Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation

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Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation
Founded1994
Founders
TypeNon-profit
52-1920858
FocusAnti-communism
Location
Key people
Websitevictimsofcommunism.org

The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOC) is a non-profit anti-communist organization in the United States, authorized by a unanimous Act of Congress in 1993 for the purpose of "educating Americans about the ideology, history and legacy of communism."[3]

The organization was responsible for building the Victims of Communism Memorial in Washington, D.C. It is a member of the European Union's Platform of European Memory and Conscience.

History[edit]

In 1991, Republican Senator Steve Symms and Representative Dana Rohrabacher introduced concurrent 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."[4][5]

In 1993, Rohrabacher and fellow Republican Senator Jesse Helms sponsored amendments to the FRIENDSHIP Act of 1993 which authorized such construction.[6] The act was signed into law by Democratic President Bill Clinton on December 17, 1993.[7] It cited "the deaths of over 100,000,000 victims in an unprecedented imperial holocaust" and resolved that "the sacrifices of these victims should be permanently memorialized so that never again will nations and peoples allow so evil a tyranny to terrorize the world."[3]

The Victims of Communism Memorial is a recreation of the "Goddess of Democracy", which was destroyed in Tiananmen Square by the government of the People's Republic of China

According to Title IX, Section 905 of Public Law 103–199, an independent organization was to be established to construct, maintain, and operate the Victims of Communism Memorial in Washington, D.C., as well as to collect the contributions for the establishment of the memorial and to encourage the participation of all groups suffered under Communist regimes.[8] In 2007, the foundation completed the Victims of Communism Memorial, which was dedicated by Republican President George W. Bush.[9] In 2016, the foundation released a list of 51 prisoners of conscience in Cuba just before Democratic President Barack Obama visit and meeting with Cuban leader Raúl Castro.[10] In 2020, the organization released a report alleging organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners and Uyghurs in China.[11]

Programs[edit]

Victims of Communism Memorial[edit]

The memorial was dedicated on June 12, 2007, the 20th anniversary of Republican President Ronald Reagan's "Tear down this wall" speech in Berlin. The unveiling of the statue in Washington DC earned international press attention.[12]

The land was a gift of the National Park Service, and the remaining cost, over $1 million, was raised from private sources.[13] Sculpted by Thomas Marsh, it is a 10-foot bronze replica of the Papier-mâché Goddess of Democracy statue made by student democracy protesters leading up to the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989.[14]

Museum[edit]

The foundation aims to build a museum in Washington, D.C.[1] The foundation is working on a proposed budget for a museum near the National Mall, and has received a $1 million grant toward the museum from the government of Hungary.[15] Plans for the museum include exhibit space, an auditorium, archives, and resident scholars.[16][17] The museum opened on June 13, 2022.[18]

Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom[edit]

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.[19] Past recipients include Myroslav Marynovych, Chen Guangcheng, Tom Lantos, Pope John Paul II, Vaclav Havel, Yang Jianli, Thadeus Nguyễn Văn Lý, Yelena Bonner, William F. Buckley Jr., Richard Pipes, Guillermo Fariñas, Lane Kirkland, Armando Valladares, János Horváth, Lech Wałęsa, Anna Walentynowicz, National Endowment for Democracy, and Henry M. Jackson.[19][20][21][22]

Projects[edit]

In 2015, the foundation released a biopic video series called Witness Project, featuring interviews with witnesses of communism.[23] Other projects include national seminars for high-school teachers and for college campuses.[24]

Lobbying[edit]

The foundation opposed the Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity Clarification Act on the grounds that it would protect unlawfully acquired artwork held by Russian museums.[25]

People[edit]

VOC's chairman is Edwin Feulner, founder and former president of the American conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation. Its chairman emeritus and co-founder is scholar Lee Edwards,[2] a founding member of the conservative youth activism organization Young Americans for Freedom[26] and distinguished fellow at The Heritage Foundation.[27] Lev Dobriansky, economics professor and chairman of the anti-communist National Captive Nations Committee, previously served as chairman emeritus.[2][28]

