Victims of Communism Memorial
|Beginning date||September 27, 2006|
|Opening date||June 12, 2007|
The Victims of Communism Memorial is a memorial in Washington, D.C. located at the intersection of Massachusetts and New Jersey Avenues and G Street, NW, two blocks from Union Station and within view of the U.S. Capitol.
The memorial is dedicated "to the more than one hundred million victims of communism". The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation says the purpose of the memorial is to ensure "that the history of communist tyranny will be taught to future generations."
The Victims of Communism Memorial was dedicated by President George W. Bush on June 12, 2007, the 20th anniversary of President Ronald Reagan's "tear down this wall" speech in front of the Berlin Wall.
The Memorial features a ten-foot (3 m) bronze replica from photographs, of the Goddess of Democracy, erected by students during the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. The monument's design and the statue are works of sculptor Thomas Marsh. He led a project in 1994, to re-create the Goddess of Democracy in Chinatown, San Francisco. The inscription reads:
(front) To the more than one hundred million victims of communism and to those who love liberty
(rear) To the freedom and independence of all captive nations and peoples
A bill, H.R. 3000, sponsored by Representatives Dana Rohrabacher and Tom Lantos and Senators Claiborne Pell and Jesse Helms, to authorize the memorial passed unanimously on December 17, 1993 and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton, becoming Public Law 103-199 Section 905. It was backed by prominent conservatives including Lev E. Dobriansky, Grover Norquist, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and Lee Edwards. Because of delays in establishing the memorial, the authorization was subsequently extended through Section 326 of Public Law 105–277, approved October 21, 1998, until December 17, 2007. The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation has the duty of funding and directing the first stages of planning the memorial.
In November 2005, the National Capital Planning Commission gave approval to the monument's design. After raising over US$825,000 for construction and maintenance costs, the groundbreaking ceremony was held September 27, 2006.
On June 12, 2007, the memorial was officially dedicated. Among the hundreds of invited guests were people from many countries who suffered hardships under Communist regimes, such as Vietnamese poet Nguyen Chi Thien, Chinese political prisoner Harry Wu, Lithuanian anti-communist journalist Nijolė Sadūnaitė and others. During the opening ceremony, President George W. Bush named some of those who suffered from Communism in anonymity:
They include innocent Ukrainians starved to death in Stalin's Great Famine; or Russians killed in Stalin's purges; Lithuanians and Latvians and Estonians loaded onto cattle cars and deported to Arctic death camps of Soviet Communism. They include Chinese killed in the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution; Cambodians slain in Pol Pot's Killing Fields; East Germans shot attempting to scale the Berlin Wall in order to make it to freedom; Poles massacred in the Katyn Forest; and Ethiopians slaughtered in the "Red Terror"; Miskito Indians murdered by Nicaragua's Sandinista dictatorship; and Cuban balseros who drowned escaping tyranny.
President Bush also said, "We'll never know the names of all who perished, but at this sacred place, communism's unknown victims will be consecrated to history and remembered forever. We dedicate this memorial because we have an obligation to those who died, to acknowledge their lives and honor their memory." Bush equated communism to the threat of terrorism then facing the U.S.: "Like the Communists, the terrorists and radicals who have attacked our nation are followers of a murderous ideology that despises freedom, crushes all dissent, has expansionist ambitions and pursues totalitarian aims."
On the first anniversary, there was another ceremony by the International Committee for Crimea. On June 9, 2011, a second commemoration ceremony was held with representatives of ethnic and religious groups who suffered under communist regimes.
The Chicago Tribune reported the statue drew criticism from the Chinese embassy because the memorial evokes the Tiananmen Square protests. A Chinese foreign ministry speaker accused the US of pushing a "Cold War" thought and meddling in China's internal affairs, and issued a formal protest.The embassy called its construction an "attempt to defame China." The chairman of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, conservative scholar Lee Edwards, said he was not aware of any official complaint.
Professor Andrei Tsygankov of San Francisco State University identifies the building of the statue as an expression of the anti-Russia lobby in Washington. He identifies it as a revival of Cold War symbolism.
According to Professor Shi Yinhong of the Center of American Studies at the People's University of China, the monument was inappropriate: "In the history of socialist countries such as China and the Soviet Union, there were many dramatic events. In the capitalist countries, many bad things have also happened, but we do not erect monuments to the victims of capitalism."
