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.

Genocide against and forced starvation of Ukrainian peasants in the 1930s.

The forced deportation of The Kalmyks to Siberia

Part 2 of a documentary on the Romanian Gulag of Pitesti

A collection of drawings and paintings made by gulag survivor Thomas Sgovio.

Back to May Day 2008: A Day of Remembrance

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Wonderfully put

This is a terrific post.

The Eastern European countries don't get nearly enough credit for either what the suffered under the USSR or for their transition to functioning democracies.

Estonia recently had to go through a "controversy" after they removed a Soviet war memorial. Their president had the good sense to tell the critics to shove off :

Estonia’s president, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, on suggestions from Moscow that his country should apologize for relocating that Soviet-era war memorial:

“We are sorry that so many people were murdered by the Soviet regime.”

So am I.

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My connection is two sons from Romania and many trips to Romania myself. The Western European nations don't want to acknowledge the suffering because of their inaction and perfidy, not because they didn't know about it.

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A History The EU Wants to Forget | The Distributed Republic

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