From the Gulag to the Killing Fields: Personal Accounts of Political Violence and Repression in Communist States
Recorded on June 28, 2006
Location: The Heritage Foundation's Lehrman Auditorium
As a global phenomenon, the scale and character of communism is
only now coming into focus. The opening of formerly inaccessible
archives has helped to establish empirically the extent and
brutality of Communist totalitarianism. But what about Communist
terror as personally experienced by the dissidents, the so-called
obstructionists who stood in the way of the Communists' efforts to
create the new man of the socialist utopia?
From the Gulag to the Killing Fields (ISI Books) is the
first volume to collect more than forty dramatic personal memoirs
of Communist violence and repression from political prisoners
across the globe. Several distinctive features of Communist
political violence can be discerned from these compelling accounts.
The most important, argues editor Paul Hollander, is that communism
was "violence with a higher purpose" - that is, it was devised and
undertaken to create a historically superior social system that
would not only abolish scarcity, exploitation, and inequality, but
also would create a new and unique sense of community, social
solidarity, and personal fulfillment. Nothing, of course, was
allowed to stand in the way of this effort to radically and totally
transform the human condition - least of all human beings.
But, as Anne Applebaum notes in her foreword, human nature
persisted: "Every person who entered the camps discovered qualities
in themselves, both good and evil, that they hadn't previously
known they had. Ultimately, that self-discovery is the true subject
of most camp memoirs, and the true subject of this book."
Join us as renowned scholar Paul Hollander - who himself escaped
from Hungary after the defeat of the 1956 revolution - chronicles
the human cost of communism and the horrific 20th Century saga we
must never forget.