Jay K. Katzen, former Republican member of the Virginia House of Delegates, was the foundation's president from June 2003 until his death in April 2020.[29] Andrew Bremberg, former department manager for federally funded not-for-profit defence research contractor MITRE and former director of the Domestic Policy Council for U.S. President Donald Trump,[30] was appointed as president and CEO on 30 Mar 2021.[31]

The national advisory council includes Dennis DeConcini, John Earl Haynes, and George Weigel. Former or deceased members include Robert Conquest, Richard Pipes, Rudolph Rummel, Jack Kemp, Paul Hollander, and John K. Singlaub.[32] The international advisory council includes Sali Berisha, Emil Constantinescu, Mart Laar, Vytautas Landsbergis, Guntis Ulmanis, Armando Valladares, and Lech Walesa. Former members include Yelena Bonner, Vladimir Bukovsky, Brian Crozier, Árpád Göncz, and Václav Havel.[32]

Reception[edit]

According to Kristen Ghodsee and Scott Sehon, the estimate of 100 million dead favored by the organization is dubious, as their source for this is the introduction to The Black Book of Communism by Stéphane Courtois[33] which has attracted praise but also criticism from historians. Ghodsee and Sehon write that while "quibbling about numbers is unseemly. What matters is that many, many people were killed by communist regimes." Ghodsee posits that the foundation, along with counterpart conservative and anti-communist organizations in Eastern Europe, seeks to institutionalize the "Victims of Communism" narrative as a double genocide theory, or the moral equivalence between the Nazi Holocaust (race murder) and those killed by Communist regimes (class murder).[33][34]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Smith, Dinitia (December 23, 1995). "For the Victims of Communism". The New York Times. Archived from the original on September 24, 2019. Retrieved November 4, 2009.
  2. ^ a b c "Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation Announces New Board Leadership". Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. December 30, 2020. Archived from the original on February 5, 2021.
  3. ^ a b Rauch, Jonathan (December 2003). "The Forgotten Millions". The Atlantic. Archived from the original on October 11, 2008. Retrieved November 4, 2009.
  4. ^ "S. Con. Res. 55". thomas.loc.gov. Library of Congress. July 26, 1991. Archived from the original on July 4, 2016. Retrieved November 5, 2009.
  5. ^ "H. Con. Res. 228". thomas.loc.gov. Library of Congress. 1991. Archived from the original on July 20, 2012. Retrieved November 5, 2009.
  6. ^ "U.S. Laws Catch Up to the New Russia". The New York Times. November 29, 1993. Archived from the original on May 26, 2015. Retrieved November 5, 2009.
  7. ^ "Bill Summary and Status". Library of Congress. December 17, 1993. Archived from the original on July 31, 2012. Retrieved November 5, 2009.
  8. ^ "Public Law 103-199". United States Congress. Archived from the original on June 14, 2011. Retrieved November 3, 2009 – via Mega.nu.
  9. ^ "China Blasts Bush Tribute to Victims of Communism". Reuters. June 13, 2007. Archived from the original on March 6, 2016. Retrieved May 18, 2016.
  10. ^ Rhodan, Maya (March 21, 2016). "Advocates List Cuba's Political Prisoners After Castro Says There Are None". Time. Archived from the original on May 17, 2016. Retrieved May 18, 2016.
  11. ^ Lipes, Joshua (March 12, 2020). "Uyghur, Falun Gong Detainees Likely Source for China's Organ Market: Report". Radio Free Asia. Archived from the original on March 16, 2020. Retrieved March 16, 2020.
  12. ^ "Bush Blames 100 Million Deaths on Communists". Kommersant. June 13, 2007. Archived from the original on October 10, 2012. Retrieved May 18, 2016.
  13. ^ Butler, Don (March 6, 2015). "A tale of Two Monuments: Washington vs. Ottawa". Ottawa Citizen. Archived from the original on May 3, 2016. Retrieved May 18, 2016.
  14. ^ Miller, John (December 12, 2005). "Memorial Day: Honoring the victims of Communism". The National Review. Archived from the original on September 18, 2009. Retrieved November 4, 2009.
