Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation
|Type||Educational and Human Rights|
|Key people||George W. Bush, Honorary Chairman
Lee Edwards, Chairman
Jay Katzen, President
Ed Priola, Director of Public Affairs
The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation is a non-profit educational organization in the United States, established as a result of an Act of Congress in 1993 with the purpose to commemorate "the deaths of over 100,000,000 victims in an unprecedented imperial communist holocaust". Its name is derived from the Victims of Communism Memorial in Washington, D.C. It is a member of the Platform of European Memory and Conscience.
In 1991, Senator Steve Symms and Representative Dana Rohrabacher introduced concurring resolutions in the United States Congress urging the construction of "an International Memorial to the Victims of Communism at an appropriate location within the boundaries of the District of Columbia and for the appointment of a commission to oversee the design, construction and all other pertinent details of the memorial." In 1993, Rohrabacher and Senator Jesse Helms sponsored amendments which authorized such construction into the FRIENDSHIP Act. The Act was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on December 17, 1993.
According to Title IX, Section 905 of Public Law 103-199, the National Captive Nations Committee, Inc. (NCNC) was to establish an independent organization to construct, maintain and operate the Victims of Communism Memorial in Washington, DC, as well as to collect the contributions for the establishment of the memorial and to encourage the participation of all groups suffered under Communism.
The Foundation, chaired by Lee Edwards, was established by the NCNC due to a caveat in the establishing law that required that no government funds be used to construct the memorial. The original plans for the Foundation included raising $100 million for a museum and memorial. The museum, originally planned to be housed in the Tariff Commission Building in Washington, DC, was to have a Hall of Heroes featuring statues of notable anti-communists, a section of the Berlin Wall, a re-creation of a gulag, and a large statue of the Goddess of Democracy. By 1999 only $500,000 had been raised. Major donors to the Foundation include the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, Eagle Publishing Chairman Thomas L. Phillips, the Pew Charitable Trusts, and the Earhart Foundation. The Foundation annually presents its Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom at an event which honors opponents of communism, and has been used to raise funds for the construction of the memorial.
The memorial was dedicated on June 12, 2007 - the 20th anniversary of President Ronald Reagan's "Tear down this wall" speech in Berlin. The unveiling of the statue in Washington DC brought international press attention to both the Victims of Communism Memorial and the Foundation.
An ongoing project of the Foundation is the internet-based Global Museum on Communism. Among other exhibits and facitities, the Museum provides an interactive registry to collect the personal stories of the victims of communism.
The national advisory council includes David Manker Abshire, Robert Conquest, Dennis DeConcini, Bob Dole, Edwin Feulner, Paul Hollander, William Eldridge Odom, Richard Pipes, Rudolph Rummel, John K. Singlaub, and George Weigel. Former (deceased) members include Jack Kemp.
The international advisory council includes Sali Berisha, Vladimir Bukovsky, Emil Constantinescu, Árpád Göncz, Mart Laar, Vytautas Landsbergis, Guntis Ulmanis, Lech Wałęsa, Armando Valladares, and Harry Wu. Former members include Brian Crozier, Yelena Bonner and Václav Havel.
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- "National Advisory Council". Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. Archived from the original on 2011-05-20. Retrieved 2011-05-20.
- "International Advisory Council". Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. Archived from the original on 2011-05-20. Retrieved 2011-05-20.