Did a UK University Really "Lose" an Archive Documenting Communist Terrorism?
History is written by the winners, they say. But the question of who won the Cold War is somewhat of a split decision.
Geopolitically and economically, the western coalition of conservatives and liberals held the day. Culturally, especially at the academic level, the hard Left, much of which was sympathetic to the Communist cause continued to dominate cultural institutions.
This comes into play in many ways, but the most obvious are the ways in the differing treatments of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, and the erasure of the atrocities of the former, especially when it comes to the complicity of western leftists in committing them.
I was recently informed by Jillian Becker about the inexcusable loss of her invaluable work with the Institute for the Study of Terrorism.
"My co-director Bernhard Adamczewski and I traveled across Europe, together and separately, to gather information firsthand. He found a “wanted” German terrorist in Vienna and informed the local police of the man’s whereabouts. We visited battlefields in the Middle East and pulled bloodstained documents from the rubble of bombed terrorist offices and encased them in transparent plastic covers to be photocopied. The copies were translated and filed. I came upon the deserted camp of one west African terrorist organization where, in the rows of desks in the classrooms, there were exercise books in which students had taken down lessons extolling Soviet Communism as the ideal system. The course had been run by graduates of Moscow’s Patrice Lumumba University. Those proofs that the organization was serving the interests of the USSR went back to London with me and entered our archive."
After the Cold War, Becker and her colleagues closed down the Institute and turned it over to the University of Leicester.
"I anticipated that our records, solidly proving the guilt of two Communist regimes for promoting decades of mass murder in the West, would be a permanent resource for historians of the Cold War. "
That may have been excessively optimistic. The University of Leicester took possession but now claims to be unable to find it.
Large numbers of documents don't simply disappear. Someone made the decision to either remove or dispose of them because they were politically inconvenient. The university went to some trouble to acquire the archive. Someone equally went to some trouble to 'un-acquire' it.
"Perhaps the reason why the University of Leicester did not protect the IST archive was because it is now committed to erasing the past. An indication of this is in reports that the administration wants to “decolonize” the teaching of English literature by eliminating medieval studies (so Chaucer, inter alia, is to be removed from the curriculum), and “focus on ethnicity, sexuality and diversity”.
Hopefully, some portions of the archive can be restored. I doubt this was a case of materials being sold off on the black market, this doesn't seem like that kind of archive, which raises the possibility that the material may, using the old librarian's trick, have been deliberately misfiled or stuffed down into the deepest and darkest 'dungeon'.
Political inquiries and scholarly can continue to bring light to it. Enquiries, especially by academics, will provide a source of pressure to show that the archive materials are important and relevant to the academic community so that a vital part of Cold War history is not lost.