The Forgotten

I recently came across an item in the Catholic press describing a Mass of Reparation offered in Britain for the 12,000 Slovenian Catholics handed over by the British to be murdered by Yugoslav Communists in May 1945. This piece caught my eye for personal reasons: The fathers of two very close friends were among the Slovenian refugees who fled Tito’s butchers at the end of World War II, and they would have ended up in the same mass graves as the 12,000 did if the grandfather of one of my friends, a medical doctor who spoke English, had not persuaded British officers to let his particular group of refugees stay in Austria, from whence my friends’ fathers ultimately found their way here.

Of course, the Slovenians butchered by Tito were but a small drop in the immense ocean of blood shed by the Communists. But despite numbering in the tens of millions, these victims are largely forgotten because they are too often seen as an embarrassment by those who fancy the egalitarian rhetoric mouthed by their murderers and by those who insist that the struggle against the great evil represented by Hitler renders all the suffering caused by our allies in that struggle as somehow irrelevant. These points were brought home when I picked up the August 30 issue of the New Yorker, which contained both a piece by Ian Frazier, describing how Stalin’s millions of victims are being forogotten in Russia, and a piece by Adam Gopnik, praising the same Churchill who sent those Slovenians (and many other anti-Communists) to their deaths at the end of World War II for “moral instincts” that Gopnik sees as having been “uncanny.” Gopnik praises Churchill’s ”moral instincts” in part because Churchill distinguished between Stalin and Hitler and indeed was even urging negotiations with his wartime ally Stalin in the 1950s, negotiations that, if successful, could only have legitimated Communist control over Eastern Europe.

It bears noting that the moral evil of Nazism died with Hitler, but the moral evil of Communism lives on nearly two decades after the collapse of the USSR. The great moral dislocation of Russia, seen in the prevalence of abortion, family breakdown, alcoholism, corruption, and early death, is attributable to a system that sought to destroy Christianity and taught generations of Russians to live by lying. Thanks to our general agreement with Churchill’s “uncanny” moral instincts regarding the relative evils of Nazism and Communism, the West has became nervous about even mild expressions of nationalism, while those who mouth egalitarian rhetoric generally get the same sort of pass Stalin did while murdering millions. The victims of Communism deserve to be rememberd, as do those who resisted it. But, unfortunately, it is no more fashionable to honor the victims of Communism or anti-Communists today than it was in the days when Walter Duranty won a Pulitzer Prize for lying about the Ukrainian famine for the New York Times.

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