Jeff Gospe and the Fall of Communism
Jeff Gospe, Rotarian and financial advisor in Santa Rosa presented an interesting and enlightening account of his participation in the events following the breakup of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Since an early age, he recalls an interest in the history of the Soviet Union and communism. This turned into studies at Stanford University following his graduation from Santa Rosa High School. He studied abroad, in Poland, during his junior year at Stanford and was caught up in the middle of events surrounding the taking down of the Berlin wall as well as being involved with the Solidarity movement and the first free elections in Poland.
Following completion of his studies at Stanford, which included both financial management as well as history of Eastern Europe, he was employed by Ernst & Young and because of his background in Eastern European history was involved in the team that was to ultimately provide an introduction to capitalism for the Soviet Union prior to the time of its breakup.
He gave a vivid account of the events occurring in Poland during his 7 months of study there when he was 20 years old. He saw firsthand some of the street demonstrations and reactions that were occurring in the country leading up to the first free election which was held in June, 1989. This preceded the fall of the Berlin wall by approximately 4 months.
It was after his graduation from college his first job was with Ernst and Young Accountancy. Because of his skills and knowledge of Eastern Bloc history he was part of a team sent to the former Eastern Bloc countries and was instrumental in helping to bring the concept of a market economy, a stock exchange, and the development of an accounting professional corps in the Soviet Union. He was involved in developing a system of valuation and privatization of pre-existing state owned and operated businesses in Russia. He also helped industries from outside the Soviet Union develop associations and affiliations with similar industries within the Soviet Union. When the Soviet Union finally disbanded in December, 1991, many of the people that he had helped train became leaders in several of the 15 countries that resulted from the breakup of the Soviet Union.
In addition to his presentation, he brought memorabilia from his stay in Poland that he was able to smuggle out of the country when he returned to the states to complete his studies at Stanford.