31 October 2012

Scorn the Scourge

In recent weeks, I have posted on two pieces regarding a pining for the “good old days” of Communism here in Europe. One was a European Union poster depicting the “hammer and sickle” along with a number of religious symbols. The other was a link to a news story regarding Communists making gains in the recent regional elections here in the Czech Republic. The nostalgia is neither limited nor isolated, as evidenced by essays such as this. What short memories have these human beings.

There are those, however, who “get it.” There are those who remember the death and repression associated with that evil period in the history of this region. 

Sandra and I visited the statues depicted here recently. They are easy to find in a section of the city well-traveled by tourists and residents alike. In fact, they are hard to miss.

It should also be hard to miss the meaning and import of the statues. It is explained well in English and Czech in the plaque shown below. There is also a bronze ribbon which runs up the steps toward the statues indicating the numbers of people killed, and deported, and imprisoned under the communist regime which held this land captive from 1945 to 1989. 

The stats run like this:
205,486 arrested
170,938 forced into exile
4,500 died in prison
327 shot trying to escape
248 executed.
Remember, this is only in Czechoslovakia.

Yet, “The Czechs´ relationship to their totalitarian past is a pretty complicated affair, writes Terje B. Englund, a Norwegian journalist living in Prague. To see the rest of this very interesting article by Englund click here.

Complications aside, the message portrayed by these statues, is plain. As the figures recede, so does their humanity. Their personhood is deconstructed piece by piece, as they fade into nothingness. Communism, in its various forms was (and still is) a crime against humanity. It is estimated that more that 100,000,000 (yes, there are THAT many zeroes in this number) civilians have died under the tyranny always associated with communist rule. We cannot possibly calculate, however, the destruction of the human spirit directed by the communist overlords who repressed religion, art, literature - and especially - family life.

Many Czechs are disappointed; some furious; at the way their government is functioning today. That's fair enough. Negative reaction to government waste, fraud, and inefficiency is normal and expected. Let’s remember, however, the difference between today and yesteryear. Today, the masses go out regularly and hold protest rallies and marches on Wenceslas Square - without fear of being shot. Cabinet members have been jailed for fraud (after real trials not the "show trials" of the Communist regimes). People have a voice.

A return to Communism would be a return to the dark ages of repression, incarceration, and murder. This scourge of humanity; this blight on humankind must not be remembered fondly or returned to power. It must not be allowed to gain foothold in those societies which have not yet experienced it. Communism must be banished to the dustbin of history, where it belongs.

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