President Donald Trump proclaimed Nov. 9 as “World Freedom Day,” to celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall and to denounce communism, while recognizing those who have stood up against communism and other totalitarian systems.
The Berlin Wall was built by communist East Germany to keep people from escaping its totalitarian regime. In his proclamation, Trump honored the events on Nov. 9, 1989, “when people of East and West Germany tore down the Berlin Wall and freedom triumphed over communism.”
“The fall of the Berlin Wall spurred the reunification of Germany and the spread of democratic values across Central and Eastern Europe,” Trump said. “Through democratic elections, and a strong commitment to human rights, these determined men and women ensured that their fellow and future citizens could live their lives in freedom.”
He added, “Today, we are reminded that the primary function of government is precisely this, to secure precious individual liberties.”
“On World Freedom Day, we recommit to the advancement of freedom over the forces of repression and radicalism,” Trump said. “We continue to make clear that oppressive regimes should trust their people and grant their citizens the liberty they deserve. The world will be better for it.”
The proclamation comes on the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution, between Nov. 6 and Nov. 9, 1917, which began a series of communist dictatorships that collectively have killed more than 100 million people.
Trump had also signed a proclamation recognizing the victims of communism, and named Nov. 7 as “National Day for the Victims of Communism.” According to the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, this was the first time America has declared a day recognizing the victims of communism.
“These movements, under the false pretense of liberation, systematically robbed innocent people of their God-given rights of free worship, freedom of association, and countless other rights we hold sacrosanct. Citizens yearning for freedom were subjugated by the state through the use of coercion, violence, and fear,” the office of the White House press secretary said in a statement.
It noted that in addition to those killed under communism, “countless more” were subjected to “exploitation, violence, and untold devastation.”
Congress is also getting behind the stand against communism. On Nov. 7, members of Congress formed a bipartisan Victims of Communism Caucus, with Representatives Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), Dennis Ross (R-Fla.), and Chris Smith (R-N.J.).
According to a press release, the caucus is dedicated to “raising awareness of how communism victimized and enslaved more than one hundred million people in the past and how its tyranny in the five existing communist countries (China, Cuba, Laos, North Korea, and Vietnam) and its legacy in the post-Soviet sphere shapes international relations today.”
It will focus on issues including Russia’s expansion into Ukraine, the deteriorating socialist system in Venezuela, continued human rights abuses under the Castro family’s communist regime in Cuba, and ongoing nuclear threats from North Korea’s communist regime.
At the same time, the caucus will recognize those who were killed by communism, and those who are still standing up against it. The release says, “The Caucus will honor the memory of the 100 million victims of communism and raise awareness about the dissidents who continue to protest against current communist regimes.”
Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), co-chair of the caucus, said in the release, “As many of my constituents have personally experienced, the successful struggle for freedom from under the yoke of authoritarianism, inherent to communism, deserves special attention in the annals of history. This caucus will shine a light on the victims’ struggle, and work to keep the flame of human rights around the world alive.”
Congressman Dennis A. Ross (R-Fla.) said in the release, “Our caucus will ensure that we do not forget those victims who were forced to choose between their faith and the cruelty of a dictatorship. We must hold fast to the virtues of freedom.”
Many experts on communism believe the number of those killed under the ideology based on atheism and struggle could be as high as 150 million or more. According to the Heritage Foundation, the estimates even vary drastically on those killed under Vladimir Lenin’s Bolshevik Revolution.
It notes that historian Richard Pipes says Lenin’s revolution, and the Stalinist regime that followed, killed 9 million, while historian Robert Conquest says the number is at least 20 million, with another 30 million killed under the “Great Terror.”
As communism spread, other countries experienced similar tragedies under its totalitarian system. The report notes that the murderous regime of the Soviet Union was surpassed only by Mao Zedong’s Chinese Communist Party, which it says killed between 44.5 million and 72 million people.
It adds, however, that “it isn’t just the loss of life that stains the history of communism. Its legacy is also one of grinding poverty. Most of the 88 countries that score ‘repressed’ or ‘mostly unfree’ on the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom are either communist, former communist, or some type of socialist economy. They are also the world’s poorest nations.”
Recognizing these tragedies and destructive ideologies, Trump said in his proclamation for World Freedom Day, “While we live in a time of unprecedented freedom, terrorism and extremism around the world continue to threaten us. The ultimate triumph of freedom, peace, and security over repressive totalitarianism depends on our ability to work side-by-side with our friends and allies. When nations work together, we have and we will secure and advance freedom and stability throughout our world.”