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"An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last."
Sir Winston Churchill

9.02.2005

The Holocaust We Ignored

We know how many people the Nazis slaughtered. How many did the Communists butcher?

Some don't care:

It is now a quarter century since the torch of resistance to Communism was first lit. In August 1980, striking Polish shipyard workers of the Solidarity Trade Union opposed the state, demanded freedom, and kicked off widespread popular revolt. Cascading revolutions in Eastern and Central Europe followed in 1989 and culminated in the ultimate collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The anniversary of Solidarity's formation -- the first independent trade union behind the Iron Curtain -- is being celebrated in Poland this week.

Yet today, many former Communists, responsible for gross acts of injustice and oppression, refuse to acknowledge their pasts and continue to escape proper judgment. This is particularly true in Eastern Europe but the denial extends far wider.

The examples abound. Just two weeks ago a 51-year-old female judge, Jitka Formankova of the Czech Republic, was promoted to one of the top judicial posts in her country. In 1980 Formankova, a paragon of Communist legal thinking in the former Czechoslovakia, sentenced a restaurant manager, Jan Cermak, to ten months in prison for "political slander and hooliganism" after he had ejected a group of local Communist officials from his establishment in the town of Plzen, Western Bohemia. He had had the temerity to call their ideas "Communist hogwash." For this "offense" Cermak lost not only liberty and job but also eventually even his family. A campaign of hate followed from former friends and neighbors, his daughter was ostracized at school and eventually his wife divorced him. With his "future" taken from him, Cermak died in 1987.

One might think that the good judge, whose appointment was confirmed on August 4th by the Czech Senate, might display a hint of remorse or contrition for acts such as these. Not a bit of it: she admits only to being "young and foolish," as it was all 25 years ago. The case is now promoting much debate in the Czech Republic as to whether past actions like these are relevant today and whether there can be a statute of limitations on the actions of former Communist officials. Public opinion is split as to whether a sufficient "purge" of former Communists took place in the years following the country's Velvet Revolution of 1989.

But unapologetic former Communists are not confined to the Czech Republic.

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