  15. ^ Kilmas, Jacqueline (June 17, 2014). "Cold War Casualties of Communism Seek Museum on National Mall". The Washington Times. Archived from the original on June 3, 2016. Retrieved May 18, 2016.
  16. ^ Last, Jonathan (December 1, 2014). "First a Memorial, Then a Museum". The Weekly Standard. Archived from the original on June 1, 2016. Retrieved May 18, 2016.
  17. ^ Kirchick, James (August 25, 2014). "Communism's Victims Deserve a Museum". The Daily Beast. Archived from the original on April 21, 2016. Retrieved May 18, 2016.
  18. ^ Salai, Sean (May 31, 2022). "Victims of Communism Museum to open in nation's capital". The Washington Times. Archived from the original on May 31, 2022. Retrieved June 11, 2022.
  19. ^ a b Clyne, Meghan (December 13, 2005). "D.C. Monument To Be Built In Honor of Victims of Communism". The New York Sun. Archived from the original on June 14, 2011. Retrieved November 4, 2009.
  20. ^ Nordlinger, Jay (July 25, 2014). "Sweet Solidarity, Part II". National Review. Archived from the original on June 10, 2016. Retrieved May 18, 2016.
  21. ^ "Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom". Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. Archived from the original on April 24, 2016. Retrieved May 18, 2016.
  22. ^ "Chinese Dissident Receives Political Award in Washington". Asia Times. November 16, 2015. Archived from the original on November 7, 2015. Retrieved May 18, 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  23. ^ Abigail Clevenger (May 8, 2014). "What About Communism". Philanthropy Daily. Archived from the original on October 28, 2016. Retrieved May 24, 2016.
  24. ^ "Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation Programs". www.guidestar.org. Archived from the original on August 2, 2019. Retrieved August 2, 2019.
  25. ^ Gwoździewicz-Matan, Paulina; Jakubowski, Andrzej (2019). "Enhancing the mobility of collections and access to cultural heritage: immunity of cultural objects from seizure in Poland". International Journal of Cultural Policy. 25 (3): 350–362. doi:10.1080/10286632.2017.1284827. S2CID 157736409.
  26. ^ Olmstead, Gracy. "Lee Edwards: When the 'New Right' Was New". The American Conservative. Archived from the original on August 14, 2020. Retrieved June 6, 2020.
  27. ^ "Lee Edwards, Ph.D." The Heritage Foundation. Archived from the original on June 3, 2020. Retrieved June 6, 2020.
  28. ^ Holley, Joe (February 6, 2008). "Lev E. Dobriansky, 89; Professor and Foe of Communism". Washington Post.
  29. ^ "Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation Launches Search for New CEO". Victims of Communism. January 20, 2021. Archived from the original on January 26, 2021. Retrieved January 31, 2021.
  30. ^ Michael Shear (May 2, 2017). "Trump Discards Obama Legacy, One Rule at a Time". The New York Times. p. A1. Retrieved November 29, 2021.
  31. ^ "Amb. Andrew Bremberg appointed as new president and CEO of Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation". Victims of Communism. March 30, 2021. Archived from the original on May 13, 2021. Retrieved November 29, 2021.
  32. ^ a b "Board & Advisory Councils". Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. Archived from the original on March 25, 2016. Retrieved May 18, 2016.
  33. ^ a b Ghodsee, Kristen; Sehon, Scott; Dresser, Sam, ed. (March 22, 2018). "The merits of taking an anti-anti-communism stance". Archived September 25, 2018, at the Wayback Machine. Aeon. Retrieved February 11, 2020.
  34. ^ Ghodsee, Kristen (Fall 2014). "A Tale of 'Two Totalitarianisms': The Crisis of Capitalism and the Historical Memory of Communism". Archived November 22, 2020, at the Wayback Machine. History of the Present: A Journal of Critical History. 4 (2): 116–117, 136. doi:10.5406/historypresent.4.2.0115. JSTOR 10.5406/historypresent.4.2.0115.

Further reading[edit]

  • Neumayer, Laure (2018). "Introduction". The Criminalisation of Communism in the European Political Space after the Cold War. London: Routledge. ISBN 9781351141741.

External links[edit]