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Author Topic: The Price of Tyranny & Totalitarianism  (Read 40573 times)
« on: July 28, 2009, 11:35:14 AM »

I hesitate to start a new topic as it would seem the sad tale relayed below should be able to be housed in a category already initiated. Still, as various utopian ideals concentrating power in the hands of the few at the cost of liberty are hard sold, it strikes me as a prime time to review instances where those ideals led to dystopian realities. Examples abound and are too darn depressing for me to catalog at the moment in full.

A book I encountered during my shift from a leftward leaner to libertarian was Avraham Shifrin's The First Guidebook to Prisons and Concentration Camps of the Soviet Union. It's difficult to communicate just how eye opening Shifrin's book was: here's a former political prisoner carefully cataloging information the former USSR was very interested in keeping secret, then smuggling it out and publishing it in a fairly crude form. Don't know what the original production run of the book was, though it couldn't be much of one and I recall it was difficult to lay hands on my copy.

Regardless, I was at a graduate student party with a bunch of University of Illinois students at one point in the mid-80s when I encountered a couple of Soviet fellow travelers who were dissing Reagan's "Evil Empire" speech in a condescending manner very much alive today. I joined the fray and began citing material from the The First Guidebook to Prisons, which put a damper on things but, as often the case, quieted rather than swayed the travelers. Be that as it may, as the evening wound down I was approached by a couple of Eastern European students who had kept quiet most the evening. With moist eyes they told me how refreshing it was to encounter an American aware of the true situation behind the then Iron Curtain, and how good it was to hear someone speak of facts they had to stand mute on lest the folks they left at home suffer for it. It's my hope that the material assembled here proves as transformational as the Guidebook was for me, provides a measure of solace to those who had to stand mute through a tyrants depredations, and warns those that would force their utopian dreams on the masses that nightmares are what emerge instead.

Remembering Government at Its Worst

Posted by Doug Bandow

The 20th Century featured many examples of genocide, mass murder, brutality, and other forms of human horror at the hands of totalitarian governments.  Perhaps none was worse — at least in terms of the proportion of the population slaughtered and resulting impact on the survivors — than Cambodia.

The commandant of the notorious S-21, or Tuol Sleng, is currently on trial.  The proceedings offer a stark reminder of what monstrosities cruel social engineers with guns can wreak.  Reports Reuters:

A senior Khmer Rouge prison guard on Thursday told a war crimes tribunal he was forced to send thousands of detainees to an execution site, where they were brutally killed and their bodies thrown into mass graves.

Him Huy, 54, a guard at Phnom Penh’s notorious S-21 prison, said he was ordered by Pol Pot’s chief jailor to transport prisoners to a rice field where they were stripped naked and beaten with clubs as they bled to death.

“All prisoners were blindfolded so they did not know where they were taken and their hands were tied up to prevent them from contesting us,” Huy told the joint United Nations-Cambodian tribunal.

“They were asked to sit on the edge of the pits and they were struck with stick on their necks,” he said, his voice breaking as he gave his harrowing account of the Choeung Ek executions.

“Their throats were slashed before we removed their handcuffs and clothes, and they were thrown into the pits.”

Huy was testifying against S-21 chief Duch, whose real name is Kaing Guek Eav, the first of the five indicted former Khmer Rouge cadres to face trial.

I’ve visited both Tuol Sleng and the so-called Killing Fields.  The experience is incredibly depressing and moving.  These sites should be mandatory viewing for anyone tempted to surrender his or her liberty, even to the most supposedly well-meaning politicians, bureaucrats, and activists.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2011, 12:13:22 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2009, 06:04:59 PM »

July 28, 2009
'In Case The Cabin Depressurizes, A Headband Will Fall On You'

There is a sense of outrage in Iran following the country's recent spate of air crashes.

People are blaming the government for poor maintenance and the sanctions against Iran that prevent the country from upgrading its air fleet. Iranian airlines have increasingly turned to Russian aircraft, which don't have the best safety record in the world.

There have also been a number of jokes satirizing Iran's air safety record making the rounds by email:

“With greetings to the soul of the founder of the Islamic Republic and Iran’s supreme leader and the president who shines at night, we welcome you to Iran Air and we hope you have a pleasant last trip."

“Please respect the Islamic hijab at all times, even when you’re thrown from the aircraft. For emergency, a kafan [a white shroud that is used for burying the dead in Iran] is under your seat. Please remove it and wear it after saying the Shahadatain [testimony that there is only one God and that no one deserves worship except Allah] and a prayer for the health of the leader of the revolution."

“In case you need a tissue to dry your tears, you better bring some because we don’t have any."

“In case the cabin depressurizes, a headband will fall on you, where it's written: ‘May my life be sacrificed for the Supreme Leader.' Immediately put it on and wrap it around your head in the style of a basij. While you're chanting the name of the Imam Hossein you’ll be thrown out from the emergency doors."

-- Golnaz Esfandiari
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2009, 03:18:31 PM »

What Soviet Medicine Teaches Us
Mises Daily by Yuri N. Maltsev | Posted on 8/21/2009 12:00:00 AM

In 1918, the Soviet Union became the first country to promise universal "cradle-to-grave" healthcare coverage, to be accomplished through the complete socialization of medicine. The "right to health" became a "constitutional right" of Soviet citizens.

The proclaimed advantages of this system were that it would "reduce costs" and eliminate the "waste" that stemmed from "unnecessary duplication and parallelism" — i.e., competition.

These goals were similar to the ones declared by Mr. Obama and Ms. Pelosi — attractive and humane goals of universal coverage and low costs. What's not to like?

The system had many decades to work, but widespread apathy and low quality of work paralyzed the healthcare system. In the depths of the socialist experiment, healthcare institutions in Russia were at least a hundred years behind the average US level. Moreover, the filth, odors, cats roaming the halls, drunken medical personnel, and absence of soap and cleaning supplies added to an overall impression of hopelessness and frustration that paralyzed the system. According to official Russian estimates, 78 percent of all AIDS victims in Russia contracted the virus through dirty needles or HIV-tainted blood in the state-run hospitals.

Irresponsibility, expressed by the popular Russian saying "They pretend they are paying us and we pretend we are working," resulted in appalling quality of service, widespread corruption, and extensive loss of life. My friend, a famous neurosurgeon in today's Russia, received a monthly salary of 150 rubles — one third of the average bus driver's salary.

In order to receive minimal attention by doctors and nursing personnel, patients had to pay bribes. I even witnessed a case of a "nonpaying" patient who died trying to reach a lavatory at the end of the long corridor after brain surgery. Anesthesia was usually "not available" for abortions or minor ear, nose, throat, and skin surgeries. This was used as a means of extortion by unscrupulous medical bureaucrats.

"Slavery certainly 'reduced costs' of labor, 'eliminated the waste' of bargaining for wages, and avoided 'unnecessary duplication and parallelism'."
To improve the statistics concerning the numbers of people dying within the system, patients were routinely shoved out the door before taking their last breath.

Being a People's Deputy in the Moscow region from 1987 to 1989, I received many complaints about criminal negligence, bribes taken by medical apparatchiks, drunken ambulance crews, and food poisoning in hospitals and child-care facilities. I recall the case of a fourteen-year-old girl from my district who died of acute nephritis in a Moscow hospital. She died because a doctor decided that it was better to save "precious" X-ray film (imported by the Soviets for hard currency) instead of double-checking his diagnosis. These X-rays would have disproven his diagnosis of neuropathic pain.

Instead, the doctor treated the teenager with a heat compress, which killed her almost instantly. There was no legal remedy for the girl's parents and grandparents. By definition, a single-payer system cannot allow any such remedy. The girl's grandparents could not cope with this loss and they both died within six months. The doctor received no official reprimand.

Not surprisingly, government bureaucrats and Communist Party officials, as early as 1921 (three years after Lenin's socialization of medicine), realized that the egalitarian system of healthcare was good only for their personal interest as providers, managers, and rationers — but not as private users of the system.

So, as in all countries with socialized medicine, a two-tier system was created: one for the "gray masses" and the other, with a completely different level of service, for the bureaucrats and their intellectual servants. In the USSR, it was often the case that while workers and peasants were dying in the state hospitals, the medicine and equipment that could save their lives was sitting unused in the nomenklatura system.

At the end of the socialist experiment, the official infant-mortality rate in Russia was more than 2.5 times as high as in the United States and more than five times that of Japan. The rate of 24.5 deaths per 1,000 live births was questioned recently by several deputies to the Russian Parliament, who claim that it is seven times higher than in the United States. This would make the Russian death rate 55 compared to the US rate of 8.1 per 1,000 live births.

Having said that, I should make it clear that the United States has one of the highest rates of the industrialized world only because it counts all dead infants, including premature babies, which is where most of the fatalities occur.

Most countries do not count premature-infant deaths. Some don't count any deaths that occur in the first 72 hours. Some countries don't even count any deaths from the first two weeks of life. In Cuba, which boasts a very low infant-mortality rate, infants are only registered when they are several months old, thereby leaving out of the official statistics all infant deaths that take place within the first several months of life.

In the rural regions of Karakalpakia, Sakha, Chechnya, Kalmykia, and Ingushetia, the infant mortality rate is close to 100 per 1,000 births, putting these regions in the same category as Angola, Chad, and Bangladesh. Tens of thousands of infants fall victim to influenza every year, and the proportion of children dying from pneumonia and tuberculosis is on the increase. Rickets, caused by a lack of vitamin D, and unknown in the rest of the modern world, is killing many young people.

Uterine damage is widespread, thanks to the 7.3 abortions the average Russian woman undergoes during childbearing years. Keeping in mind that many women avoid abortions altogether, the 7.3 average means that many women have a dozen or more abortions in their lifetime.

Even today, according to the State Statistics Committee, the average life expectancy for Russian men is less than 59 years — 58 years and 11 months — while that for Russian women is 72 years. The combined figure is 65 years and three months.[1] By comparison, the average life span for men in the United States is 73 years and for women 79 years. In the United States, life expectancy at birth for the total population has reached an all-time American high of 77.5 years, up from 49.2 years just a century ago. The Russian life expectancy at birth is 12 years lower.[2]

After seventy years of socialism, 57 percent of all Russian hospitals did not have running hot water, and 36 percent of hospitals located in rural areas of Russia did not have water or sewage at all. Isn't it amazing that socialist government, while developing space exploration and sophisticated weapons, would completely ignore the basic human needs of its citizens?

The appalling quality of service is not simply characteristic of "barbarous" Russia and other Eastern European nations: it is a direct result of the government monopoly on healthcare and it can happen in any country. In "civilized" England, for example, the waiting list for surgeries is nearly 800,000 out of a population of 55 million. State-of-the-art equipment is nonexistent in most British hospitals. In England, only 10 percent of the healthcare spending is derived from private sources.

Britain pioneered in developing kidney-dialysis technology, and yet the country has one of the lowest dialysis rates in the world. The Brookings Institution (hardly a supporter of free markets) found that every year 7,000 Britons in need of hip replacements, between 4,000 and 20,000 in need of coronary bypass surgery, and some 10,000 to 15,000 in need of cancer chemotherapy are denied medical attention in Britain.

Age discrimination is particularly apparent in all government-run or heavily regulated systems of healthcare. In Russia, patients over 60 are considered worthless parasites and those over 70 are often denied even elementary forms of healthcare.

In the United Kingdom, in the treatment of chronic kidney failure, those who are 55 years old are refused treatment at 35 percent of dialysis centers. Forty-five percent of 65-year-old patients at the centers are denied treatment, while patients 75 or older rarely receive any medical attention at these centers.

In Canada, the population is divided into three age groups in terms of their access to healthcare: those below 45, those 45–65, and those over 65. Needless to say, the first group, who could be called the "active taxpayers," enjoys priority treatment.

Advocates of socialized medicine in the United States use Soviet propaganda tactics to achieve their goals. Michael Moore is one of the most prominent and effective socialist propagandists in America. In his movie, Sicko, he unfairly and unfavorably compares health care for older patients in the United States with complex and incurable diseases to healthcare in France and Canada for young women having routine babies. Had he done the reverse — i.e., compared healthcare for young women in the United States having babies to older patients with complex and incurable diseases in socialized healthcare systems — the movie would have been the same, except that the US healthcare system would look ideal, and the UK, Canada, and France would look barbaric.

Now we in the United States are being prepared for discrimination in treatment of the elderly when it comes to healthcare. Ezekiel Emanuel is director of the Clinical Bioethics Department at the US National Institutes of Health and an architect of Obama's healthcare-reform plan. He is also the brother of Rahm Emanuel, Obama's White House chief of staff. Foster Friess reports that Ezekiel Emanuel has written that health services should not be guaranteed to

individuals who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens. An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia.[3]
An equally troubling article, coauthored by Emanuel, appeared in the medical journal The Lancet in January 2009. The authors write that

unlike allocation [of healthcare] by sex or race, allocation by age is not invidious discrimination; every person lives through different life stages rather than being a single age. Even if 25-year-olds receive priority over 65-year-olds, everyone who is 65 years now was previously 25 years. Treating 65-year-olds differently because of stereotypes or falsehoods would be ageist; treating them differently because they have already had more life-years is not.[4]

Socialized medicine will create massive government bureaucracies — similar to our unified school districts — impose costly job-destroying mandates on employers to provide the coverage, and impose price controls that will inevitably lead to shortages and poor quality of service. It will also lead to nonprice rationing (i.e., rationing based on political considerations, corruption, and nepotism) of healthcare by government bureaucrats.

Real "savings" in a socialized healthcare system could be achieved only by squeezing providers and denying care — there is no other way to save. The same arguments were used to defend the cotton farming in the South prior to the Civil War. Slavery certainly "reduced costs" of labor, "eliminated the waste" of bargaining for wages, and avoided "unnecessary duplication and parallelism."

In supporting the call for socialized medicine, American healthcare professionals are like sheep demanding the wolf: they do not understand that the high cost of medical care in the United States is partially based on the fact that American healthcare professionals have the highest level of remuneration in the world. Another source of the high cost of our healthcare is existing government regulations on the industry, regulations that prevent competition from lowering the cost. Existing rules such as "certificates of need," licensing, and other restrictions on the availability of healthcare services prevent competition and, therefore, result in higher prices and fewer services.

Socialized medical systems have not served to raise general health or living standards anywhere. In fact, both analytical reasoning and empirical evidence point to the opposite conclusion. But the dismal failure of socialized medicine to raise people's health and longevity has not affected its appeal for politicians, administrators, and their intellectual servants in search of absolute power and total control.

Most countries enslaved by the Soviet empire moved out of a fully socialized system through privatization and insuring competition in the healthcare system. Others, including many European social democracies, intend to privatize the healthcare system in the long run and decentralize medical control. The private ownership of hospitals and other units is seen as a critical determining factor of the new, more efficient, and humane system.

Yuri N. Maltsev, senior fellow of the Mises Institute, worked as an economist on Mikhail Gorbachev's economic reform team before defecting to the United States. He is the editor of Requiem for Marx. He teaches economics at Carthage College. Send him mail. See his article archives. Comment on the blog.
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2010, 11:21:35 AM »

Looks pretty interesting:

Power User
Posts: 42556

« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2010, 11:05:33 PM »

I'd love to see discussion of this in the Glenn Beck thread.
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2010, 07:06:20 PM »

Astounding series of short films shot in North Korea:
« Last Edit: January 24, 2010, 01:50:49 PM by Body-by-Guinness » Logged
Power User
Posts: 42556

« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2010, 11:32:26 AM »

These URLs are not working for me , , ,
« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2010, 01:51:15 PM »

Whups, they truncated. Should work now.
« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2010, 12:46:34 PM »

Among Hitler's Executioners on the Eastern Front

As a young woman, Annette Schücking-Homeyer served as a Red Cross volunteer on the Eastern Front in Ukraine. In an interview with SPIEGEL, the retired judge discusses the horrors committed against the Jews there, how everyone knew about them and why, even after the war, most people just wanted to forget.

SPIEGEL: After World War II, most Germans denied having known about the Holocaust. From 1941 to 1943, you were a volunteer with the German Red Cross behind the lines on the Eastern Front. When did you discover that Jews were being murdered?

Annette Schücking-Homeyer: In the train on the way to the front. It was October 1941. I had been sent with another nurse to run a so-called soldiers' home in Zwiahel, a small city 200 kilometers (125 miles) west of Kiev. After Brest-Litovsk, two soldiers joined us in our compartment, but I don't remember whether they were with the SS or just regular soldiers. All of a sudden, one of them told us how he had been ordered to shoot a woman in Brest. He said the woman had begged for mercy, pleading that she had to take care of her handicapped sister. He had someone get the sister, and then he shot them both. We were horrified, but we didn't say anything.

SPIEGEL: Was the man trying to show off?

Schücking-Homeyer: I don't know.

SPIEGEL: Before you arrived in Zwiahel, the city's Jewish community -- which had numbered in the thousands -- was annihilated. When did you learn of this?

Schücking-Homeyer: On the day we got there, an older officer told us that there weren't any more Jews, that they were all dead and that their houses were empty.

SPIEGEL: Did the man tell you this in private?

Schücking-Homeyer: No, he told us at the dinner table. I described it in a letter I sent to my parents soon thereafter. I also wrote that other nurses had told me that I had shouted in my sleep: "But that's impossible, it's completely impossible, it's against all international laws."

SPIEGEL: What did the town look like?

Schücking-Homeyer: The houses that had belonged to the Jews were ransacked, and you could often find Hebrew texts lying in the dirt on the floors. We were told that we could find nice Jewish candlesticks there. One of the officers took one home with him.

SPIEGEL: Did you see any mass graves?

Schücking-Homeyer: One day, the director of the combat engineering staff offered to show us the historic fortifications of Zwiahel. He pointed to a spot on the bank of the Sluch River and said that 450 Jewish men, women and children were buried there. I didn't say anything in response.

SPIEGEL: Do you know how many people were killed in Zwiahel?

Schücking-Homeyer: A few local Ukrainian girls helped us out in the soldiers' home; they said 10,000 people had been murdered. In any case, it was a large number, as I realized a few weeks later when the National Socialist People's Welfare (NSV) opened a huge clothing warehouse in Zwiahel. Since our Ukrainian helpers always had so little to wear, one of the officers asked me if they wanted to have any of the clothes. So I went there with the girls. There was a lot of children's clothing. Some of our girls didn't want to take anything; others said "Heil Hitler" when thanking the soldiers. I wrote to my mother about it and immediately informed her nurses in Hamburg that under no circumstances should they take any clothing from the NSV -- because it was coming from murdered Jews.

SPIEGEL: Did you ever witness any of these crimes with your own eyes?

Schücking-Homeyer: No. But it almost happened once. Every week, I would travel to Rivne, about 100 kilometers away, to pick up food and beer for the soldiers' home. There was a large ghetto there. One day -- it was in July 1942 -- the brewery where many Jews had worked was closed for business. Then we drove through the ghetto, but it was deserted. It had apparently been cleared just a short time before. And then we saw Germans soldiers herding together women and children who had apparently been hiding. There was no doubt that they were about to be shot. When I got back to Zwiahel, I was still crying. All I wanted to do was go home.

SPIEGEL: Rivne saw several waves of murder, and thousands were killed. Do you know anything about the circumstances?

Schücking-Homeyer: I would often go to the office of the military administration in Rivne to pick up ration coupon books. The soldiers discussed the resettlements so nonchalantly that I had to ask. "What's this resettlement all about?" I would ask. "When do they find out about it…"

SPIEGEL: At that point, had you already figured out that "resettlement" was just a polite way of saying "murdering Jews"?

Schücking-Homeyer: Yes, but I don't remember exactly when and how I found out. At any rate, the people at the military administration in Rivne said: "We are notified on the evening before it happens that a resettlement is going to take place at a specific location, and that it could get violent. The locally stationed troops aren't supposed to worry about it or get involved." Today, we know that special task forces and police officers carried out the shootings.

SPIEGEL: Did you also talk to any of these men in the soldiers' home?

Schücking-Homeyer: I can't say. They were all wearing uniforms and did everything that normal soldiers do.

'Oh, What an Enormous Slaughterhouse the World Is'

SPIEGEL: On Nov. 5, 1941, you wrote to your parents: "What Papa says is true: people with no moral inhibitions exude a strange odor. I can now pick out these people, and many of them really do smell like blood. Oh, what an enormous slaughterhouse the world is." Did you think you could detect the murderers?

Schücking-Homeyer: Yes, at least I thought so at the time. If you are a master over life and death, you behave and move differently than other people do. You give off the impression that you are the one making all the decisions.

SPIEGEL: Did you avoid these men?

Schücking-Homeyer: Well, you could at least choose the people you wanted to talk to.

SPIEGEL: Your letters contain many passages like "But the Jews, who ran most of the shops, are all dead" or "There aren't any more Jews here in Zwiahel." You write nothing about killing or murder. Were you afraid you might be censored?

Schücking-Homeyer: Of course. You know, I was an anxious girl. I wrote to my mother -- who was completely different from me -- that she wouldn't have lasted there a day. And I'm sure she would've found a way to get away from there. By staying there, you were basically supporting the system. But I didn't know what reason I could give for wanting to leave, and I needed a permit to go back to Germany.

SPIEGEL: Do you think your family got your hints?

Schücking-Homeyer: Of course.

SPIEGEL: Could you talk about these things with the other nurses?

Schücking-Homeyer: No, we didn't discuss such things.

SPIEGEL: But did everyone know what was going on?

Schücking-Homeyer: I can't say for sure whether soldiers at the front knew. But everyone behind the lines -- and especially those who'd been there for a while -- knew about it.

SPIEGEL: What makes you so sure?

Schücking-Homeyer: Because, in conversation, it was always assumed that everyone knew. I haven't told you yet, but one day I was in a car with a sergeant named Frank. He said he was from Münster and that he was going to be part of a major campaign in the coming weeks in which people would be executed by firing squad. He said he was doing it because he wanted a promotion. I told him not to do it, that he wouldn't be able to sleep afterwards.


Schücking-Homeyer: He did it anyway, and later he complained to me about not being able to sleep and about how bad he felt. "I told you so," I replied.

SPIEGEL: Why do you think he confided in you?

Schücking-Homeyer: Oftentimes, conversations with soldiers got personal fast. They were all men who hadn't been around women for a long time. There were the Ukrainian women, of course, but they couldn't talk to them -- and they all had an intense need to talk. On another occasion, I was riding in a truck when, all of a sudden, the driver started telling me that in Kasatin, a village southwest of Kiev, they had allowed several hundred Jews to go hungry for two days before shooting them to death because the firing squads had been busy working somewhere else.

SPIEGEL: And that was just something he said to you in private?

Schücking-Homeyer: Yes. But there was another story that everyone knew about. German farmers controlled the Zwiahel area, one of whom was a certain Mr. Nägel from Hesse. There was an oft-told story about how one time, when a group of Jews was being herded past the house, his housekeeper -- who was also a Jew -- laughed. He reportedly then pushed her into the line with the other Jews. It didn't take long for me to figure out that I was dealing with criminals.

SPIEGEL: You wrote to your mother: "Soon, I'll get to the point where I'm past all the justified outrage, and then it'll be much easier for me to process things. Even the most decent people here have already reached that point. Once you don't have to see everything -- and, in general, things are already over here -- you can forget. But I still get terribly upset when I see a child and know that it'll be dead in 2-3 days." It reads as if you were searching for a way to deal with the horrible things that were happening.

