Conservative Spotlight: Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation

VICTIMS OF COMMUNISM MEMORIAL FOUNDATION The mainstream media and educational institutions are full of portrayals of evil enemies from the past such as Nazis, slave traders, and Ku Klux Klanners. But Communists, who were not only our most recent external enemy before Islamic radicals took center stage two years ago but who continue to oppose the West and oppress more than a billion people, are not so commonly cast as the villains in movies and textbooks. The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOCMF) hopes to erect a permanent memorial to remember the enormous number of victims at the hands of this leftist utopian ideology over the past century—and its vicious perpetrators. “Communism has claimed 100 million lives,” said Jay Katzen, new president of the non-profit foundation, “and it’s still going.” Mainland China, with over one billion people, is avowedly Communist, as are a few small nations such as North Korea and Cuba. All three are deadly enemies of the United States with the power to harm her interests and citizens. Communism continues to linger in Vietnam, and many former Communists are still in powerful positions in former Soviet and Eastern European nations. “The foundation was established by Congress in a bill signed by Bill Clinton,” said Katzen. “The memorial will be built in a prominent place in the District of Columbia, although not on the Mall.” The foundation, which originally intended to raise $100 million—”one dollar for each life lost to Communist tyranny”—has scaled back its plans and now aims to acquire $25 million. “We need to raise the money from individuals, foundations, corporations, governments of formerly Communist countries, and hopefully get matching funds from Congress,” said Katzen, a former Republican state delegate from Virginia who unsuccessfully ran for lieutenant governor in 2001. The memorial museum that the foundation wants to build later will, according to foundation literature, include: “The Roll Call of Victims—the names, photos, and where possible, personal testimony of victims of Communism; The Hall of Heroes—honoring anti-Communist champions such as Ronald Reagan, Harry Truman, Pope John Paul II, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Andrei Sakharov, Lech Walesa, and Vaclav Havel; The Hall of Infamy—representing Communism’s inhumanity to man: a section of the Berlin Wall, a Soviet Gulag barracks, a torture room from the ‘Hanoi Hilton,’ a cell from Castro’s infamous Isle of Pines, and a replica of the Goddess of Democracy.” “Before we build the physical memorial, we plan to have a virtual museum on our website,” Katzen said. “We plan to have that up in 18 months.” “In October 1917, the Bolshevik Revolution began, a revolution born of blood that became the deadliest mass killing ever visited upon the human race, extinguishing more than 100 million lives and even now enslaving 1/5th of the world’s people,” says VOCMF. “And yet the United States, symbol of freedom to the world, has no memorial to the victims of Communism. No enduring reminder of the murderous legacy of Communism. . . . It is a great moral failing of our age that the extent of Communism’s atrocities remains dimly understood.” The most important cause of the Soviet Union’s fall must not be forgotten, it says: “No accident of history, the West’s triumph over the ‘evil empire’ was the result of a calculated strategy by a grand alliance of political, military, religious, business, and labor leaders. They deserve credit for the victory over Communism many thought impossible, some even undesirable.” Katzen noted that much of the credit for VOCMF’s existence must go to the Hon. Lev Dobriansky and Dr. Lee Edwards, now chairman of the foundation. “They have done so much,” he said. “I was just brought in to raise funds at this point. I have long been anti-Communist.” Katzen once served as an American diplomat in Africa and Communist Romania. “I saw what [Communist dictator Nicolae] Ceausescu’s Romania was like,” he said. VOCMF has worked with a bipartisan group of politicians who back the creation of a memorial, said Katzen. “Sen. Joseph Lieberman [D.-Conn.] has been very helpful,” he said. “So has Sen. Joe Biden [D.].” Republican politicians such as Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, former Rep. Dick Armey, and former Sen. Jesse Helms have also helped the foundation. “Tear down this wall!” recounts VOCMF. “President Reagan commanded, and down the Berlin Wall came, the barrier that had separated the free from the oppressed for generations.” VOCMF may be reached at P.O. Box 1997, Washington, D.C. 20013 (e-mail: