WASHINGTON—The third anniversary of the Victims of Communism Memorial, on June 10, was a solemn yet beautiful ceremony. Flower wreathes from 31 embassies and national patriot organizations decorated the normally barren location at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and New Jersey Avenue, two blocks from the nation’s Capitol Building.
Speakers at the commemoration reminded attendees of the more than 100 million victims of communism—the suffering and death, for people living under communism, continues today.
Dr. Lee Edwards, Chairman of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, recalled the commemoration last year when House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said, “There are no names on the wall of the memorial because there is no way to list all the names of the more than 100 million victims of communism who were killed.”
Dr. Edwards invoked the brutality and horror of communism by naming off various historical events of the 20th century: “The Ukraine Holodomor [famine], Stalin’s Reign of Terror, Katyn Massacre [when Polish officers were murdered in 1940], The Budapest Uprising of 1956, The Prague Spring of 1968, Bay of Pigs, Boat People of Vietnam, and the Killing Fields of Cambodia and Tiananmen Square.”
The Ukraine Holodomor that Dr. Edwards referred to occurred 1931-32 when Stalin ordered Soviet officials, using troops and secret police, to seize the grain of the peasants, who were given impossible quotas to meet. Because of this man-made famine, between 7 million and 10 million Ukrainians, mostly peasants, starved to death.
Stalin wanted to punish peasants and force collectivization of agriculture on them. So Ukraine, known as the “breadbasket of Europe,” underwent a tragedy on the same scale as the Nazi Holocaust. The European Parliament, in 2008, recognized the Holodomor as a crime against humanity.
Göran Lindblad, member of the Swedish Parliament, said victims of communism are still suffering in China, Vietnam, and Cuba. Lindblad was the Council of Europe’s rapporteur, who drafted Resolution 1481 on Crimes of Totalitarian Communist Regimes.
Communist Nations Today
Dr. Yang Jianli, president and founder of Initiatives for China, who was present at Tiananmen Square in 1989, wrote, “The choice of the Goddess of Democracy for the [Victims of Communism] memorial reminds us that the communist contagion has not been eradicated from this earth.”
The statue at the Victims of Communism Memorial is a replica of the statue that the students created at Tiananmen Square in Beijing. Dr. Yang’s words were read by Jim Geheran, Director of Initiatives for China, because Dr. Yang could not come to the commemoration.
Congressman Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.) reinforced the point that China is a communist country and practices communism despite what some people may say about China’s economy. McCotter said, “Their actions prove that they are [communist].”
McCotter explained the link between China and communism. “In the free world, we understand that our liberty precedes prosperity and security. Liberty is the most precious gift. In the People’s Republic of China and other communist countries, they believe that you can have state-provided prosperity and security without liberty.”
McCotter does not see how this view is any different from what was proclaimed by “the Bolsheviks, the Castro brothers, or the enemies of liberty throughout history.”
Representative Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.) was invited to speak. However, at the last moment, he was holding a hearing and could not break away for the ceremony.
The commemoration concluded with 31 embassies, national organizations, and a few individuals, each presenting wreathes in front of the statue of the Goddess of Liberty.
The majority of the embassies represented countries that had been part of the Soviet empire: Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Ukraine. A moment of silence followed and then closing remarks by Master of Ceremonies Karl Altau, who represented the Joint Baltic American National Committee (JBANC) and is a board member of the Memorial foundation.
Mr. Altau said members of the Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania communities would be returning to the Victims of Communism Memorial on June 14 when the Prime Minister of Latvia would be attending.
Stalin Bust at D-Day Memorial Criticized
The dictator, Joseph Stalin, was also mentioned in another context. Altau reminded the audience of Stalin’s deportations in the Baltic countries in 1941. He and Dr. Edwards stated that erecting the $50,000 bust of Stalin at the National D-Day Memorial last week in Bedford, Va., was a gross mistake. Dr. Edwards noted that no Soviet soldier was among those who stormed the beaches at Normandy on June 6, 1944.
“The only honorable thing for the National D-Day memorial to do is to remove the Stalin bust immediately,” Dr. Edwards said.