by Russian Anti-Communist Organizations
to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)
The year 2009 was significant for Europe because of the adoption of several international agreements condemning totalitarianism in the past.
On 2 April, the European Parliament adopted the “Resolution on European Conscience and Totalitarianism.” On 3 July, at its 18-th annual session, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) adopted the Vilnius Declaration which included the “Resolution on Divided Europe Reunited,” which equated the role of the USSR and Germany in the divisions in Europe that resulted from the Second World War.
Russian anti-Communist organizations have from the start supported the initiative of the European Parliament condemning Communism, and expressed that supported in an Open Letter to PACE entitled, “Russians Support the idea of the International Condemnation of Communism” (June 2006).
Recognizing the unique importance and relevance of issuing a formal, international condemnation of Communism, we welcome the adoption of this Resolution and Declaration as important steps in the direction of achieving that condemnation.
We would emphasize that the official condemnation of Communism is not only an act that reestablishes historical justice and pays tribute to the memory of the millions who were its victims, but is also a fundamental issue that must be addressed before Europe, especially those countries in Europe that suffered under Communist regimes, can progress forward.
Article 15 of the PACE’s “Resolution on European Conscience and Totalitarianism” calls for the “proclamation of 23 August as a Europe-wide Day of Remembrance for the victims of all totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, to be commemorated with dignity and impartiality.” The OSCE also came out in support for 23 August to be a European-wide Day of Remembrance for the victims of Stalinism and Nazism.
Without a doubt, the establishment of a European-wide Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Totalitarianism is a step in the right direction. This Day of Remembrance should exist as a solemn commemoration of the millions of victims of totalitarianism and as a cautionary reminder for us all not to repeat these tragedies in the future. Also without a doubt, the date 23 August 1939, the day when an evil treaty was signed between the leaders of two despicable totalitarian regimes that divided Europe into spheres of influence, stands out even today as historically significant and directly connected to the tragic fates of the people of Europe.
But humanity must remember that the history of the crimes of totalitarianism, just like the history of the division of Europe that followed the Second World War, began long before the treaty between the Communists and the Nazis.
Even before the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 23 August 1939, Hilter’s regime passed vile racial laws; had created the concentration camps at Dachau (1933), Sachsenhausen (1936), Buchenwald (1937), Mauthausen-Gusen (1938), Ravensbrьck (May 1939), and so on; and had invaded Czechoslovakia—an invasion that was made possible by another shameful pact for Europe: the Munich Agreement of 30 September 1938.
But if the history of National-Socialist totalitarianism began in 1933, the crimes of Communist totalitarianism began its history as early as 7 November 1917.
The mass execution of people as class enemies, the terror against the Orthodox Church, the creation of the GULAG system, the dispossession of the kulaks, mass deportations, collectivization, the terror-famine in the Ukraine, and the mass organized genocide of the Russian people—all these and other crimes against humanity, which took the lives of tens of millions of people, all occurred long before the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.
Don’t the people who fell victim to Communism and National-Socialism before August 1939 deserve that their memory be honored “with dignity and impartiality” as much as those who suffered afterward? Aren’t the fates of those countries held captive by totalitarian regimes before August 1939 just as tragic? Aren’t the horrific events that took place before August 1939 just as significant for European history?
If so, then the choice of 23 August as an all-European Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Totalitarianism is not entirely appropriate.
It seems to us that 7 November—the day when the Bolshevik totalitarian dictatorship seized power in Russia—better corresponds to the ideals behind the establishment of a Day of Remembrance. For it was precisely on 7 November that the first blood-drenched totalitarian system in world history was founded. From that mournful day, when the Communists seized power for the first time in any country and brought into realization Marxist-Leninist theories, there began a long litany of crimes. The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact counts as merely one of many horrific events that followed on the catastrophe of 1917.
We would also like to point out that our call to recognize 7 November as a Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Communism was first made in 1927 by the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCA), Metropolitan Antonii (Khrapovitskii). Since 1930, first under the initiative of the Russian Society Committee in Poland, then later in all countries with a sizeable Russian йmigrй presence, 7 November had been marked as the Day of Sorrow and Remembrance. For already approximately 80 years, Russian anti-Communists have on this grim anniversary honored the memory of the victims of Communism, testifying to their irreconcilability to it, and remembering the heroes who have given their lives fighting this Red evil.
We call upon the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) to support Russia’s anti-Communists and declare 7 November the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Communism.
This year, there has been a call from international tribunals for a condemnation of the “Stalinist Past.” We cannot leave this point without first emphasizing and remembering that a call for a “condemnation of the Stalinist past” is not at all a recent thing.
Such a call was made by the leaders of the Communist Party soon after Stalin’s death and proclaimed by Nikita Khrushchev in 1956 at the XX-th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU). This call for condemnation was, in essence, nothing more than assigning all blame for all the crimes of Communists on one man—Stalin, who had just died—accusing him of distorting the “bright Communist ideal.” In this way, the Party and its leaders were attempting to exonerate themselves from complicity in Stalin’s crimes.
