Shouldn’t Ex-Communists Be Held Accountable?
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus
Recently, when an United Nations affiliated international tribunal convicted former Serbian General Ratko Mladic of genocide and sentenced him to life in prison, the New York Times commented with obvious glee: “No crime against humanity, no matter how long ago it occurred, should be immune to cries for justice.”
If that’s the case, how come there are no international tribunals putting ex-Communists on trial? Why is it that men like Mladic can be held accountable and not the leaders of China and the former Soviet Union? Over recent years, several ex-Nazi corporals have been hunted down, tried, and convicted of having a role in hounding and killing Jews during World War II. But putting ex-Communists on trial hasn’t happened and there surely are plenty still alive.
Twenty years ago, Europeans who lived under Communist rule published The Black Book of Communism. A review of the murder, imprisonment, and brutality inflicted on people who resided in what were termed “the captive nations.” The book points to a staggering total of 94 million deaths at the hands of Communist rulers. Many of these instances of brutality occurred during the very time period that Nazis were rounding up and killing Jews. But only ex-Nazis are prosecuted.
Stephane Courtois, the Black Book’s editor, claims 65 million victims of Communism met death in China and close to 20 million perished in the former Soviet Union. He noted that Communist regimes are responsible for far more deaths “than any other political ideal or movement, including Nazism.” These deaths did not result from war. Communists deliberately killed millions through organized programs involving executions, man-created starvation, forced labor, and more. A major reason for the bloody rampages was the terror forced on those who remained in silence and became totally unwilling to oppose their oppressors.
On July 16, 1971, the 92nd Congress of the United States published a 33-page document entitled “The Human Cost of Soviet Communism.” Issued by the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee, the report relied on the work of the highly regarded British historian Robert Conquest for its statistics. Conquest concluded that the number of deaths caused by Soviet authorities in Russia and other captive nations numbered 45 million. While many of these victims of Soviet terror met death in the first half of the 20th Century, millions perished at the hands of still-living Communist leaders and their subordinates.
Similarly, the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee published “The Human Cost of Communism in China” on July 29, 1971. It concluded that China’s leaders had ordered the slaughter of at least 34 million and possibly as many as 64 million innocent persons. A huge portion of these victims were slain during the reign of Mao Tse-tung. Many who carried out his death-mandating orders are alive today. And so are those who suppressed the student revolt at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square almost 30 years ago.
Why haven’t current leaders in China been prosecuted? Many played a role in China’s murderous past. The same question needs to be asked about Soviet leaders such as Mikhail Gorbachev, a lifelong Communist who has never renounced Communism and, instead of being held accountable for his crimes, is given the privilege of addressing the U.S. Congress and being treated as if he were a reliable ally.
If Communists who are guilty of high crimes aren’t held accountable (ostracism at least would certainly be in order), the reason can only be that they are winning. Winning what? Winning control over mankind under the name of “socialism” rather than under the banner of “communism.” Gorbachev has written of his insistence that he will never cease being a Communist. He should be held accountable for his role in enforcing Communist rule with death-dealing gulags, crackdowns on dissenters, and creating terror throughout his nation and others where Soviet forces ruled for decades.
In 2007, a Victims of Communism Memorial statue was erected in Washington, DC. That’s a welcome gesture, but more is needed. Punishing ex-Nazis who are virtual nobodies and ignoring the crimes of many high-ranking Communists is hypocrisy gone wild. It surely does indicate who is winning in the battle that pits freedom under just law against dictatorial slavery.
Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.
Prosecute the Nazis, But What About Communist Criminals?
by JBS President John F. McManus
During the years 1942 to 1944, Oskar Groning served the Nazi regime at Auschwitz, the most notorious of Hitler’s numerous death camps. Assigned the task of seizing valuables from arriving prisoners, he did his job well. At age 94, however, Groning was convicted of “complicity” in the subsequent deaths of those prisoners, all of whom were themselves guilty of no crime whatsoever.
Groning never killed anyone. But his willingness to serve alongside those who did the killing was enough to bring him to justice. During his trial, he acknowledged the role he played at the Nazi camp and said, “I am truly sorry.” Sentenced to four years in prison, he will likely pass into eternity before serving those years.
The process of rounding up and punishing ex-Nazis who in any way and at any rank served at a Nazi death camp has been meticulously thorough. But it will soon end because most who served during World War II are now deceased, and death will soon have claimed all.
The crimes committed by the Nazi regime were real, painful, and a stain against humanity. Unfortunately, the Nazis were not the only terror regime that killed millions. Similar or worse atrocities were carried out by various Communist regimes. The lives of tens of millions were snuffed out in Communist China, Communist Soviet Union, and numerous Soviet satellite nations. However, none of the criminals who murdered these millions has faced trial and prosecution.
Instead, men such as Russia’s former leader Mikhail Gorbachev have been feted in the West, particularly in the United States. Gorbachev spent all of his adult life climbing into powerful leadership positions while government-created gulags were filled and millions were murdered. He is guilty of far worse crimes than many who served as minor functionaries in Nazi prison camps. The same can be said of Communist China’s leaders and those who presided over the many Soviet satellite nations. Each of those arch criminals maintained power through implementation of policies that resulted in indiscriminate terror and widespread murder for Poles, Estonians, Hungarian, East Germans, and those who lived in a dozen more captive nations. In each of those unhappy lands, Soviet-style horror reigned for decades after the defeat of Nazi Germany.
The treatment accorded Oskar Groning and others like him is the polar opposite of what Communist murderers receive. Why? Part of the reason has to be that the Nazis lost their war and the Communists were never defeated. Instead, Russian and Chinese Communist “dignitaries” everyone knows to have been complicit in mass murder are now considered political equals who must be treated with respect, and even honored. At the very least, they should be shunned. But incredibly deficient leadership of our own nation has America begging the Chinese for loans and negotiating with Russia’s criminals as if they were totally innocent of any past crimes.
“Crime unpunished is crime rewarded,” contends a seemingly forgotten maxim. But history indicates that if crime remains unpunished or at least isn’t honored, it will occur again. Ignoring arch criminals is an intellectual crime, and many of today’s leaders are surely guilty of exactly that depravity.
Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and now President. He remains the Society’s chief media representative throughout the nation and has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs. Mr. McManus is also Publisher of The New American magazine and author of a number of educational DVDs and books.