by John Czop
In 1993, the United States Congress unanimously voted-up a resolution to establish the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. The foundation’s mission was to: “educate Americans about the ideology, history, and legacy of communism.” The impetus for this foundation came from three professors teaching and researching at universities in Washington, DC who were members of the Captive Nations Committee: Lee Edwards, Lev Dobriansky, and Zbigniew Brzezinski.
After nearly 30 years of fundraising to establish a bricks-and-mortar museum via its first-rate web site, the Victims of Communism Museum opened to the public on Monday, June 13, 2022.The museum is located at 900 15th Street Northwest, at General McPherson Square, in Washington, DC. The POLISH AMERICAN CONGRESS (PAC) was among the organizations invited to the Dedication of the Victims of Communism Museum on the evening of Wednesday, June 8, 2022. This writer represented the PAC.
The highpoint of the dedication ceremony was presentation of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation’s annual award, The Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom, to the only surviving founder: Professor Lee Edwards. He began his acceptance speech with Victor Hugo’s accurate observation: “Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.” The opening of the museum in the present context of Vladimir Putin’s ruthless and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine has silenced the numerous detractors of the Victims of Communism Foundation. Many among the latter were convinced that Putin’s Russia is on the road to peace and democracy.
There no longer is any doubt that former KGB Colonel Putin, then based in Berlin and in charge of “black operations” in western Europe, is continuing today communism’s murderous project. Professor Edwards emphasized the importance of remembering the over one million individuals murdered on orders of communist regimes since the Bolshevik Revolution of November 1917. The lives of many more were injured by the nefarious practices of communist regimes. Professor Edwards reminded us that today, one and one half billion people continue to be oppressed by communist regimes. Moreover, the opening of the museum also is marked by the 40th anniversary of an auspicious event: President Ronald Reagan’s address of June 8, 1982, at the height of the Cold War, to the British Parliament, on the advent of freedom and democracy throughout the world. This is a message that we still need today as we face aggressive authoritarian regimes in Russia and China. This is why the museum is vital today.
Former United States Ambassador to Estonia, Aldona Wos, M.D. is a Trustee of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, and she serves as interim president of the Institute of World Politics (IWP) based in Washington, DC, which was established by Professor John Lenczowski in 1990, who served on President Ronald Reagan’s National Security Council. The first incumbent and present holder of the Kosciuszko Chair in Polish Studies at IWP, Professor Marek Jan Chodakiewicz, serves on the Academic Council of the Victims of Communism Museum. The Honorable Daniel Lipinski, who for many years represented the Third Congressional District of Illinois, serves on the Foundation’s Advisory Council.