REMEMBERING THE VICTIMS OF COMMUNISM
(Extensions of Remarks - November 13, 2017)

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[Congressional Record Volume 163, Number 185 (Monday, November 13, 2017)]
[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E1557-E1558]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                  REMEMBERING THE VICTIMS OF COMMUNISM

                                 ______
                                 

                       HON. CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH

                             of new jersey

                    in the house of representatives

                       Monday, November 13, 2017

  Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, George Orwell wrote, in his 
novel 1984, ``Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls 
the present controls the past.''
  The context of this slogan is Winston's struggle to maintain his 
memory, his vital connection to truth--against the evil ambition of the 
all-powerful party to control what we remember of the past, and, 
through that, to control the pathways into the future.
  That is also the context in which the Victims of Congress Memorial 
Foundation carries on its work. This outstanding foundation held a 
landmark three-day conference in Washington last week, marking 100 
years since the Bolshevik revolution unleashed the evils of communism 
on the world.
  The foundation works to ensure that the memories, the real 
experiences of millions of people who suffered under communism are 
preserved--notwithstanding the efforts of powerful persons, ideologies, 
and interests, for whom the memory of the horrific crimes of communism 
must be forgotten, or more or less subtly distorted so as to promote 
their own contemporary agendas.
  On one level, reluctance to remember the communist crimes might seem 
an understandable human weakness--the sheer scale of communist crimes 
is so vast that it beggars our power of comprehension.
  Since 1917 communism has claimed at least 100 million lives, in the 
Soviet Union, China, Mongolia, Eastern Europe, Indochina, Africa, 
Afghanistan and parts of Latin America according to the painstaking 
research of demographers.
  Writing in the Wall Street Journal two weeks ago, Professor Stephen 
Kotkin specified that in China, ``Mao's program resulted in one of 
history's deadliest famines, claiming between 16 and 32 million 
victims.'' On Cambodia: ``All told, perhaps as many as 2 million 
Cambodians; a quarter of the population, perished as a result of 
starvation, disease and mass executions during the four nightmarish 
years of Pol Pot's rule.''
  Yet we have a duty to remember the past accurately. Rather than 
dwell, today, on the many ways in which the memory of communist crimes 
has been obliterated or retouched, let's consider one thing that is 
common to most, if not all, of them: they deny the profound spiritual 
significance of the victims' experiences, and of the perpetrator's 
crimes.
  No one has been more eloquent in calling us back to this than 
Alexander Solzhenitsyn. In 1983 the great writer received the Templeton 
Prize, which is made to honor an exceptional contribution to affirming 
life's spiritual dimension. He opened his remarks with these memorable 
words:

       More than half a century ago, while I was still a child, I 
     recall hearing a number of older people offer the following 
     explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: 
     Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened.
       Since then I have spent well-nigh fifty years working on 
     the history of our Revolution; in the process I have read 
     hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal 
     testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my 
     own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by 
     that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as 
     concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous 
     Revolution that swallowed up some sixty million of our 
     people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: 
     Men have forgotten God; that's why all this has happened.