Schücking-Homeyer: I don't remember exactly. I might have also written that to mislead the censors.

SPIEGEL: Of course, your letters also contain passages that lead one to believe that you let yourself be infected by your surroundings.

Schücking-Homeyer: No. My father had been an attorney, but he had been barred from practicing since 1933, so I was very afraid of censorship. I was never an anti-Semite. On the contrary, on several occasions later in the war, we helped out persecuted Jews.

'Former Nazis Were Everywhere'

SPIEGEL: After the war, what did you do with your knowledge about what had happened in Zwiahel?

Schücking-Homeyer: I had concluded that soldiers would file legal complaints, but then I didn't hear anything about it. And so, in 1945, I suggested to the public prosecutor in Münster -- who had trained me in 1943 and was the senior public prosecutor by then -- that he should take legal steps to prevent evidence from being destroyed. After all, at the time, the facts were all still available, including information about which units … were stationed there. But he responded that we should leave it up to the English. I suppose he was too cowardly. Three or four weeks later, I informed the Jewish community in Dortmund, where I was living at the time, but no one there was interested, either.

SPIEGEL: And later?

Schücking-Homeyer: It was impossible to talk about it openly in the court system with any colleagues who had been in the East. Former Nazis were everywhere. It wasn't until a few years before I retired that the subject of Zwiahel came up again. In 1974, I was a judge at a social welfare court in Detmold. I was handed a retirement pension insurance case that had to do with an ethnic German who wanted credit for his service in 1941 with the German police in Zwiahel. He had been part of the so-called Ukrainian protective team, which I assumed had taken part in the so-called resettlements. I wrote to him that I knew exactly what had happened in Zwiahel in October 1941 and that it would be better for him to file a challenge against my taking the case on the grounds that I was biased. He did so right away. My substitute gave him the credit, as the law unfortunately required.

SPIEGEL: You didn't report the man to the police?

Schücking-Homeyer: No, he was just a little cog in the wheel. But then I contacted the central office in Ludwigsburg to find out whether it had investigated the murders in Zwiahel yet (ed's note: The Central Office of the State Justice Administration for the Investigation of National Socialist Crimes has been located in this southwestern German city since 1958). Then, when I testified, I told them everything I knew. Still, as a witness, I could only testify against Sergeant Frank. But he couldn't be located.

Interview conducted by Martin Doerry and Klaus Wiegrefe

« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2010, 06:50:11 PM »

Human bones could reveal truth of Japan's 'Unit 731' experiments
More than 60 years after the end of the Second World War, the name "Unit 731" still has the power to generate shock, revulsion and denial in Japan.
By Julian Ryall in Tokyo
Published: 7:00AM GMT 15 Feb 2010
Previous1 of 2 ImagesNext

Some excavated bones bore the marks of saws and some of the skulls had drill holes and portions of the bone cut out Photo: AFP/GETTTY

The Imperial Japanese Army's notorious medical research team carried out secret human experiments regarded as some of the worst war crimes in history.
Its scientists subjected more than 10,000 people per year to grotesque Josef Mengele-style torture in the name of science, including captured Russian soldiers and downed American aircrews.
The experiments included hanging people upside down until they choked, burying them alive, injecting air into their veins and placing them in high-pressure chambers.
Now new detail about their victims' suffering could be revealed after the authorities in Tokyo announced plans to open an investigation into human bones thought to have come from the unit.

A new search is also due to be carried out for mass graves that may contain more victims of human experiments.

The bones are thought to be from up to 100 people and were discovered in a mass grave in 1989 during construction work.

They bore the marks of saws and some of the skulls had drill holes and portions of the bone cut out. But the issue is so controversial in Japan that they have since been stored in a repository.

Acting on information from a former nurse, the authorities have announced they will re-examine the remains to determine whether they were used in some of the barbaric experiments carried out by Unit 731 in the dying days of the Second World War.

Toyo Ishii came forward to say that during the weeks after Japan's surrender in August 1945, she and her colleagues at the army hospital were ordered to bury corpses, bones and body parts – she said it was impossible to determine how many people they came from – before the Allies arrived.

In an interview, she claimed that the hospital had three mortuaries where bodies with numbered tags around their necks were stored in a pool of formalin to preserve them before they were dissected. Organs and other body parts were preserved in glass jars. The sites that Ishii pinpointed as the mass graves will now be excavated.

The remains were found on the site of an apartment complex in the Shinjuku district of the city which is scheduled for redevelopment. It means the search is likely to be the last effort to identify the victims and determine their fate.

An investigation after the remains were found in 1989 concluded they were mostly non-Japanese Asians and had probably been used in "medial education" or taken to the medical school from battlefields overseas for analysis. The health ministry has repeatedly denied requests from relatives of several Chinese whose relatives are believed to have died in Unit 731 experiments to have DNA tests carried out on the bones.

Unit 731 was mostly active in China, where it carried out biological, bacteriological and chemical weapons tests on civilians and prisoners of war, including Russian soldiers and Americans.

Others were subject to live vivisections, exposed to extreme cold or killed in tests in pressure chambers.

The extreme right wing in Japan refuses to accept that the unit was anything more than a sanitation team that operated behind the front-line troops while virtually nothing on its activities is mentioned in school history books. Many of the scientists involved in Unit 731 went on to have careers in politics, academia, business, and medicine.

"Most people do not believe it even happened; the rest just want to cover it up and forget about what Japan did during the war," said Tsuyoshi Amemiya, a retired military historian. "Young people don't know and they don't want to know."
« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2010, 03:12:57 PM »

The Green Death

Who is the worst killer in the long, ugly history of war and extermination? Hitler? Stalin? Pol Pot? Not even close. A single book called Silent Spring killed far more people than all those fiends put together.

