June 12, 2007
By Lee Edwards, Ph.D.
At a busy intersection on Capitol Hill in Washington, a great
wrong is being righted. In the world's most powerful city, a
memorial to the victims of an evil ideology is being unveiled. It's
Consider this: Ask almost anyone how many Jews died in the
Holocaust, and they will reply, "Six million." That number has been
embedded in our minds through books, films, articles, Web sites and
lectures. And that's as it should be. We should always remember the
"absolute evil" (as Russian studies professor Martin Malia called
it) the Nazis carried out during World War II.
But ask almost anyone how many people died under communism in
the 90 years since the Bolshevik Revolution. Few can provide
anything close to an accurate answer. They don't know that Lenin,
Stalin, Khrushchev and the other rulers of the Soviet Union
murdered 20 million people through purges, famines, forced
relocations and the infamous Gulag.
They don't know that Mao Zedong and the other Chinese Communist
leaders slaughtered 50 million to 60 million people during the
"Great Leap Forward," the Cultural Revolution, the Tiananmen Square
massacre and in the Chinese version of the Gulag--the Laogai.
They don't know that Fidel Castro and the other Cuban Communist
leaders have executed thousands of political dissidents since 1959
and continue to imprison those who dare to propose political
They don't know that the communist plague has exacted a death
toll of more than 100 million men, women and children, a number
documented in "The Black Book of Communism," published by the
Harvard University Press. That number surpasses the death tolls of
all the wars of the 20th century combined.
The widespread ignorance about the staggering cost of communism
must be corrected, and the Victims of Communism Memorial is a major
step. It features a 10-foot-high bronze replica of the "Goddess of
Democracy" statue erected by Chinese students in Tiananmen Square
in the spring of 1989 (a monument Chinese Communist tanks destroyed
within a few days).
We selected the democracy statue (based on our own Statue of
Liberty) as a symbol of communism's always-brutal reaction to those
who challenge its authority. The statue has become a global symbol
of man's innate desire for freedom.
The front pedestal of our statue says, "To the more than one
hundred million victims of communism and to those who love
liberty." On the back it says, "To the freedom and independence of
all captive nations and peoples." These words remind us that
one-fifth of the world's population is still forced to live under
No federal funds were used for our memorial, but we did receive
the generous help of several foreign governments, led by the
Republic of China on Taiwan. And from the beginning of our
national, multi-year campaign, we've been supported by many ethnic
communities, especially Vietnamese-Americans, who outdistanced
everyone else in their financial support.
We look forward to the next steps in our educational program:
the creation of a "virtual museum" on the Internet and the
construction of a bricks-and-mortar museum and library near
In recent years, the nation's capital has been favored with a
memorial museum about the Jewish Holocaust, as well as a memorial
to the veterans of World War II. And we already had fitting
memorials to those killed in the Korean and Vietnam wars.
Our memorial to the victims of communism fills in a key part of
this historical picture and helps explain that we fought in Korea
and Vietnam to help win the Cold War.
Visitors to our memorial will remember the Hungarian patriots
killed by Soviet troops and tanks in 1956. They'll remember those
who tried for more than a quarter of a century to scale the bare
concrete and barbed wire of the Berlin Wall--and the brave "boat
people" of Vietnam who risked everything to gain freedom.
We must remember and memorialize the more than 100 million
victims of communism so that never again will nations and peoples
allow so evil a tyranny to terrorize the world.
Lee Edwards is
distinguished fellow in conservative thought at The Heritage
Foundation and chairman of the Victims of Communism Memorial
First appeared in Examiner.com
At a busy intersection on Capitol Hill in Washington, a great wrong is being righted. In the world's most powerful city, a memorial to the victims of an evil ideology is being unveiled. It's high time.
Lee Edwards, Ph.D.
Distinguished Fellow in Conservative Thought, B. Kenneth Simon Center for Principles and Politics
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