Congressman Chris Smith
(R-NJ) and other members of Congress this week marked the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on Nov. 7, and the 100-year mark of the birth of the Bolshevik Revolution on Nov. 9.
“When I was elected to Congress, the extremely dark cloud of communism hung over the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and many places in Latin America and Asia," said Smith. "Every communist country was a significant threat to peace and security. Communist governments victimized their own citizens, with tens of millions killed or imprisoned in the gulags and laogai. God is mocked, trivialized and hated by communist governments. Most churches and synagogues were desecrated or destroyed. November 7–the anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia–is dedicated to the many victims of Communism."
Smith, Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) and Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), who together co-chair of the congressional Caucus for the Victims of Communism, introduced a resolution to designate Nov. 7 as "Victims of Communism Memorial Day." H.Res. 679, encourages the President to issue an annual proclamation declaring a National Day for the Victims of Communism, commemorating the 100 million victims of communism, and condemning the gross human rights abuses of communist governments, past and present.
“With the emergence of leaders such as Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul II in the West–and human rights advocate like Vaclav Havel and Lech Walesa behind the Iron Curtain–the pernicious evil of communism was challenged and overcome," Smith said. "November 9 marks the fall of the Berlin Wall, and is a day of liberation for many in Eastern Europe."
In part, the resolution states:
"the philosophy of Karl Marx, communism has proven incompatible with the ideals of liberty, prosperity, and dignity of human life, and has given rise to such infamous totalitarian dictators as Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, Ho Chi Minh, Pol Pot, Nicolae Ceausescu, the Castro brothers, and the Kim dynasty."
It further reads:
"Communist regimes worldwide have killed more than 100 million people and subjected countless others to the worst and widest spread human rights abuses known to history, with victims representing many different ethnicities, creeds, and backgrounds; Whereas through false promises of equality and liberation, Communist regimes have as a matter of government policy robbed their own citizens of the rights of freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of association through coercion, brutality, and fear."
Lipinski, the lead sponsor, vividly recalls visiting Berlin 30 years ago right after the gates opened and the Wall began to fall.
"I’ll never forget watching Germans from the East experiencing freedom, many for the first time ever. I also remember seeing East Berlin and the incredibly stark contrast between two sides of the same city," Lipinski said. "This experience helped inspire me to create and co-chair the Congressional Victims of Communism Caucus. Unfortunately, the horrors of communism are not over, so we need this day to remind everyone of the past and current victims of communism, and remind Americans of the need to continue the fight for every person's God-given right to freedom.”
Rep. Duncan said, "Our nation stands with victims of communism across the globe, remembers those who have died or endured suffering under communist regimes, and supports those that are continuing the fight for freedom under tyrannical rule. The United States will always stand for liberty, and I pray this liberty will continue to spread across the world.”
While Smith's first humanitarian trip in the 1980s was to the Soviet Union to support the cause of jailed and persecuted Jews in that communist country, some of his more recent humanitarian trips or work on Capitol Hill involve human rights abuses in China and Hong Kong, and other countries.
“While we memorialize the many victims of communism and celebrate the collapse of the Berlin Wall this week, we need also to remember those – particularly in China, Cuba, North Korea and Vietnam – who still suffer from Communist oppression," Smith said. "We in America must lift high the banner of Freedom which so inspires people in places like Hong Kong, and resist anew the siren call of Socialism, which sadly infects some in the younger generation everywhere who are too-often unaware of the oppressive legacy of socialist extremism. May we never forget.”
The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOC), lauded the introduction of the House resolution."At a time when ignorance of socialism is growing and communist countries like China, Cuba, and North Korea remain threats, we need to be reminded of the one hundred million victims of communism who perished in the past century and the threat to liberty that communism still poses. Opposition to communism and appreciation of democracy have always been bipartisan and must remain so today," said VOC Executive Director Marion Smith, (no relation to Rep. Smith) in a statement.
The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation is an educational and human rights nonprofit organization authorized by a unanimous Act of Congress enacted as Public Law 103-199 by President Bill Clinton on December 17, 1993. President George W. Bush was Honorary Chairman of the Foundation from 2003 to 2009, dedicating the Victims of Communism Memorial in Washington, D.C. in 2007.