Published in 1962, Silent Spring used manipulated data and wildly exaggerated claims (sound familiar?) to push for a worldwide ban on the pesticide known as DDT – which is, to this day, the most effective weapon against malarial mosquitoes. The Environmental Protection Agency held extensive hearings after the uproar produced by this book… and these hearings concluded that DDT should not be banned. A few months after the hearings ended, EPA administrator William Ruckleshaus over-ruled his own agency and banned DDT anyway, in what he later admitted was a “political” decision. Threats to withhold American foreign aid swiftly spread the ban across the world.

The resulting explosion of mosquito-borne malaria in Africa has claimed over sixty million lives. This was not a gradual process – a surge of infection and death happened almost immediately. The use of DDT reduces the spread of mosquito-borne malaria by fifty to eighty percent, so its discontinuation quickly produced an explosion of crippling and fatal illness. The same environmental movement which has been falsifying data, suppressing dissent, and reading tea leaves to support the global-warming fraud has studiously ignored this blood-drenched “hockey stick” for decades.

The motivation behind Silent Spring, the suppression of nuclear power, the global-warming scam, and other outbreaks of environmentalist lunacy is the worship of centralized power and authority. The author, Rachel Carson, didn’t set out to kill sixty million people – she was a fanatical believer in the newly formed religion of radical environmentalism, whose body count comes from callousness, rather than blood thirst. The core belief of the environmental religion is the fundamental uncleanliness of human beings. All forms of human activity are bad for the environment… most especially including the activity of large private corporations. Deaths in faraway Africa barely registered on the radar screen of the growing Green movement, especially when measured against the exhilarating triumph of getting a sinful pesticide banned, at substantial cost to an evil corporation.

Those who were initiated into the higher mysteries of environmentalism saw the reduction of the human population as a benefit, although they’re generally more circumspect about saying so in public these days. As quoted by Walter Williams, the founder of the Malthusian Club of Rome, Alexander King, wrote in 1990: “My own doubts came when DDT was introduced. In Guayana, within two years, it had almost eliminated malaria. So my chief quarrel with DDT, in hindsight, is that it has greatly added to the population problem.” Another charming quote comes from Dr. Charles Wurster, a leading opponent of DDT, who said of malaria deaths: “People are the cause of all the problems. We have too many of them. We need to get rid of some of them, and this is as good a way as any.”

Like the high priests of global warming, Rachel Carson knew what she was doing. She claimed DDT would actually destroy all life on Earth if its use continued – the “silent spring” of the title is a literal description of the epocalypse she forecast. She misused a quote from Albert Schweitzer about atomic warfare, implying the late doctor agreed with her crusade against pesticide by dedicating her book to him… when, in fact, Schweitzer viewed DDT as a “ray of hope” against disease-carrying insects. Some of the scientists attempting to debunk her hysteria went so far as to eat chunks of DDT to prove it was harmless, but she and her allies simply ignored them, making these skeptics the forerunners of today’s “global warming deniers” – absolutely correct and utterly vilified. William Ruckleshaus disregarded nine thousand pages of testimony when he imposed the DDT ban. Then as now, the science was settled… beneath a mass of politics and ideology.

Another way Silent Spring forecast the global-warming fraud was its insistence that readers ignore the simple evidence of reality around them. One of the founding myths of modern environmentalism was Carson’s assertion that bird eggs developed abnormally thin shells due to DDT exposure, leading the chicks to be crushed before they could hatch. As detailed in this American Spectator piece from 2005, no honest experimental attempt to produce this phenomenon has ever succeeded – even when using concentrations of DDT a hundred times greater than anything that could be encountered in nature. Carson claimed thin egg shells were bringing the robin and bald eagle to the edge of extinction… even as the bald eagle population doubled, and robins filled the trees. Today, those eagles and robins shiver in a blanket of snow caused by global warming.

The DDT ban isn’t the only example of environmental extremism coming with a stack of body bags. Mandatory gas mileage standards cause about 2,000 deaths per year, by compelling automakers to produce lighter, more fragile cars. The biofuel mania has led resources to be shifted away from growing food crops, resulting in higher food prices and starvation. Worst of all, the economic damage inflicted by the environmentalist religion directly correlates to life-threatening reductions in the human standard of living. The recent earthquake in Haiti is only the latest reminder that poverty kills, and collectivist politics are the most formidable engine of poverty on Earth.

Environmental extremism is a breathless handmaiden for collectivism. It pours a layer of smooth, creamy science over a relentless hunger for power. Since the boogeymen of the Green movement threaten the very Earth itself with imminent destruction, the environmentalist feels morally justified in suspending democracy and seizing the liberty of others. Of course we can’t put these matters to a vote! The dimwitted hicks in flyover country can’t understand advanced biochemistry or climate science. They might vote the wrong way, and we can’t risk the consequences! The phantom menaces of the Green movement can only be battled by a mighty central State. Talk of representation, property rights, and even free speech is madness when such a threat towers above the fragile ecosphere, wheezing pollutants and coughing out a stream of dead birds and drowned polar bears. You can see why the advocates of Big Government would eagerly race across a field of sustainable, organic grass to sweep environmentalists into their arms, and spin them around in the ozone-screened sunlight.

Green philosophy provides vital nourishment for the intellectual vanity of leftists, who get to pat themselves on the back for saving the world through the control-freak statism they longed to impose anyway. One of the reasons for the slow demise of the climate-change nonsense is that it takes a long time to let so much air out of so many egos. Calling “deniers” stupid and unpatriotic was very fulfilling. Likewise, you’ll find modern college campuses teeming with students – and teachers – who will fiercely insist that DDT thins egg shells and causes cancer. Environmentalism is a primitive religion which thrives by telling its faithful they’re too sophisticated for mere common sense.

The legacy of Silent Spring provides an object lesson in the importance of bringing the global-warming con artists to trial. No one was ever forced to answer for the misery inflicted by that book, or the damage it dealt to serious science. Today Rachel Carson is still celebrated as a hero, the secular saint who transformed superstition and hysteria into a Gospel for the modern god-state. The tactics she deployed against DDT resurfaced a decade later, in the Alar scare. It’s a strategy that offers great reward, and very little risk. We need to increase the risk factor, and frighten the next generation of junk scientists into being more careful with their research. If we don’t, the Church of Global Warming will just reappear in a few years, wearing new vestments and singing new hymms… but still offering the same communion of poverty, tyranny, and death.
Cross-posted at
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Posts: 7840

« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2010, 05:24:13 PM »

Marc Levin talks about the DDT fraud in his best seller, "Liberty and Tyranny".
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« Reply #12 on: February 17, 2010, 08:12:33 PM »

Question (and it is meant sincerely):  What about PCB's?  Fraud, Menance, or , , ,?
« Reply #13 on: February 17, 2010, 08:27:28 PM »

Question (and it is meant sincerely):  What about PCB's?  Fraud, Menance, or , , ,?

Marc, try this:
« Reply #14 on: May 29, 2010, 02:16:42 PM »

When Germ Warfare Happened
Seventy years ago, Japan’s bio-attacks killed hundreds of thousands. The effects linger today.

Jiang Chun Geng, a survivor of Japan’s war on China
Jiang Chun Geng’s poisoned right leg, with its suppurating wounds, hangs limply over the gray wooden bench in the medical clinic here in Dachen, a village in China’s province of Zhejiang. Twice the size of his left leg, the limb is too tender to touch during my visit. Instead, Dr. Zhu Jian Jun gently dabs the putrid wounds with an alcohol-drenched swab. Jiang’s heavily lined face tightens as Zhu wraps the fiery stump with a white bandage and unhooks an intravenous antibiotic drip. Another treatment is over.

Jiang, a 70-year-old farmer, can’t remember a time when flesh-eating ulcers didn’t cover his legs. “They never go away,” he tells me. “They just get drier. Sometimes they hurt less.” He doesn’t know for sure how he got them, but his father told him that the wounds first appeared in July 1942, soon after the Japanese army passed through his village. His entire family developed the festering sores. His mother and younger brother died in unbearable pain a decade later as the untreated, mysterious infection crept up their legs.

Jiang is one of 15 elderly Chinese men and women whom Zhu is treating in his simple village clinic for what locals label “rotten leg disease.” A definitive diagnosis is no longer possible so many decades after the initial exposure and secondary infections. But Chinese, American, and other Western physicians who have examined the survivors, documented their histories, and photographed their wounds claim that they are victims of the most gruesome biological warfare attacks in modern history.

These attacks, orchestrated by Japan’s infamous Unit 731 between 1932 and 1945, are the only documented mass use of germ weapons in modern times. Scholars say that we will never know exactly how many were killed. Sheldon H. Harris, the late American historian, estimated in a pioneering work that between 10,000 and 12,000 Chinese prisoners perished in the bloodcurdling experiments that Unit 731 performed in Japanese-occupied Manchuria. Another 300,000 to 500,000 civilians died, he wrote, as a result of Japan’s massive germ assaults on more than 70 Chinese cities and towns. China itself has disclosed no official tally. In fact, for many years, Japan’s use of biological weapons in China was largely forgotten. Only recently has a resurgent China begun to remind Japan—and the world—of the atrocities.

In America, the historical amnesia has a Cold War source, argues Jeanne Guillemin, a political analyst at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After World War II ended, the United States and the Soviet Union sought information about Japanese germ experimentation for their own covert bioweapons efforts. In 1947, American officials secretly agreed to grant immunity from war-crimes prosecution to the head of Japan’s program, Major General Shiro Ishii, and to 18 other biowarfare scientists in exchange for intelligence. As Harris recounted, Japanese pathologists gave U.S. officials some 8,000 slides of human tissues and blood samples taken from autopsied victims, as well as knowledge about the warheads and bombs that Japan had designed to spread its killer germs.

While several American military historians and scientists have downplayed the value of the Japanese data, a U.S. military document unearthed by Guillemin called the information “of the highest intelligence value,” though before it underwent full analysis. The Japanese program had to remain secret, another military document concluded (in diplomatic understatement), “to protect the interests of the United States and to guard against embarrassment.” Only after America and the Soviet Union (the Soviets only putatively) ended their offensive germ-weapons programs in the late 1960s and signed a treaty banning pathogens as offensive weapons in 1972 did significant amounts of evidence about the arrangement become public.

A second foreign-policy consideration also helps explain America’s deal and ensuing silence, Guillemin points out. American officials believed that prosecuting Japanese scientists for war crimes that the widely revered emperor himself might have authorized would jeopardize Washington’s effort to rebuild Japan as a stable democracy, “crucial to offsetting the Soviet presence in Asia and the rise of Communist China,” she writes. Indeed, General Douglas MacArthur personally intervened to protect Japanese scientists who had worked on the program from prosecution.

Though President Clinton ordered U.S. government agencies in 2000 to make more than 100,000 pages of official documents on the program available to scholars, key questions remain—for instance, which American official authorized the arrangement with the Japanese biowarriors. The answers are unlikely to be found in Japan, whose own archives on the initiative remain largely closed to public scrutiny.

As for China itself, historically it has vacillated between stoking anti-Japanese nationalism and trying to dampen it, depending on its political needs. For instance, China once estimated that 10 million of its citizens died during Japan’s traumatizing occupation of eastern China and Manchuria—the “Anti-Japanese War of 1931 Through 1945,” as China calls it. Then, after the Tiananmen Square crisis, China raised the estimate to 35 million, seeking to divert attention from domestic discontent. But it’s surely the case, observes Susan L. Shirk, a former State Department official and the author of China, Fragile Superpower, that almost every Chinese family suffered under the onslaught.

Only now that China has emerged as Asia’s leading power has it begun to highlight Japan’s biological crimes against it. The focal point of this effort is the Unit 731 Museum, just south of the city of Harbin in Manchuria. Built on the ruins of a cluster of ten villages known as Ping Fan, the museum occupies what was once the headquarters of Japan’s germ empire. Constructed by Chinese slave laborers in 1936, Unit 731, whose Orwellian cover name was the “Epidemic Prevention and Water Supply Unit,” was a vast laboratory complex of 3.7 square miles with more than 70 buildings—laboratories, officers’ housing, a Buddhist temple, an airfield and railway station, three crematoria to dispose of experimentation victims, a prison, a power plant, and even a brothel to service the 3,000 Japanese scientists and guards who lived and worked there during its peak. Behind the complex’s high, heavily guarded walls, Major General Ishii’s scientists experimented on Chinese, Americans, Koreans, Mongolians, Russians, and others with some of the world’s deadliest germs.

