of Poland in 1990, the Soviet Union collapsed the next year, and there could no longer be any question about what The People wanted. ...
  • Boris In Autumn

    BORIS YELTSIN CALLED IT "THE best meeting, the friendliest meeting, the most understandable meeting" he had ever had with Bill Clinton. But history may judge last week's summit in Hyde Park, N.Y., differently. After Yeltsin collapsed in the Kremlin Thursday morning and had to be ehoppered to the hospital with an acute heart condition, it seemed possible that the two presidents' meeting on Franklin Roosevelt's old estate may have been their last. Aides hastened to describe Yeltsin's condition as "less serious" than the heart attack last summer that kept the Russian president holed up in a sanitarium for a month. But they say it will be the end of November before Yeltsin picks up a normal work schedule. Even his saturnine aide Viktor Ilyushin, in the long tradition of Kremlin trusties who hate to reveal anything about their bosses, admitted that "the president's condition does not inspire great optimism." ...
  • A Sharp Poke In The Back

    Give him some credit for trying to reinvent himself. Boris Yeltsin, the frequently cranky Russian president, proved he can also be . . . playful. Sort of. En route to his summit with Bill Clinton this week, Yeltsin held a press conference in which he summarily trashed NATO, America, Communists, his own prime minister and his supposedly pro-Western foreign minister, Andrei Kozyrev, whom he appeared to fire on live international TV. But his most startling performance preceded the interview. With cameras rolling, Yeltsin walked behind two women secretaries and, as he passed them, tweaked them between the shoulder blades. ...
  • Back To The Gulag

    Mart Niklus was a hard case. In the dark days of Soviet repression, he demanded independence for his homeland, Estonia--and for that served 16 years in labor camps known collectively as the gulag, or simply "the zone." As a prisoner, or zek, he fasted in protest and fought strip searches, earning stints in the shizo--cold punishment cells that broke many prisoners' health and spirits. When released in 1988, he smuggled out his striped uniform and wore it home. But with his battle won, he finds he can afford to be less combative now. Last week he joined other old zeks in a return to the Urals region near the town of Perm, 700 miles east of Moscow, where political prisoners languished for two decades. And when their bus passed a cluster of wooden posts and crosses in the little cemetery outside his old camp, Perm-36, he could no longer keep his emotions in check. "I know people who are buried there," he said, quickly wiping his eyes. ...
  • See No Evil, Hear No Evil

    Russia's hostage crisis had been bungled by just about everyone from Boris Yeltsin on down, and now it was time for recriminations. As Chechen insurgents returned to their homeland in triumph from the raid on Budyonnovsk, the Russian Parliament overwhelmingly voted no confidence in Yeltsin's government. "Today the whole country has become a hostage to adventurism and incompetence," charged Sergei Glazyev, who introduced the measure in the Duma. "We have a drunken president, a drunken people, a drunken country," fumed a Communist deputy, Viktor Ilyukhin. Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the crackpot nationalist politician, claimed Western agents controlled Yeltsin by feeding him pills that "go fight to his brain." Yeltsin responded to all the complaints with what might be called the John Major gambit: like the embattled British prime minister, he told his critics to put up or shut up. Yeltsin said that if Parliament voted no confidence one more time, he might dissolve it, calling early...
  • Nightmare In The Pacific

    Most people were still asleep when the earthquake, measuring a powerful 7.5 on the Richter scale, hit Neftegorsk. Within seconds, the oil town of 3,000 on isolated Sakhalin Island turned into a giant sarcophagus. Block after block of five-story apartment buildings collapsed, crushing hundreds of residents. Huge concrete slabs and steel beams trapped many of those who survived in the freezing night air. Rescue teams worked 24-hour shifts pulling bodies from the rubble. Undertakers struggled to fit corpses twisted by rigor mortis into pine coffins. The survivors--among them a 55-year-old woman saved by her bathtub when it turned over, two men who went outside for a smoke and a 6-month-old boy cushioned by an armchair-all lost relatives and friends. At the weekend, when a weaker second quake hit without causing much more damage, medical officials estimated that the death toll would rise well above 2,000. "I think this is the worst earthquake ever in Russia," said First Deputy Prime...
  • A Toast To...What?

