Friday, November 21, 2008

Communist Crimes on Trial: archive

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Prague Daily Monitor: "Senators want to suspend Communist party"

The Czech Senate commission for the assessment of the constitutional character of the Communists (KSCM) yesterday recommended to the government that it propose the suspension of the party's activities to the Supreme Administrative Court (NSS), commissioner chairman Jaromir Stetina told journalists. The measure should make the party give up Communism, Stetina said. Interior Minister Martin Pecina said he doubted the proposal would be successful as there were not enough relevant arguments. He asked the senators to draft the proposal and leave the decision up to the government. (...) >>>

Dec. 9, 2009
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Become a signatory to the declaration:

"The Prague Declaration on European Conscience and Communism" - Group on Facebook

Nov. 26, 2009
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The left's blind spot:

With the recent commemorations of the fall of the Berlin Wall we were reminded of the fact that many a Western artist was voluntarily working in East Berlin, and that the counter culturists were largely apologetic of the hated edifice ... just like they're to this day trivializing the communist crimes elsewhere in the world:

The Atlasphere: "Excused Horrors", by Walter E. Williams

(...) Alan Kors, University of Pennsylvania history professor, gave the evening's keynote address. What he revealed about the dereliction and character weakness of academics, intellectuals, media elites and politicians is by no means complimentary, but worse than that, dangerous.
Professor Kors said that over the years, he has frequently asked students how many deaths were caused by Joseph Stalin and Mao Tsetung and their successors.

Routinely, they gave numbers in the thousands. Kors says that's equivalent to saying the Nazis are responsible for the deaths of just a few hundred Jews. But here's the record (...) Professor Kors asks why are the horrors of Nazism so well known and widely condemned, but not those of socialism and communism? (...) >>>

Nov. 18, 2009
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A former dissident's battle with the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes in Prague, who can't get used to glasnost:

Deutsche Welle: "Former dissident's database opens old wounds in Czech Republic"

Like most post-communist states, the Czech Republic has a special office to archive and make available documents gathered by the secret police. But one man's attempt to speed up the process is ruffling feathers. Communist Czechoslovakia relied on a web of security services to crush all opposition to socialism, and chief among them was the hated secret police, the Statni Bezpecnost or StB.

The StB, like any spy agency, kept hundreds of thousands of files on agents, informers, and targets of surveillance. Today, they're stored at the archives of the state-funded Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes in Prague. The archives are open to the public, although you have to know roughly what you're looking for before they'll let you in. After all, as Institute spokesman Jiri Reichl says, the archives are home to some 280 million pages of material stretching 20 kilometers (12 miles). The material is now being digitally scanned - a laborious process that will take decades to complete. (...)

Stanislav Penc is a former dissident who lives in seclusion on a goat farm 80 kilometers outside Prague. He's on a one-man mission to break what he calls the Institute's monopoly on the past. In the late 1980s, the StB started building a computerized database to keep track of its files. Penc says he received a copy of the database by e-mail from Jan Langos, the first director of the equivalent institute in Slovakia, before his death in 2005. Penc says he twice asked the Institute to put the database online as a research tool to help people find the files they were looking for. The Institute refused. So early in July, he did it himself. (...) >>>

Nov. 2, 2009
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Read an excerpt here. Reactions from the German papers.

Der Spiegel: "Nobel Prize for Herta Müller - Patriot of an Estranged Homeland", by Iliya Troyanov

Herta Müller's homeland is her past, a past that is etched into her like a tattoo. The decision to award her the 2009 Nobel Prize for literature is a signal that the injustices of communism in Eastern Europe should not be trivialized. (...)

Herta Müller fights against forgetting, against the frenzy of concealment and trivialization which has prevailed in Eastern Europe since 1989 and which seeks to pass off one of the worst periods of degradation and destruction of the individual as a regulated normality. (Unfortunately, this is an attitude that has also taken hold in the so-called "West," as could be seen in the completely uncritical reception to the recent election of communist apparatchik Irina Bokowa to the post of UNESCO director-general.)

From a distance, Herta Müller is able to preserve both her own experiences as well as those of people close to her in an idiosyncratic verbal memory which creates a new community of listeners for the silenced and awakens new empathy for the past. (...) >>>

Oct. 9, 2009
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FrontPageMag: "Silence of the Graves", by Stephen Brown

(...) Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin however disappointed his listeners by continuing to whitewash the crimes of the Soviet era. Putin was expected by Poland and other former Soviet bloc countries to make a statement of atonement for the Soviet Union’s carving up Eastern Europe with Adolph Hitler under the infamous Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.

