Powerful testimony of personal experiences with communism’s horrors.
“Do not listen to what the Communists promise, just watch their actions…Search the truth by talking to victims of Communism,” recently warned Truc Brown, a refugee from Vietnamese Communism. Available for public appearances in the Anticommunism Action Team’s (ACAT) Speakers Bureau, she and other individuals now provide powerful testimony of their personal experiences with Communism’s horrors from around the world.
Brown addressed the April 30 Washington, DC-area conference “Down the Memory Hole of Socialism,” cosponsored by the Alexandria Tea Party and the Botev Academy. She joined other ACAT speakers such as Boyko Antonov and Lilia Slavova from Bulgaria, Anna Urman (Belarus/Lithuania), and Klara Sever. Sever, who is Jewish, hid from Nazi genocide in her occupied Czechoslovakian homeland during World War II thanks to heroic neighbors, but then had to endure Czechoslovakia’s postwar Communist tyranny. Like Brown, Sever warned that Communism “is a very poor copy of utopia, which has nothing to do with real life, but it is a very good tool because utopia is based on promises, and promises, as we well know, are very cheap.”
In a personal essay, Server recalls how she spent “half of my adult life standing in line” for all manner of basic necessities and consumer goods while living in her native Bratislava. Accordingly, she always carried a shopping bag for use whenever she chanced upon scarce commodities in any store, such as when she stopped to buy onions and potatoes while rushing to a theater performance with her husband. “We made it to the theater in the nick of time,” she recalled, the “lady behind the counter, without batting an eye, hanged the bag next to my nice coat.”
Sever’s essay elaborates upon her online biography’s description of being “blacklisted” in the 1950s due to her “enemy of the state” husband. Given that her father was an initial supporter of Communism, she had encountered no difficulty in studying at a university, but there her marriage to a man from a bourgeois background changed everything. Authorities answered her application for further study “with a proviso that I need to go to work as a manual worker for 5 years. I did and was moved into a working class cadre.” “Your position depended on your family background,” she recalled; “if you came from a working class, the doors were opened to you to all positions without qualifications.”
As at the 2013 Survivors of Communism Summit of the Alexandria, Virginia, Tea Party, Sever has often discussed life under totalitarian surveillance. “One could never be too cautious. You trusted only very few friends, that meant your little circle was small and sometimes getting smaller and smaller, depending upon who was disappearing.” People meeting in the street would often first ask about a recent soccer game in order to be able to pretend to any inquisitive police who might appear that the street conservation had nothing to do with sensitive topics like politics.
Drawing upon his extensive writings, Jaroslaw Martyniuk has joined Sever at both conferences in 2013 and 2017 to analyze Communism on the basis of his experience as the son of a family that fled Ukraine in World War II’s aftermath. He often focuses on the Holodomor, the Soviet Union’s genocidal forced famine of the Ukraine in the 1930s, and thereby emphasizes the importance of a citizenry’s right to bear arms that is often disputed in the United States. While World War I and Russia’s subsequent Civil War had littered Ukraine with weapons, Soviet authorities confiscated them in 1925. As a result 25,000 Soviet authorities could later subdue 25 million Ukrainians even as 25,000 died a day at the Holodomor’s height in 1933, a “magic 25/25/25” formula.
Martyniuk remembers his family’s sufferings under Communism, including a grandmother who perished in the Soviet gulag, a contrast to younger generations. Their ignorance of past Communist tools of repression like the gulag is “absolutely startling, if not shocking.” Yet he is not “surprised given the academic environment permeated with post-modernist cultural relativism where teaching of history has been marginalized and replaced by social theorizing that denies the existence of truth.”
Agustin Blazquez, a refugee from Cuba who arrived in the United States in 1967 and presented his film on Communism in his native Cuba at the 2017 conference, similarly criticizes pro-Communist biases among the chattering classes. In elite circles opposition to Communism “is a mortal sin” that limits his ability to work in the media. “I do not exist, nor does my work.”
Responding to this writer’s emailed questions, Blazquez recalls his firsthand experience with pro-Communist, anti-American biases. While attending community college English classes outside of Washington, DC, in 1970, a teacher mocked his patriotic “USA” T-shirt. Yet numerous pro-Castro flyers distributed in the school promoted the Venceremos Brigades that bring American college students to Cuba for propagandistic work-cultural exchange programs that have involved terrorism support.
Blazquez has in the past condemned the stupidity and immorality of individuals wearing t-shirts celebrating the sadistic, mass-murdering, and racist Cuban Communist leader Che Guevara as a cult icon. In his email, Blazquez notes that sometimes when seeing such shirts he has
asked the wearer if they knew who was depicted on their shirt. Most did not know who it was. Those who did repeated the false history developed by Castro after Che’s death that he was a hero of the common man.
Guevara’s radical chic reflects Blazquez’s concurrence in his email with Martyniuk’s concern about historical ignorance among younger generations. “The horrors of communism seem to last only for the generation who experienced it. World-wide, the next generations seem unconcerned about it.” Yet like Sever, Blazquez, jailed twice in Cuba, cannot forget his former life under Communism’s Big Brother; “I lived in fear 24 hours a day, tried very hard to be unnoticed, practiced self-imposed withdrawal, stayed home, didn’t go out.”
Given Blazquez’s lived reality, he has previously criticized the Left’s use of “very non-threatening words” like “liberal” or “progressive.” His email explains that this “‘soft’ terminology has been a tool of the Communists since the beginning.” Communism is “so bad that it needs to employ every trick possible in order to thrive.”
Soft leftist rhetoric contrasts for Blazquez with the Left’s increasingly harsh tyranny of Political Correctness (PC) in Western societies, a concern previously addressed by Martyniuk. As he stated in 2013, “PC thought control” is among “disturbing parallels to the system that existed in the Soviet Union and trends emerging in the U.S. today.” Blazquez himself emails that “I am shocked about how easily supposedly freedom-loving Americans are willing to give in to PC and adjust their speech and lives accordingly.”
Martyniuk has cited former Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky’s description of PC as an “intellectual gulag,” and Blazquez’s correspondingly focuses on Leftist domination of Western culture’s commanding heights. “Unless the infiltration of academia and the media can be stopped, there is little hope,” Blazquez emailed. Brown likewise warned at the 2017 conference about the influences of schools and others upon children. American parents should “start talking to them about Communism, the danger of being indoctrinated the wrong way” as the “Communists use the same tactics everywhere.”
Personal witnesses to Communism’s God that Failed like Brown have a vital voice to offer in the Soviet revolution’s 2017 centenary, as countries like her Vietnamese and Blazquez’s Cuban homelands still languish under Marxism’s legacy. “Many elites got mesmerized by communist books, similar to being drugged up,” she emailed. Yet Communism entails “leading Humanity back to the Dark Ages,” the “Devil in Human form,” with “officials controlling all aspects of people’s life and people’s mind.”
All who cherish their freedom should take to heart Blazquez’s personal essay on leaving Cuba in 1965 for a state-approved foreign study program that would be his escape from tyranny. Taking off from Havana, he reflected upon the home left behind though his airplane window. “[D]own below there is a country full of people, trapped in a prison without walls, slaves of new kind of oppressive order, who are not living, but existing…their country was no longer theirs.”