A History The EU Wants to Forget
The European Union recently debated a contentious issue dividing Western Europe from the former Soviet-Bloc countries of Central and Eastern Europe. The issue was a proposed formal condemnation of communism for crimes against humanity, inspired by prior condemnations of fascism and Nazism.
For formerly communist member states such as Latvia and Estonia, the proposed condemnation is a matter of justice and reconciliation of deep personal importance to their own people and essential to their continued relations with the rest of Europe. But the Western member states, never having experienced communism firsthand, view a condemnation of communism as unneccesary, politically inconvenient, and even revisionist.
From Radio Free Europe:
For those seeking to condemn communism for crimes against humanity, it's been an uphill battle. The strongest resistance comes from the EU's political left. Jan Marinus Wiersma, a Dutch socialist and a leading figure in the EU's socialist group, attacked what he described as "party-political interpretations of history.""All too often, differing interpretations can lead to different visions, different ways of understanding things, and sometimes xenophobia [and nationalism]," he said. "This is extraordinarily dangerous in a Europe which is characterized by diversity, that includes ethnic diversity. There are no simple answers to difficult historical questions. Let's not overlook this, because quite often, people have a populist interpretation of history."
Wiersma attacked attempts at drawing "facile or glib comparisons" between totalitarian regimes -- without once, however, identifying either by name. He said such debates have no place on the EU's agenda.
The leader of the smaller European United Left, French politician Francis Wurtz, was more outspoken. He rejected the idea of a "Nuremberg of ideologies" and said putting Soviet-era crimes on a par with those of Nazism "relativizes" the Holocaust and other Nazi atrocities. Even if lawmakers could find a common stance on the issue, the best the body could do formally is pass a moral judgment on communism. The real powers on such matters lie with the member states.
In April 2007, EU justice ministers passed a law making it a criminal offense to publicly condone, deny, or trivialize "genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes" -- provided such crimes were recognized as such by the Nuremberg Tribunal of 1945 or the statute of the International Criminal Court of 2002. Neither makes any reference to communist crimes. The EU's executive, the European Commission, has been instructed to study whether the need exists to augment the list of crimes.
In this age of Youtube and instant media, it's hard to believe that Western Europeans could remain oblivious to the record of crimes perpetrated by communist governments in their own backyard. To jog their memory, we present a small collection of videos documenting communist attrocities in Eastern Europe. If the EU fails to recognize and condemn these horrific crimes for any reason, then perhaps the rest of the developed world should be condemning the EU.