Reflections on communism: Why was there no Nuremberg for communism?

On October 17th WYAE was present at the conference on ‘Why was there not a Nuremberg for communism?’ hosted by MEP Marek Jurek in the European Parliament. After attending this event, we came up to a conclusion that nazism was a communism’s closest ideological competitor. Ideologies such as nazism and communism rested on variations of a politically self-serving moral relativism that contributed to Europe’s totalitarian nightmare.

As the speakers argued, the Nazis were trialed during the Nuremberg Trials, while communism, one of the most criminal systems in the history of humankind, still remains with impunity. Despite its far larger death toll, communism has never been as denounced as nazism, nor have many former communists repented of their past. The communist ideology was based on secrecy and terror, on denial of crimes committed. It is a system which leads to permanent discrimination wanting to destroy anybody who is even slightly suspected not following their way of thinking.

However, it has been said that behind the communists’ crimes, there stood the idea of building ‘a new, better world on the greatest scale’. communism was seen as a process of liberalization as a promotion of justice designated as never ever to face responsibility for its deeds. The international situation immediately after the fall of communism in those years hindered its denial. A sort of western states’ indifference, people under communism learned to live under such conditions. Still today, there exists a moral complex among people, which does not allow us to denounce communism and not fight against it and against its crimes. In Hungary, there are still names preserved of public buildings, streets which reflect communism ideology. The problem is that the stigma of communism is a long healing process.

Bukowski in his book, Judgment of Moscow, hoped that an international tribunal in Moscow could play a similar role to the first Nuremberg Trial in post-Nazi Germany and help the country begin to overcome the legacy of Communism, but it did not happen. The Soviet Communist Party was found to be an unconstitutional organization, but former communists were allowed to play a leading part in the government of post-Soviet Russia.

What can be done today? Today, communism is becoming a modern phenomenon. There is a need to understand what impact has communism on young people. The memory of communism should remain fresh and therefore education through instructing and teaching students, repeating them true facts is very important.

As Ignazio Silone wrote ”Revolutions, like trees, must be judged by their fruit”, the speakers highlighted the importance of communism to be judged by its evil deeds. Victims of communism are very often precious people who help to spread the message how this evil has worked for many years around the world. We also need to highlight heroes, for example, Karol Wojtyla, John Paul II., who represented a big social and moral authority against communism and whose readings we might find in the WYA Certified Training Program.

Lastly, communism must be condemned not merely because it is responsible for having eliminated a great number of people but its attack targeted truth, freedom, and family. The intrinsic evil of communism and its ideology has threatened society and today is important to keep sending messages of the truth, love, and values with which we can pursue a common good. As Anna Halpine once said, ‘the achievements of the resistance movements remain a sure guide and inspiration for us’. It is to be hoped that hatred and violence will not triumph in people’s hearts, especially among those who are struggling for justice, and that all people will grow in the spirit of peace and forgiveness as the life and dignity of each person must be respected and protected.

Written by Miroslav Kardos, an intern in the WYA Europe office.