While justice for victims of the Holocaust came rather easily as it gathered loudly decisive support and focus in the international community (including the current and former communist countries), the victims of World War II (and after) communist crimes overwhelmingly got left behind, ignored, denied justice, suppressed by the same international community. And yet, the number of communist crime victims was much larger; the communist crimes although different in modus operandi were equally brutal and inhumane as exterminating the Jews were!
Honouring the victims of communist crimes has been an arduous, painstaking road for the relatively few individual groups who had kept the candle burning for these victims over the past decades, hoping for justice. In simple terms, the arduousness of this road had undoubtedly been made so because communism thrived in many countries while major Allied powers (Britain, United States of America) had sins of collaborating with the mass murderer, Russia’s Joseph Stalin (and thus other communist powers such as Yugoslavia), to suppress.
While declarations condemning communist crimes had gathered pace in recent past in the European Union parliament as well as the former communist countries of Europe (Croatia was one of them), justice for victims of these crimes continues to feel like arduous carving out of that part of human morality that should, in normal circumstances, simply pop out naturally. Stumbling blocks obstructing the path to justice for victims of these crimes have included a strong lobby that keeps vigilant in emphasising (often insistently) that victims of the Holocaust are the most important victims of human history that must never be repeated.
Justice can indeed be selfish, and this is wrong – the human heart must be open to embrace justice for all.
But, one cannot it seems, embark on pursuing justice for communist crimes without that process being meddled with by memories of victims of the Holocaust – never the other way around.
The time has come when someone needs to thrust justice for victims of communist crimes to the forefront if 20th Century human history, that divides nations to bitter degrees, will at all be reconciled; give it “unpolluted” moments of attention it needs and deserves.
The 2012 UEFA European Football Championship, Euro 2012, is currently on track -the final tournament is being hosted by Poland and Ukraine 6 June – 1 July.
Unlike the representative teams from England, Germany, Italy and Netherlands the Croatian team has announced that it will not be visiting Auschwitz to pay respects to the victims of the Holocaust, but instead, Croatia’s football president Vlatko Markovic said that Croatian team will visit and pay respect to the memorial of victims of communist crimes.
Katyn forest massacre occurred in April/May1940 under the command of the Soviet ministry of internal affairs when about 22,000 Polish nationals were murdered, among them thousands of Polish Army officers, police, lawyers, landowners…
The government of Nazi Germany announced the discovery of mass graves in the Katyn Forest in 1943. London-based Polish government in exile at the time asked for an investigation by the International Red Cross. Russia’s Joseph Stalin wasn’t going to have any of that; he blamed the mass murders on the Nazis. The Soviet Union continued denying responsibility for the Katyn massacres until 1990, and it distanced itself from them by claiming massacres were perpetrated by the “then” ministry of internal affairs.
Markovic’s announcement that Croatia’s football representation would visit memorial for communist crimes, instead of memorial for victims of the Holocaust, brought about some comments and criticisms by historians Ivo Goldstein and Tvrtko Jakovina who say that the Croatian football team should also visit the memorial of victims of the Holocaust.
Markovic did say that he had visited memorial centres of Holocaust victims many times in the past and, certainly, his decision to give memorial centres of communist crimes a priority at this time can only be seen as a positive move for the path to sincere justice for the victims of communism.
A second world stage that will elevate and dedicate justice for victims of communist crimes must be raised and this is one potent way of doing it. The stage for justice for the victims of the Holocaust had been raised and built a long time ago; it’s time to raise a second stage – this time for victims of communist crimes.
The UK Telegraph reports that the UK football team had visited Auschwitz Museum.
“Everyone should come here to understand what happened,” said Roy Hodgson, manager of England team.
The world would be a much better and just place if such statements of worldwide impact were also expressed about the thousands of memorial places for victims of communist crimes, for thousands of mass graves left by the communists.
“According to the Black Book of Communism, a study of repression authored by European academics, over 100 million people have died from persecution by communist regimes.
While there’s political consensus in the European Parliament on the issue, there is still a need for an international legal framework, like the kind used in trials against Nazi perpetrators”.
The victims of communist crimes deserve the dignity afforded to victims of other political regimes such as the Nazi. Croatia has been one of the countries that have bowed deeply, honouring the victims of Fascism and Nazism, almost exhaustingly and it must do the same for victims of communist crimes. It must perhaps be a leader in this and, in this context the brave move by Markovic can only be applauded. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)
Upcoming or recent events honouring victims of communist crimes:
June 12, Washington DC – Wreath laying ceremony to honour the victims of communism worldwide; tribute to Donald Rumsfeld and Gulag exhibit preview
June 5 – Brussels, EU Parliament – conference “Legal settlement of communist crimes”