The Pact, signed on August 23 and named after the two countries’ foreign ministers, gave Hitler the green light to attack Poland a week later, starting World War Two. Carrying out their side of the agreement, the Soviets followed up the Nazi assault with their own invasion of eastern Poland on September 17, 1939.

In his address to the guests, Polish President Lech Kaczynski angrily referred to this attack, when Poland was fighting desperately for its survival against the Nazis, as “a stab in the back.” The Soviets then went on to attack Finland and occupy the Baltic countries and parts of Rumania under the Pact’s secret protocols.

But while Putin admitted in his brief speech that the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was “immoral”, he disappointed his listeners by not admitting any Soviet responsibility for the conflict. He also did not once mention Stalin’s name or any Soviet atrocities committed in the Eastern European countries that came under Soviet occupation. The most famous of these crimes was the execution of 15,000 Polish officers in the Katyn Forest. But the Katyn victims were just the tip of the iceberg. (...) >>>

Sep. 8, 2009
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They still don't get it, do they? That the crimes accumulated by Socialism in all its guises are every bit as bad as those committed by Nazism (which was actually just one of those guises): point is, Nazism has become the all purpose scape goat, while the Left trivializes its own crimes unashamedly. Der Spiegel today gives us one such instance. It comes against the backdrop of yet another Stasi scandal. Twenty years ago some 17,500 'unofficial employees' voluntarily reported for screening for political crimes. Nothing much else was done. Victims continue to report stumbling upon their torturers on street corners and at schools. Colleagues eye eachother with suspicion - one of them might have been a Stasi informer, or worse. The victims hesitate for fear of accusions of witch hunts, and they aren't taken seriously.

Der Spiegel: "German Mayor In Trouble for Awarding Communist Medal", by David Crossland

The mayor of the eastern German town of Prenzlau was so pleased with one of his officials that he awarded him a vintage East German "Banner of Labor 1st Class." He has responded to the public outcry by saying it was a joke -- but faces calls to emigrate to North Korea. Hans-Peter Moser, mayor of the town of Prenzlau (...) said it was a joke but the case has outraged opposition councillors, and a senior district official has threatened to launch disciplinary proceedings. (...)

Moser is a member of the Left Party, which emerged from the Communist Party that ruled East Germany. Before he ran for office he publicly declared that he had been an unofficial informant for the Ministry for State Security -- the infamous security service that pursued dissidents. The Stasi had 91,000 full employees and a network of around 189,000 civilian informants, known as Inoffizielle Mitarbeiter (IM), German for unofficial employees, to spy on neighbors, co-workers and even relatives.

"I was an IM and I made that public long before the mayoral election and explained what happened and that I'm convinced I harmed no one," said Moser. He issued a statement on Tuesday saying he hadn't meant to belittle the town's festival committee. "I sincerely apologize for the situation which I now regard as thoughtless clumsiness on my part."

It may have been light-hearted, but the "Banner of Labor" award comes at the wrong time. As the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall approaches this November, there's heightened sensitivity in Germany to any vestiges of the regime that locked up political prisoners and exposed them to psychological torture in secret jails. (...) >>>

July 21, 2009
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Afshin Ellian, lecturer at Dutch Leiden University and a Persian refugee, writes in today's Elsevier column that the Ohnesorg murder not just culminated in the terror campaign unleashed by the Red Army Faktion and Baader Meinhof Grupe, but that the discovery also has repercussions in Tehran:

"It's interesting to know that the student was killed during a visit of the Shah. Therefore he was revered as a victim of German Liberal-Fascism (...) Their hero was killed by a Stasi agent who was paid DM 550 in 1955, DM 4,500 in 1966 ... not so romantic!"

Deutsche Welle: "Politicians call for re-examination of 1967 Ohnesorg murder"

The news that the perpetrator of a 1967 shooting was a spy for East Germany's Stasi secret police has sent shockwaves through Germany, shedding new light on the country's postwar history, amid calls for a fresh inquiry. Former German interior minister, Otto Schily, and Dirk Niebel, general-secretary of Germany's liberal Free Democrats, have called for a new investigation into the circumstances surrounding the fatal shooting in 1967 of student activist Benno Ohnesorg. Schily, who, before becoming a Social Democrat and interior minister, was a Green party activist and defense lawyer for leftist German terrorists, said the new Stasi revelations meant the case had to be "politically and juristically re-evaluated." (...)