In point of fact, however, Stalinism and the Stalin era were merely one link in a long chain of bloody crimes of Communism. These crimes were perpetrated by an international Communist gang, starting back in 1917—long before the arrival of Stalin in power. And these crimes continued after his death: the armed seizure of power and the disintegration of the country during the Civil War (1917); the murder of the Imperial family (1918); the Red Terror (1918-1920); War Communism (1918-1920); attempts to foster violent revolutions in Western Europe (1920); the invasion of Hungary (1956), of Czechoslovakia (1968), of Afghanistan (1979-89); and the mass use of punitive psychological confinement against dissenters. And to these and many other crimes, a catalogue of which could fill a whole library of books, Stalinism has no direct connection whatsoever.
At the root of all the crimes of the Red Internationalists lies a single hateful ideology. Therefore, in condemning Stalinism it is necessary at the same time to condemn Marxism-Leninism, which gave birth to Stalinism, and the criminal regimes of Khrushchev, Brezhnev, Andropov, and other leaders of the CPSU, that continued to embrace Marxism-Leninism. Communist regimes in all countries, whose local leadership oppressed its own people, should all be equally condemned.
The vague and watered-down concept of “condemning Stalinism” without also condemning the Communist ideology and practice as a whole is an idea that only serves to conceal the multitude of crimes of the past and facilitate the continued existence of parties and factions of the Communist persuasion.
We call upon European politicians and the European public to reject the half-hearted decision to limit this condemnation only to the “Stalinist past,” and to denounce and condemn decisively and uncompromisingly the criminal theory and criminal practice of Communism in its entirety.
Only such a course will produce an effective end to the legacy of Communist totalitarianism and will sufficiently guarantee the world against a Communist revenge or a return to the Red nightmare.
Finally, we want to point out to the members of the European Parliament the problems with equating totalitarian regimes of various forms with authoritarian and non-democratic regimes, which one finds in the text of the “Resolution on European Conscience and Totalitarianism.”
Without a doubt, any crime perpetrated against the individual—murdering or torturing innocent people—is to be condemned no matter what form of government is responsible for it. Yes—as history shows: such crimes were committed not only by Communists and National-Socialists. Unfortunately, violence against the individual and crimes against humanity can be committed even by non-totalitarian regimes, and even by the most democratic forms of government (it is enough to call to mind the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or the forced repatriation of many thousands of Russian anti-Communists by Great Britain between 1945 and 1946, who returned home to their deaths at Stalin’s hands). But can these acts serve as a kind of “exoneration” for the acts of Communists and Nationalist-Socialists, as a foundation for equating them with authoritarian and democratic governments?
Of course not! For between totalitarianism and authoritarian regimes there is a principal difference. Authoritarianism never is a synonym for criminality and hatred for mankind. Running the range from the biblical kingdom of King Solomon to the majority of governments in world history, most were authoritarian (non-democratic) in form. Moreover, authoritarian methods often were the only means that the state and the people had at their disposal to hold back the dangers posed by fanatical advocates of totalitarianism, who single-mindedly struggled to seize governmental power. And history shows that when authoritarian methods restraining political criminals and adventurists weakened, totalitarianism came to power. Thus it happened in Russia in 1917 and in Germany in 1933…
On the other hand, the concept of hatred for mankind is inseparable from totalitarianism and totally alien to authoritarianism. The totalitarian system not only killed on a massive scale, it also interfered with the consciousness of its victims, destroying their inner world, morally distorting and corrupting from childhood hundreds of millions of people! World history knows nothing more monstrous than the crimes of totalitarian regimes—neither on its scale, nor its cruelty, nor the monstrosity of its pursued goals!
And any attempt to put authoritarianism and totalitarianism on the same level completely denies the inhumane character of the latter. And this could disorient people about the true dangers of totalitarianism and create among the younger generations a false image of the totalitarian past.
We call on European politicians to approach the evaluation and condemnation of totalitarianism with all seriousness of purpose and objectivity, as the uniquely dangerous phenomenon it is, and one that has not yet or fully lost its destructive potential.
It is obvious that, despite the many steps taken by the European Parliament and the OSCE between 2006 and 2009, the question of the condemnation of Communism is today still far from resolved. The process that it has begun has been met with strong resistance both from Communist Parties and from supporters and the direct successors of the Communist past, working furiously to stop this process or to limit it to formal and ineffective measures.
But no half measures can solve this important human problem, which is so vital to our common past and common future. And no political or economic interests can justify a compromise or reconciliation with those who perpetrated or justify crimes against humanity. The question of the condemnation of Communism can only be effectively resolved by undertaking the most decisive measure, analogous to the measures taken at Nuremberg with regard to National-Socialism—with all the judicial consequences that such measures entail.
Russian anti-Communists believe that it is their patriotic duty to continue exposing the crimes of Communism and to lead the struggle for its moral and legal condemnation until that condemnation is finally and universally achieved.
We call upon the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the OSCE not to cease the work that they have begun in this direction: the remembrance of the victims of the Red totalitarianism should be carried to its logical end! In order to make this work genuinely effective, it is necessary to carry it through with persistence, without regard for the political climate at the moment, nor recoiling before the opposition of those who wish only to conceal the truth.
Signed (in alphabetical order):
Igor Borisovich Ivanov, Chairman of the Russian Combined Military Union
Igor Viacheslavovich Ogurtsov, Founder and Head of the All-Russian Social-Christian Union for the Liberation of the People
Georgii Aleksandrovich Fedorov, Chairman of the Russian Imperial Union-Order