Call it another Twilight Zone moment, another ignominious contribution to the “you-can’t-make-this-up” category. First, Mao Zedong was honored by oblivious New Yorkers last October, with their Empire State Building aglow in red and yellow to commemorate the birth of People’s Republic of China. Mao’s nearest rival for the trophy for top mass murderer in history was Joseph Stalin. Perhaps other clueless Americans could find a way to honor Stalin, too – maybe closer to Washington, the nation’s capital.
Hey, don’t laugh. The National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Va., has done just that, erecting a statue of Stalin. No, I’m not kidding.
Predictably, the mainstream press is not talking about this. The press is dominated by the same people who dominate our educational system; they are largely uninterested in the horrors of communism. It is Joe McCarthy, not Joe Stalin, who consumes their Cold War outrage.
Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation
The only reason I know about this travesty is the vigilant work of Lee Edwards’ Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. It has the heroic goal of trying – desperately – to educate Americans about the forgotten holocaust committed by communists in the 20th century. The holocaust exceeded 100 million deaths, double the combined death total of the two world wars. Equally worthy endeavors, such as the National Holocaust Memorial, do crucial work reminding us of Hitler’s genocide. But aside from Edwards’ organization, no other has formally assumed the task of reminding the world of the unparalleled carnage caused by communist governments – among which, incidentally, Joseph Stalin’s led the pack.
As for the Stalin statue, Edwards’ group has a website to call attention to this moral and historical slander. The site features a petition to remove the statue, with over 3,000 signatures from every state and over 40 countries, including some really upset folks from the former Soviet empire. Addressed to the National D-Day Memorial Foundation and President Obama’s secretary of the interior, Ken Salazar, the petition demands that the “true history of World War II must be protected from distortion and misinformation which threaten to erase or alter well-established and documented facts.”
The real Stalin
Among those facts is a rather vital one, noted in the petition’s next line: “Neither Joseph Stalin nor Soviet forces played any part in the D-Day landing at Normandy.”
Indeed, ironically, disinformation such as the claim that the Soviets were there on D-Day was once the crass domain of Kremlin propagandists, cooked up to dupe gullible Westerners. Stalin himself had his in-house stooges retroactively invent his gallant wartime role. Imagine his Cold War archrival – the United States of America – earnestly picking up that charge, under no threat of execution or imprisonment by the long-dead tyrant. Stalin is surely howling in his tomb.
Yet beyond that, the statue represents far graver distortion. Consider:
Stalin was morally complicit in the indescribable deaths of all those non-Russian boys who stormed the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944. Five years earlier, during the dark of night on August 23, 1939, Stalin’s USSR and Hitler’s Germany signed a secret pact. One week later, in keeping with that pact, Hitler invaded Poland from the west. Two and a half weeks later, the Red Army, also in keeping with that pact, invaded Poland from the east. World War II was on. The catalyst for Europe’s ultimate liberation would come June 6, 1944, D-Day – no thanks whatsoever to Stalin.
Importantly, it is Russian soldiers, not Stalin, who deserve commendation for Hitler’s defeat. In June 1941, Hitler betrayed Stalin, by invading the USSR. It was a bloody rout. No country suffered as many dead as the USSR – 40 times the combined death toll of America and Britain. A major reason for Russia’s staggering losses was Stalin’s Great Purge, in which the tyrant murdered the nation’s high command, leaving novices in charge of opposing Hitler’s blitzkrieg. This was so irresponsibly, wickedly disastrous that Stalin’s successor, Nikita Khrushchev, rightly blamed Stalin for the millions of Russian boys killed by the Nazis.
If this history is new to you, then you, too, are a victim. You’re a casualty of America’s educational system, from public schools to our woefully biased, scandalously overpriced universities. That also applies to those responsible for honoring Stalin at the National D-Day Memorial, who are probably oblivious. Really, their monument to Stalin is a monument to American education.
It’s time to purge the architect of the Great Purge. The statue should be dismembered, not peacefully but violently, befitting Stalin’s character. I suggest a sledgehammer, with survivors of the dictator’s savage campaigns, from Poland to the Ukraine to Siberia, each getting to give it a whack.
Dr. Paul Kengor is professor of political science and executive director of The Center for Vision and Values at Grove City College. The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation website is www.StalinStatue.com.