  Solzhenitsyn recalled us forcefully to the spiritual values that were 
always at stake in the communist assault on humanity--and remain at 
stake in the struggle to maintain the memory of what communism 
perpetrated on the peoples who fell victim to it.
  Over my many years in Congress, I have been blessed to meet and work 
with many other men and women who have been great living witnesses to 
the effort to maintain a true memory of the crimes of communism. It's 
no coincidence that most of them have also been witnesses to God, and 
came into conflict with communism for that very reason.
  Thirty-seven years ago, during my first term in Congress, I read 
Tortured for Christ by Romanian pastor Richard Wurmbrand.
  It is the true story of unspeakable physical torture and 
psychological abuse of underground Christians under Romania's Communist 
dictator Nicolae Ceausescu--and of Pastor Wurmbrand's harrowing 14-year 
incarceration. Wurmbrand had defied the communists by declaring openly 
that Communism and Christianity were incompatible. Sabina, his brave 
wife, stood by him and also suffered prison and forced labor for her 
faith.
  In 1964 the Wurmbrands were ransomed out of Romania for $10,000, and 
in 1966 Richard testified before Congress, taking off his shirt to show 
Americans the scars from his torture.
  Like so many, both my wife Marie and I read his book and were 
inspired by Pastor Wurmbrand's indomitable faith, breathtaking courage 
and hope and challenged by his admonishment to believers to cease 
enabling evil by our naivete, cold-hearted indifference or cowardly 
complicity.
  After being drugged and beaten Pastor Wurmbrand said he was in such 
bad shape that he even forgot the words to the Lord's Prayer so he 
simply prayed: ``Our Father I have forgotten the prayer, but you surely 
know it by heart. . . .''
  Russia gave us many witnesses to the ugly reality of communism. In 
the 1980s, my first religious freedom mission was to Moscow and 
Leningrad in 1982 on behalf of Soviet Jews--the heroic refuseniks, like 
Natan Sharansky. I got to know many of them and their families. And 
when in 1989 Frank Wolf and I visited Perm Camp 35 the prisoners told 
us of their hunger--for food, and for Scripture as well.
  In Moscow I also met, and prayed with the Siberian Seven--a group of 
Pentecostal Christians who fled to the U.S. Embassy and lived there for 
five years until finally getting exit visas. During that trip--and many 
subsequent trips to meet Orthodox clergy and believers--began to grasp 
Alexander Solzhenitsyn's astute observation that communism doesn't 
merely believe that God does not exist, it hates Him.
  Solzhenitsyn called it ``militant atheism''.
  Like many of you I saw that hate throughout the Soviet Union, in 
Romania, the Warsaw Pact Countries--and that God-hatred continues to 
thrive today within dictatorships like North Korea, Cuba, Vietnam and 
China.
  China has produced many witnesses, and because its communist 
dictatorship endures, and even hardens its militancy, today, we all 
have the opportunity to meet those who witness and document its crimes 
against the Chinese people. As the chair of the China Commission I have 
many times heard testimony from Bob Fu, Wei Jingsheng, Chai Ling, Harry 
Wu, Joseph Kung, and so many others.

[[Page E1558]]

  One of the most memorable encounters I had was in China itself, in 
1994. I had the awesome privilege of a private meeting with Bishop Su 
Zhimin. Bishop Su was the leader of the underground Catholic Church in 
Hebei province.
  We met at dawn, for an outdoor Mass with many other believers. As we 
spoke and then prayed, the Bishop prayed for his persecutors, he prayed 
for the misguided leaders of the Chinese Communist Party. Bishop Su's 
body bore witness to the brutality of China's Communist Party. He was 
beaten, starved, and tortured for this faith and spent some 40 years in 
prison. Yet, he prayed not just for the persecuted church, but for the 
conversion of those who hate, torture and kill. His witness and his 
faith absolutely amazed me. Love those who hate you as Christ did from 
the cross? Do good to those who persecute you? For Bishop Su these were 
more than words, it was his faithful and faith filled response to one 
of our Lord's most difficult teaching. Unfortunately, only couple years 
later Bishop Su was arrested again and disappeared. He has not been 
heard from since.
  Over and over in the lives of these heroic witnesses, we see that the 
effort to stand up for the truth against the communists cost them a 
great deal. Sometimes it cost them everything but their lives--and 
almost that too.
  To follow in their footsteps, to remember the truth of what communism 
really was and did, will cost us something too. We will have to 
remember that what was at stake with communism was not a question of 
competing economic systems or system of social organization, but the 
question of God--the human being deprived of any divine connection. 
This will require us to swim upstream, against the dominant mentality. 
We will have to think, and at times to speak and act, differently. And 
this will not always be welcome.
  We owe a profound debt of gratitude to the foundation and its 
supporters, who have done so much to honor the memory of the victims of 
communism.

                          ____________________