    Bill Clinton looked more than a little displeased when he emerged from his three-hour summit with Boris Yeltsin to answer questions last week. He was going to have to wing it; overzealous Kremlin security had bottled up the senior staff who were carrying his opening statement. Not that there was much to say. On substance and even symbolism, Clinton had been outmuscled. Yeltsin stuck to plans for selling nuclear reactors to Iran, remained hostile toward NATO's expected eastward expansion and ignored Clinton's pleas for a permanent ceasefire in Chechnya. As if to underscore the intransigence, Russian helicopters that day fired rockets into farmhouses in a Chechen village. ...
  • 'V' Is Also For Vulnerable

    He's a waffler. Voters aren't sure what he stands for. Most of his potential opponents in next year's presidential campaign think he's too soft on the other superpower. And few of his countrymen could care less about the meeting with his counterpart this week. Who is he: (a) Bill Clinton or (b) Boris Yeltsin? ...
  • 'Kill The German--Your Homeland's Soil Pleads.'

    On July 31, 1945, an ammunition dump left behind by the retreating German Army in the Sudeten town of Aussig mysteriously blew up. Czech militiamen and newly liberated civilians suspected sabotage by Nazi sympathizers -- and took revenge on German civilians. A mother wheeling her child in a carriage was clubbed to death; both were tossed into the Elbe River. Hundreds of innocent people died in wild gunfire. "This affair will sooner or later have to be discussed," warned a Czech official, "unless we want to be condemned collectively like the Germans." ...
  • Trying To Grab The Microphone

    The students were everywhere. Crammed around the speaker on the stage of the auditorium, occupying every inch of floor space and windowsill, while hundreds more shoved in from the corridors. For more than three years Mikhail Gorbachev has floated in near political oblivion in Russia, but he was treated like a star on his recent visit to Novosibirsk State University in western Siberia -- and he loved it. After fielding questions for two hours on everything from Boris Yeltsin's war in Chechnya to his own record and rumors about his wealth, the last leader of the Soviet Union was ecstatic abouthis reception. ""They were jammed in there like sardines,'' he exulted. ""This meansthat something is happening in people's thoughts, minds and souls.''This week marks the 10th anniversary of Gorbachev's rise to power, the beginning of the era of glasnost and perestroika, but much more than commemorations are in his thoughts, mind and soul. His trip to Novosibirsk left no doubt that he is eager...
  • The General Waiting In The Wings

    Ask Lt. Gen. aleksandr Lebed a question, and he usually gives a straight answer. Why has the Russian Army suffered such humiliation in Chechnya? "The soldiers don't know what they are fighting for," he says. The Chechens are "fighting like wolves for their homeland," he adds, and their president, Dzhokhar Dudayev, has been turned into "a national hero" by Moscow's bungling. Should Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev resign? "Absolutely," Lebed replies. But when the general is asked whether he has any ambitions to replace President Boris Yeltsin, he turns coy. "I love the army," he mutters, his gravelly voice dropping to an even deeper pitch. Is a military coup against Yeltsin possible? "Let's wait and see," he says. ...
  • A Tortured Legacy

    Even in the silence of the polish countryside, Auschwitz can not rest in peace. The name alone prompts instant recognition -- a shorthand for the criminal barbarity of the 20th century. If ever there were a place in which myth was unseemly and unnecessary, where fact could be left unadorned, it would be Auschwitz. For 50 years, that has not been the case.The list of myths and misconceptions about the largest Nazi concentration camp is a long one. Soviet investigators declared in May 1945 that 4 million people had died in Auschwitz, and the Polish Communist authorities stuck to this inflated figure until they lost power in 1989. Since then the number has been revised to between 1.1 million and 1.5 million, which most historians now believe is accurate. Until the Soviet blocfell, the exhibits at Auschwitz downplayed the number of Jewish victims, suggesting that their part of the total was smaller than the 90 percent figure generally accepted today. In the West, many erroneously...