- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 29, 2003

The 20th century will be remembered as the bloodiest century in history. A major reason was the 1917 establishment by Vladimir Lenin and his Bolsheviks of a Marxist regime in Russia. The Soviet Union was the epicenter of a communist empire that, until its disintegration in 1991, spread doctrines of economic collectivism and class struggle to almost every part of the globe. From Eastern Europe to Africa to Latin America to Asia, hundreds of millions suffered the brutality of Marxist-Leninist dictatorships.

Now, if some in Washington have their way, the memories of the countless victims of communism will be remembered. Led by its courageous president, Jay Katzen, the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (www.victimsofcommunism.org) is seeking to erect a monument in D.C. dedicated to those who perished under Marxism’s murderous reign. Their goal is to have the Memorial Monument built by October of next year. A monument is desperately needed because, sadly, communism’s crimes risk being forgotten.

Lenin’s project resulted not only in unprecedented economic and ecological destruction, but more importantly the greatest system of mass murder ever invented: More than 100 million individuals were killed at the hands of communist regimes. Yet many Western academics continue to deny or downplay the full extent of communist atrocities.

It is common on many campuses in the United States to hear that Marxism-Leninism, unlike its totalitarian twin, fascism, was a benevolent ideology that sought to impose universal peace and social justice — that it was a good idea gone bad. Nothing could be further from the truth.

From its inception, communism sought to forge a new order based on genocide and mass murder. Lenin set the precedent, followed by subsequent Marxist regimes, that to establish a revolutionary proletarian state, entire categories of humans needed to be systematically wiped out: the bourgeoisie, kulaks, counterrevolutionaries and intellectuals who refused to follow the Bolshevik line. The totalitarian essence of Lenin’s vision was that it sought to erect the perfect society by imposing one-party rule and smashing all dissent and opposition.

Recent history has been littered with Lenin’s evil offspring — Josef Stalin, Mao Tse-tung, Josip Broz Tito, Ho Chi Minh, Pol Pot, Nicolae Ceausescu, Fidel Castro. The atrocities committed by these dictators need to be remembered not only to honor the dead but because they reveal the seminal lesson of the past century: Utopianism leads to totalitarianism; the road to Utopia goes through Golgotha.

The millions slaughtered by communist regimes were not accidental byproducts of misguided policies, but central to the Marxist project. For example, during the 1933 terror famine, Soviet leader Josef Stalin systematically starved to death about 10 million Ukrainian peasants. His genocidal goal was to eviscerate the Ukrainian peasantry, hoping to crush the heart of the Ukraine nation and consolidate his iron grip on power. Stalin’s victims also included other captive peoples: the Poles, Slovaks, Czechs, Hungarians, Romanians, Chechens, Latvians, Estonians, Lithuanians and the Crimean Tatars (who were literally wiped off the map after World War II).

The same pattern repeated itself in Asia. The withdrawal of U.S. power from Southeast Asia in 1973 resulted in unimaginable horrors for those living in the region. Communist regimes were installed in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Millions of Cambodians were slaughtered by Pol Pot, while countless South Vietnamese risked their lives on the high seas to flee the rampaging North Vietnamese army.

However, the most brutal communist tyrant was Mao. In 1959, “the Red Emperor” launched his crash collectivization program, his so-called “Great Leap Forward,” which was supposed to bring China into modernity. Instead, it led to the deaths of more than 20 million Chinese. Many of the victims were children who were eaten by starving peasants.

Yet while the crimes of fascism are rightly remembered by Western academics and journalists, the ghastly crimes of communism remain largely ignored. This is wrong. The lives of those who were murdered by Hitler’s thugs are not worth more than those who died at the hands of Stalin. The victims of communism deserve better. And if Mr. Katzen has his way, they will finally get the recognition that has been denied to them for so long.

Jeffrey T. Kuhner is assistant national editor at The Washington Times.

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