On September 19, the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, passed a resolution on the Importance of European remembrance for the future of Europe. For the first time, an international organization officially judged National-Socialism and Communism by the same moral standard.
Of course, everyone knows how evil Nazism was, and how obnoxious is any kind of neo-Nazi resurgence. People have learned to hate and fight the Nazi idea, and combat neo-Nazism from the cradle.
The same cannot be said, however, of Communism, which, for two main reasons, for a long time has been presented as a lesser evil.
First, because the Communist Soviet Union joined the Western Allies in the military effort against Nazi Germany in World War II.
Second, because Soviet-directed regimes were in power in many Central and Eastern European countries after the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945 and were thus able to control the historical memory of large portions of the non-Soviet world through a clever use of propaganda.
But Communism is no lesser evil. It has harassed, tormented, unjustly jailed, tortured and killed innocent human beings just like Nazism. Entire populations have been deported, sovereign countries dismembered, once independent nations militarily occupied. The Soviet Gulag has paralleled the Nazi lager in cruelty. Cynicism in war and peace has been always the rule for both ideologies. The totalitarian management of occupied societies has been the same.
And persecution of Jews took place also in Soviet Russia. Svetlana Alliluyeva (born Svetlana Iosifovna Stalina, 1926-2011), the daughter of Stalin (Iosif Vissarionovič Džugašvili, 1878-1953), acknowledged it in her 1969 Only One Year: A Memoir. Louis Rapoport (1942-1991), an American writer and senior editor of The Jerusalem Post, documented the persecution in his Stalin’s War Against the Jews: The Doctors’ Plot and the Soviet Solution (New York: Free Press, 1990). German writer and journalist Arno Lustiger (1924-2012) confirmed that Jews were persecuted in Stalinist Russia in his Stalin And The Jews: The Red Book (New York: Enigma, 2004).
Several scholars insisted, with different arguments, on the intellectual kinship between the two faces of 20th Century European socialism, “national” socialism i.e. Nazism, and “international” socialism, i.e. Communism. Although it is a niche or even a fringe phenomenon, the existence of the so-called “Nazi-Bolshevik” ideology, a resurgent temptation and a syncretism between Nazism and Communism, testifies to it significantly.
It is then all the more important that the most authoritative political institution of Europe, the land where Nazism and Soviet Communism showed their worse colours, put these two monstrous ideologies at the same level in “the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War, which led to unprecedented levels of human suffering and the occupation of countries in Europe for many decades to come.”
In fact, “whereas although the crimes of the Nazi regime were evaluated and punished by means of the Nuremberg trials, there is still an urgent need to raise awareness, carry out moral assessments and conduct legal inquiries into the crimes of Stalinism and other dictatorships.”
For this reason, the resolution calls for a rejuvenated historical memory that will stop separating supposedly “first rate crimes” and “second rate crimes,” by establishing not one but actually two days of public remembrance.
One is August 23 which will be the European Day of Remembrance for the victims of totalitarian regimes at both EU and national level. The date was chosen because it marks the anniversary of the 1939 Treaty of Non-Aggression signed by Communist Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. This was known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, whose secret protocols divided Europe and the territories of independent states between the two totalitarian regimes and grouped them into spheres of interest, paving the way for the outbreak of World War II.
The second is May 25, the anniversary of the execution of Polish officer Witold Pilecki (1901-1948), which will be established as International Day of Heroes of the Fight against Totalitarianism.
Commander Pilecki was a great hero, unfortunately an unsung one; a hero of humanity, decency, and mercy, as well as of Christianity. The son of a noble family, he was a devout Catholic known among his peasants for his humane treatment of laborers. He enrolled in the Polish army out of the purest patriotic ideal to fight the occupying Nazis. Then he had the idea of entering, voluntarily yet in disguise, Auschwitz to gather news from inside. He did, and he also managed to escape, the only one who ever succeeded. He passed on the information he had gathered to the legitimate Polish government exiled in London, but British bureaucracy didn’t act, and Auschwitz never became a primary objective of the Allied armies.
Pilecki fought on in the anti-Nazi Polish resistance, taking part in the famous, and ill-fated, 1944 Warsaw insurgency with the Armia Krajowa or AK, the secret Polish National Army. Then came Soviet rule after the war, and Pilecki was considered an enemy: too patriotic, too Catholic, too anti-Communist. He continued gathering evidence, this time of Communist brutality. He was thus hunted, but once again fooled his enemies for a long time. In the spring of 1948, however, the Soviets caught and killed him by putting a bullet in his neck in a secret Warsaw prison after a kangaroo trial. He was buried in an unknown place, probably near the trash cans of Warsaw’s Powazki cemetery.
What about China?
Now, in face of these equal horrors who would dare to show, flag and wear a Nazi swastika or a Communist hammer and sickle? After the European Parliament has condemned both Nazism and Communism, revisionist history should have no place in Europe.
But what about China? Maoism and Stalinism were parallel and chain-connected regimes. China still officially adopts a Communist ideology. In China, Communist symbols are displayed with impunity and Communists rule proudly calling themselves Communist with no shame. The magazine that I edit, Bitter Winter, doesn’t deal with politics, as we concentrate on our mission of defending religious liberty and human rights.
But it is fully in the name of Communism, now equated to Nazism by the European Parliament, that China harshly persecutes ethnic minorities and religious groups of all sort, imprisoning people with no trial, harassing them, torturing them, deporting them in millions, jailing them in concentration camps, trying to get rid of entire peoples, killing them and even using, like the Nazi executioners who massacred the Jews, the idea of a “final solution” for the persecuted.
How can China boast of Communism, if Communism is just the other name of Nazi-like horrors?
Marco Respinti is an Italian professional journalist, essayist, translator, and lecturer. He is Director-in-Charge of The Journal of CESNUR and Bitter Winter. This article has been republished with permission from Bitter Winter.