The world remembers the names of Communist leaders such as Lenin, Stalin, Chairman Mao, Ho Chi Min, Pol Pot and others, but the details of their despotic reigns and the outcomes of totalitarian rule are being lost to time or intentionally hidden. The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VCMF) works to prevent the truth from being lost or secreted away.
The Global Museum of Communism, which debuted June 16, is an online project sponsored by the VCMF. The museum preserves the memories of the millions of communism’s victims, the despots who imposed that suffering, the images that shaped history and the heroes and unknowns who fought and died resisting communism. The Soviet Union and other failed Communist-ruled nations have faded away, but Communist rule persists in China, Cuba and North Korea and Communists still vie for totalitarian power in other countries. Within those existing Communist nations, the truth is distorted and the horrors denied.
The virtual museum is the latest effort by the VCMF to ensure that future generations never forget the failed experiment of Communist rule and the regimes that murdered, robbed and deprived millions of life and liberty. Karl Marx wrote about a utopia where everyone thrived, wanting for nothing in a democratic workers’ paradise, but history reveals the horror that was communism.
Exhibits include historical information about Tibet’s struggle against Chinese rule, the “Great Terror” of Josef Stalin’s years in power that killed millions more than the Nazis, the Soviet War on Religion and many other topics. The foundation’s chairman, Lee Edwards, says the museum’s primary purpose is to get the truth about communism and its impact on the world out there for younger generations who are not learning this in school. The foundation chose the Internet-based museum to reach out particularly to the younger generation who are so familiar with the online world used as their communication method.
“We’re very pleased so far,” Edwards says. “We have been getting several thousand visitors each day from all over the world, including China.”
The museum includes permanent interactive exhibits detailing the rise and fall of Communist empires, infamous Communist leaders, maps of the spread of communism in Europe and Asia and a gallery dedicated to the heroes who fought against tyranny. National exhibits document the legacy of communism around the world and an archive of media reports and a victims’ registry record the historic events and the names of those who suffered most from Communist rule. Edwards says the museum is not merely a repository of past history, but also serves to chronicle the events and developments of present-day communism. The museum and the foundation are networked together with other organizations around the world to fill in the gaps in the world’s knowledge about communism.
“It takes time to put this all together because those who lived these events are often not willing to talk about what they went through,” Edwards said.
The District of Columbia memorial to those who suffered and died under communist regimes stands not far from HUMAN EVENTS’ offices at the intersection of Massachusetts and New Jersey Avenues. Representatives from countries around the world gathered around the bronze memorial June 16 to lay wreaths commemorating the estimated 100 million victims of the horror spawned by the theories of Karl Marx. Modeled after the Goddess of Democracy sculpture erected in Tiananmen Square by Chinese students seeking to throw off the yoke of communism, the Victims of Communism Memorial was dedicated by President George W. Bush in 2007. Twenty years after those Chinese students braved tanks and gunfire, another Chinese generation has access to few clues about what really took place in the past, but the Global Museum of Communism online exposes for them the truth and counters the propaganda that denies the horror and suffering inflicted by Communist governments.
Edwards said that shortly after the Berlin Wall fell, his wife came up with the idea of a memorial to all the millions of victims of communism. Through the efforts of politicians and individuals, legislation was passed to allow the placement of the monument and the development of the online museum, all of it paid for through private donations. One day, a brick-and-mortar museum envisioned by the VCMF will become a reality, but until that day the online museum reaches across international boundaries to expose the truth about the failure and massive evil of communism.