The policeman, Karl-Heinz Kurras, is still alive. He's 81 years old and could face a new trial. Charges have already been brought against him by Carl-Wolfgang Holzapfel, head of an organization for the victims of Stalinism. (...) But, since the files apparently do not contain information suggesting that the Stasi explicitly ordered the liquidation of Ohnesorg, it is unlikely that Kurras would be convicted.26-year old Benno Ohnesorg was shot dead on June 2, 1967, after demonstrations protesting the visit of the Shah of Iran to Berlin had turned violent. (...)

Kurras who was a West German policeman (...) was tried for reckless manslaughter but acquitted due to a lack of evidence. After the shooting, the Stasi broke off communications with their spy in West Berlin in a final message which read: "Destroy all material. Cease work for now. Event is viewed as very regrettable accident." Jochen Staadt, a historian and head of research on the former East German communist party at Berlin's Free University, says that the mere possibility that the killing had been planned by the Stasi means that history will have to be re-written. (...) >>>

May 25, 2009
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Radio Praha: "Communist era plagues history teachers", by Christian Falvey

The anniversary of the fall of communism arouses every emotion in those who remember it, from celebration to rancour, and, for some, even nostalgia. A large part of the public however, the children, has never known anything other than a free market society. A skirmish of sorts is underway to define the way today’s youths understand the era. On one side of the debate is the Czech charity foundation People in Need, which has begun a programme in recent years using documentary film to address issues relating to the communist era. Spokesman Filip Šebek explains the incentive for the Stories of Injustice project and what it aims to achieve (...) >>>

Feb 21, 2009
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TRP: "Canadians Fight Back Against Bolshevism"

In a press release today, the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association (UCCLA) is calling on Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan to immediately de-naturalize and deport anyone living in Canada who was once a member of the KGB or any Soviet secret police organization. The UCCLA is responding in part to a November 12, 2008 story in the Vancouver Province in which former KGB officer Mikhail Lennikov and his family face deportation from Canada within four months unless Minister Van Loan intervenes. (...) >>>
Nov 21, 2008
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Aktualne: "Ex-Soviet dissident: We wanted our Prague Spring too"

(...) grandson of Stalin's foreign minister, former Soviet dissident and human rights advocate Pavel Litvinov (...) was one of the eight people who - 40 years ago today - gathered at Moscow's Red Square to rally against the Soviet Union-led invasion of Czechoslovakia by the armies of five Warsaw Pact countries. As reprimand, the regime sent him into exile in Siberia for five years.
In an interview for Aktuálně.cz, Litvinov not only looks back at the event which directly affected his entire life, but also explains why the so-called Prague Spring was so important to Soviet dissidents and why it is not possible to compare the latest Russian military action against Georgia with the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. >>>

Read also: Red Square protest against 1968 invasion remembered
Updated: 26th Aug. 2008
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BBC This day in 1997: East German leader guilty of Berlin Wall deaths"

A court in Berlin has sentenced the former East German leader, Egon Krenz, to six-and-a-half years in prison. Krenz, 59, was convicted of instigating a shoot-to-kill policy employed by border guards against people trying to flee East Germany. He was convicted on four specimen charges of incitement to manslaughter relating to people who were shot dead as they tried to escape to West Germany via the Berlin Wall. Two other former members of the East German leadership, Günther Kleiber and Günther Schabowski, were sentenced to three years in prison. Around 1,000 people were killed trying to escape to the West after the Berlin Wall went up in 1961 - it came down in 1989. (...) >>>

Updated: 25th Aug. 2008
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... while themselves hardly on trial (even rare cases of 'lustration' trigger reactions of 'witch hunt!'), communism is still jailing dissidents ...

BBC: "Belarus dissident leaves prison"

The former Belarussian opposition leader Alexander Kozulin has left prison and is on his way home to Minsk, his daughter says. It is not clear whether he has been freed permanently or only so he can attend his father-in-law's funeral. Mr Kozulin was jailed for five-and-a-half years in 2006 for staging protests against President Alexander Lukashenko. Mr Lukashenko had defeated Mr Kozulin in an election that international observers said was severely flawed. Reports have suggested that Mr Kozulin may have been pardoned. (...) >>>

Updated: 17th Aug. 2008
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... the comments section contains some wonderful personal anecdotes ...

BBC: "Alexander Solzhenitsyn dies at 89 "

Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who exposed Stalin's prison system in his novels and spent 20 years in exile, has died near Moscow at the age of 89. The author of The Gulag Archipelago and One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich, who returned to Russia in 1994, died of either a stroke or heart failure. (...) >>>

The Obituary includes video material: "... an old-fashioned moralist who saw the world in black and white" - relativists, being stripped of ethics as a philosophical field, fail to understand that a compromise between good and evil does not exist: a compromise in this case would be a mere 55 million victims of totalitarian experiments instead of the full 110 million; any consession would still be evil - "The good has nothing to gain from evil, evil has everything to gain from the good" --Ayn Rand

Townhall bloggerAlbert Mohler has an excellent biography. Another, Rich Lowry has an important observation sorely missed elsewhere: "In "The Gulag," he showed how the Soviet system wasn't perverted by Stalin in the 1930s, but was murderous from the beginning, the sulfurous spawn of a Vladimir Lenin determined to rid Russia "of all kinds of harmful insects." He argued convincingly that Soviet communism was as evil and destructive as Nazism. But the central insight of Solzhenitsyn's work is not political or historical, but moral."

The basis is an infernal concept thought up by the father of totalitarianism and prophet to all strains making up Postmodernism, the anti-modern philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau. His ideal politeia was a theo-fascist state at the agricultural level of development, not unlike today's Iran; the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany were secular renditions of this ideal: Rousseau's 'Common Will' at first glance looks like a synonym of the Libertarian Common Good, but it means the very opposite - it justifies coercing individuals to comply with the Will of the Collective.

Also, most MSM fail to stress the important point that, besides common criminals, the gulags were filled with political prisoners, rebels against the 'Common Will.'

Econ Blog: "The Best of Solzhenitsyn," by

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's passing reminds me of my favorite passage from his writings:
"But let us be generous. We will not shoot them. (...) But for the sake of our country and our children we have the duty to seek them all out and bring them all to trial! Not to put them on trial so much as their crimes. And to compel each one of them to announce loudly:
"Yes, I was an executioner and a murderer."
--The Gulag Archipelago

(...) Alas, three and a half decades after the publication of The Gulag Archipelago, it looks like we'll never see the Russian analog of the Nuremberg trials.

The Tributes on the BBC site

Updated: 4th Aug. 2008
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Accuracy in Media: "The Great Terror"

As a new edition of his illuminating book, The Great Terror, makes its way to the shelves, author Robert Conquest reflected back on the torrent of illuminating information about the former Soviet Union that has come out since the first edition was published four decades ago. Perhaps most shocking of all of Conquest’s revelations is that even members of the Soviet Politburo did not definitively know the truth about atrocities committed by the communist regime. This became the subject of much contentious debate under Mikhail Gorbachev. (...) Conquest writes that so much new information became openly available after 1989 that he was virtually forced to reexamine all of the facts and release a new edition of his book. (...) The essay promises that the third edition of Conquest’s book will be another step forward in exposing the reality of Stalin’s regime. >>>

Updated: 3rd Aug. 2008
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Prague Daily Monitor: "Communist intelligence records go online"

The Czech Archives of the Security Forces Friday published registration protocols of the former Communist military counter-intelligence (VKP) on its new website http://www.abscr.cz/, archives director Ladislav Bukovszky told journalists. The database contains 309 registration files on about 10,000 people. (...) many scandals were linked with the problems of the archives of the former Communist security forces. The documents contain data on the people in the whole former Czechoslovakia in whom the VKR was interested. "They could be persons under lustration and also agents," archives deputy director Martin Pulec said. In addition, there was also the VKR central registry in Prague, he said. The oldest of the published files comes from 1954 and the latest from 1989 when the communist regime fell in Czechoslovakia.
Individual people can be looked (...) >>>

Updated: 29th July 2008
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Signandsight: "Frankfurter Rundschau 17.07.2008"

Romanian-German writer Herta Müller writes an open letter to the head of the Romanian Cultural Institute, Horia Patapievici, protesting about his invitation to two former Securitate members to participate in the Berlin Summer Academy. "The ICR will do irreparable damage to its reputation by presenting itself in Berlin with these people, and German participants will be used to boost the image of informers. How will ICR employees introduce the Romanian participants to the other Summer Academy guests: Andrei Corbea-Hoisie – professor and long-time Securitate agent, and Sorin Antohi – who for years was a guest lecturer at European universities with his fake PhD and his fictitious publications and who had been an informer since the age of 19? And what will they tell the German press? Or more to the point: what won't they tell them?" >>>

Signandsight: "Deutsche Telekom surveillance"

The feuilletons have been curiously silent about this story but it is worth mentioning just the same. Germany is in the midst of a first-class spy scandal: (...) According to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the prosecutors "suspect that Telekom's spies are even monitoring the movements of individual journalists and board members. They accessed data from the Telekom's mobile phone subsidiary, T-Mobile, listing the precise locations in Germany where the Capital journalist Reinhard Kowalewsky met his alleged informant from the board of directors, the head of the worker's committee Wilhelm Wegner." According to a report in the Financial Times Deutschland, former Stasi employees helped in the surveillance. In die Zeit, Götz Hamann calls for a clear agreement on data transparency. "The further technology advances, the greater the temptations – and the abuse. Liberal societies have to redefine what should be allowed and what not. Where does the responsibility of the individual lie? And that of business - and the state?" >>>

Updated: 18th July 2008
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BBC: "EU to lift sanctions against Cuba"

The European Union is to lift sanctions imposed on Cuba in 2003 in protest at the imprisonment of more than 70 Cuban dissidents by the Castro government. (...) Several leading Cuban dissidents have criticised the decision. (...) Cuba will see this move as a vindication of their hardball diplomacy. (...) Venezuela, which supplies billions of dollars worth of oil in exchange for Cuban doctors, and China, which buys considerable amounts of Cuba's nickel, are much more important trading partners than Europe. Cuban government sources told the BBC the decision to lift sanctions would benefit the EU more than Cuba since it showed that Brussels could have a foreign policy independent of the US, our correspondent says. (...) >>>

Updated: 20th June 2008
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BBC: "Lithuanian ban on Soviet symbols"

Lithuania's parliament has passed the toughest restrictions anywhere in the former Soviet Union on the public display of Soviet and Nazi symbols. It will now be an offence in the Baltic state to display the images of Soviet and Nazi leaders. This includes flags, emblems and badges carrying insignia, such as the hammer and sickle or swastika. Correspondents say equating Soviet and Nazi symbols in this way is certain to infuriate Russia. (...) Moscow's official interpretation of history is that Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia were liberated from Nazi Germany by, then voluntarily joined, the Soviet Union. This account is rejected by those three Baltic States and most other European nations, says our correspondent. They believe the Soviet Union illegally occupied the Baltic republics as a result of a secret agreement - the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact - between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. The occupation continued until the collapse of the Soviet state itself at the end of 1991. (...) >>>

Updated: 18th June 2008
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Southeast European Times: "Six former Romanian communist officials accused of terrorism", by Paul Ciocoiu in Bucharest

Romanian state researchers filed a criminal complaint with the country's Supreme Court on November 7th against the former head of Romania's Foreign Intelligence Centre and five former Romanian diplomats, alleging they committed acts of terrorism in the 1980s. Historians at the state-run Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes in Romania (IICCR) accused General Nicolae Plesita and the former diplomats -- Dan Mihoc, Constantin Ciobanu, Ion Constantin, Ioan Lupu and Ion Grecu -- of attempting to murder Romanian opposition leaders in Western Europe in 1981.

(...) the IICCR included the following charges in their complaint against the five men: first degree manslaughter, attempted murder, kidnapping, physical and psychological abuse, violation of the laws regarding the use of explosive materials, and the use of forgery in official documents.

As part of a bid to eliminate the regime's opponents, devices were disguised as letters and sent by mail to three well-known exiles -- Paul Goma, Nicolae Penescu and Serban Orescu. Evidence also implicates the suspects in other terrorist attacks, toxic gas assaults, and the kidnapping and assassination of other people.
Plesita is already under investigation for hiring terrorist Ilyich Ramirez Sanchez, also known as Carlos the Jackal, to murder Romanian dissidents. >>>

Dated: 7th Dec. 2007

Related:

"The People's Tools": Communist Revisionism for Dummies

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