A week after the unveiling of the monument and the speeches during the event, Russian President Vladimir Putin responded: "We have not used nuclear weapons against a civilian population. We have not sprayed thousands of kilometers with chemicals, or dropped on a small country seven times more bombs than in all the Great Patriotic War."
Russian politician and legislator Gennady Zyuganov, leader of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, said that U.S. President Bush's appearance before the unveiling of the monument was a "clumsy propaganda attempt to divert the world public opinion's attention from the true, bloody crimes of U.S. imperialism in general and the current administration in the White House in particular." Zyuganov also added that the monument was inappropriate: "How can an American president open it given the blood of civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Serbs in Kosovo, Guantanamo Bay, as well as CIA prisons in Eastern Europe are part of the black list of crimes of the globalists."
In 2007 in Ukraine, there was a response to open a museum for American imperialism in Simferopol. Communist Party leader Leonid Grach stated: "[It] Is our response to George Bush, who opened the Victims of Communism Memorial in Washington, and to [pro-Western Ukrainian President] Viktor Yushchenko, who initiated the construction of the Museum of Soviet occupation in Kiev." The museum focused on the repression of Native Americans, slavery, and racism. The museum also highlights interventions in foreign countries.
In 2021, an internet fundraiser for the construction of a memorial in Ottawa for the victims of the communist regimes, showed that among these there were fascists and Nazi collaborators. The General Committee of United Croats of Canada bought some of these "virtual bricks" to dedicate to several members of the fascist Ustasha organization, which was a puppet state of Nazi Germany, including its leader Ante Pavelic. The League of Ukrainian Canadians, instead, purchased some bricks in honour of Roman Shukhevych, one of the leaders of the ultra-nationalist Ukrainian Insurgent Army and one of the organizers of the Galicia-Volhynia Massacres of approximately 100,000 Poles. The monument has received the support from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
- Cold War
- Communist terrorism
- Criticisms of communism
- Criticisms of Communist party rule
- Great Leap Forward
- Great Purge
- List of public art in Washington, D.C., Ward 6
- Mass killings under Communist regimes
- Memorial of the Victims of Communism and of the Resistance
- Museum of Soviet occupation
- Red Terror
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- Monika Bončkutė (14 June 2007). "Monumento komunizmo aukoms atidarymo iškilmėse-ir kovotojai už Lietuvos laisvę". Lyrtas.com News. Retrieved 2011-07-26.(In Lithuanian)
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- Fekeiki, Omar (June 13, 2007). "The Toll of Communism". The Washington Post. p. C01. Retrieved May 27, 2010.
- "The First Anniversary of the Victims of Communism Memorial". International Committee for Crimea. 25 June 2008. Retrieved 2011-07-26.
- Neil W. McCabe (7 June 2011). "Victims of Communism Remembered at June 9 Wreath Laying". Human Events. Retrieved 2011-07-26.
- Falk, Leora (June 12, 2007). "New DC memorial dedicated to communism's victims". Chicago Tribune.[dead link]
- "China blasts Bush tribute to victims of communism". Reuters. 13 June 2007. Retrieved 2011-07-26.
- Andrei P. Tsygankov. Russophobia: anti-Russian lobby and American foreign policy. Macmillan, 2009. p.55
- "Вести Недели : США диктуют условия". vesti7.ru. Archived from the original on 17 April 2015. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
- "Новости NEWSru.com :: Зюганов назвал Буша символом государственного терроризма". newsru.com. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
- Korrespondent (21 August 2007). "В Симферополе открыли Музей памяти жертв американского империализма". korrespondent.net. Retrieved 29 September 2021.
- "Victims of communism memorial received donations honouring fascists, Nazi collaborators, according to website". cbc.ca. 2021-07-23.
- Rudling, Anders (2016). "The Cult of Roman Shukhevych in Ukraine: Myth Making with Complications" (PDF). Fascism. 5 (1): 26–65. doi:10.1163/22116257-00501003.Rudling, Per A.The Cult of Roman Shukhevych in Ukraine//Fascism: Journal of Comparative Fascist Studies, p. 56
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Victims of Communism Memorial in Washington.|
- Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation
- VOCMF Global Museum on Communism
- Quin Hillyer, "The Victims of Communism Memorial", The American Spectator, June 8, 2007
- Philip Kennicott, "The Meaning of a Marker For 100 Million Victims", The Washington Post, June 13, 2007
- Bill Van Auken, "Bush, Democrats resurrect anticommunism in service of US “war on terror”", World Socialist Website, June 24, 2007
- Thomas Marsh website