Friday, October 2, 2009

Spy vs. Spy

A study in contrasts in the obits this week.

First I saw this obit of Nicolae Plesita. You know it's going to be bad when the headline is "Feared Romanian Securitate Chief Plesita Dies." No watering down with how nice he was to puppies; just flat-out ruthless.
In post-communist Romania, Plesita continued to attract attention with his revelations from the Communist period, and showed no remorse for having crushed anti-communist dissent.

Several times, he described how he beat up dissident writer Paul Goma and dragged him around Securitate cells by his beard.

Yeah, just not a good guy.

On the other hand, there's your friendly Los Angeles real estate agent, Maria Liu, whose obituary is absolutely fascinating. She was part of the underground resistance in Slovakia during WWII. She was a courier, once transporting a short-wave radio in a suitcase, fluent in five languages, and helped American and British OSS agents get to the Russian lines in--wait for it!--Bucharest, Romania. "After reaching Bucharest, Romania, on March 1, Liu was flown to OSS headquarters in Italy, where 'she was put on Army status so she could get paid,' said Downs."

The story ends with the tidbit that "Liu, who became a U.S. citizen in 1952, worked for many years as a real estate agent." Who knows how many stories there are like this. First Julia Child, now this. And when we look back, will we be impressed or appalled?

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