The museum’s main exhibition hall, located in Unit 731’s administration building, describes Ishii’s program and takes visitors through the procedures that his medical team followed in processing doomed inmates. Maruta, or “logs,” as the Japanese scientists dubbed their victims, would be registered, given numbers, and later dragged from their cells through underground tunnels into the testing labs at the compound’s center. Here, Sheldon Harris reported, they would have to eat food laced with one of 31 germs—anthrax-filled chocolate, plague-treated cookies, typhus-infected beer—or be injected directly with deadly pathogens to determine the minimal dose required to sicken or kill them. The “logs” usually lasted only a few weeks. Some were “sacrificed” after unit officials deemed them no longer fit for scientific study. Only a few survived for as long as six months, Unit 731 documents show.

Room Six of the museum contains a display of the high- and low-altitude bombs that the Japanese developed to disseminate their lethal cargo. One bomb included a porcelain cylinder to prevent germs from destruction on impact. Another was called “Mother and Daughters”—the Mother part of the weapon coming with a radio device that would detonate a cluster of germ-loaded Daughter bombs. That weapon proved too expensive for mass production, Harris observed. But other types of anthrax-, plague-, and bacteria-filled bombs were tested on hundreds of prisoners, who were tied to stakes in the ground and died in agony.

Room Nine displays fragmentary evidence of Japan’s “fascistic guilt which cannot be denied,” as the museum puts it: a wooden saw for dismembering human remains and racks for hanging entrails fresh from autopsies, some performed while the victims remained alive to ensure that death didn’t alter the disease’s impact on the organ or bones under study. I recalled interviewing an elderly Japanese soldier several years earlier who told me that he had performed vivisections, without anesthetic, on naked prisoners. Describing in almost a whisper his revulsion the first time he picked up his scalpel when ordered to do so, he said that he eventually grew accustomed to the “procedure.” But his anguish suggested otherwise.

The museum’s holdings are necessarily limited. When the Japanese had to flee Ping Fan in 1945, they attempted to destroy all traces of their crimes against humanity—as the Nuremberg tribunal called similar experiments performed by Nazi doctors in Europe—by killing the last 400 prisoners, setting infected animals free, and blowing up the complex.

Dr. Jin Cheng Ming, the museum’s director, is cautious about death-toll estimates. The museum has been able to identify only 277 of the thousands of prisoners who came here, he said, mostly from the records kept by the Japanese transportation units that delivered them. But his estimates, which draw on provincial records and archives, are comparable with Harris’s. In his Chinese-language book on the program, published in 2008, Jin concluded that so much of the widely dispersed program was secret that the death toll might remain uncertain even if Japan cooperated. “Maybe the Japanese know exact numbers,” he says. “Or maybe your government does, since Japan shared so many records with you.” In 2006, he adds, the U.S. gave China access to about 2,000 more pages of declassified records, but most were from late in the program. He and his staff have made 17 trips to Japan to collect oral evidence from former members of Unit 731. “It’s hard because Japan is not sympathetic,” he says. But part of the museum’s mission is to videotape such testimonies for its collection, which now features over 200 hours of them.

After opening in 1985 with a one-room exhibit and a staff of three, the museum languished for years. Few foreigners or even Chinese came here. Today, though, it bustles with activity and is undergoing a vast expansion. Thirty-one sites are being excavated or renovated in and around the museum, which received more than 6 million visitors last year, about half of them Chinese schoolchildren. The Chinese government has tripled the museum’s budget, and its staff has grown to 40.

The feverish activity is part of Jin’s campaign to have the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization designate his museum a cultural-heritage monument—joining another infamous death complex, Poland’s Auschwitz. UNESCO sent a team to the museum late last summer to examine the site, and Jin is optimistic that the organization will eventually add his museum to its list. “While we still have many questions, we have so much more evidence than we had before,” he tells me. “People must know and face their history. And the Japanese government should be responsible for its actions.”

« Reply #15 on: May 29, 2010, 02:17:25 PM »

As horrifying as the experiments performed at Unit 731’s headquarters were, they pale beside the horrors that Japan inflicted on the Chinese population at large. As we travel by bullet train from Shanghai deep into the province of Zhejiang, activist Wang Xuan tells me that the worst attacks occurred between 1940 and 1943, when the Japanese military struck dozens of Chinese cities and towns with pathogens that triggered recurring plague epidemics and killed hundreds of thousands.

The methods were brutal. Army trucks dumped gallons of deadly germs alongside roads and railway lines linking Chinese towns so that infections would spread from town to town; planes dropped porcelain bombs containing infected fleas on dozens of villages, causing devastating outbreaks of bubonic plague. The Japanese laced more than 1,000 wells in the area of Harbin with typhoid bacilli. They also inserted typhus into bottles of lemonade that children loved to drink in the summer, Harris reported. In Nanking, they distributed anthrax-filled chocolate and cake to hungry children. The Japanese discovered that packing fountain pens and walking sticks with deadly germs was a particularly effective way of secretly disseminating them. In 1940, Major General Ishii sent a train carrying 70 kilograms of typhus bacterium, 50 kilograms of cholera germs, and 5 kilograms of plague-infected fleas to the city of Hangzhou, a holiday resort favored by Shanghai’s wealthy. From there, the germs were dumped into ponds and reservoirs and spread by aerial spraying, contaminating all life in fields of wheat and millet during the harvest.

As our train pulls into the station, Wang Xuan tells me that near here, over the small town of Quzhou, a Japanese plane dropped plague-infected fleas in October 1940. The first victims died a few days later. By 1948, more than 5,000 people had perished. Prior to that outbreak, no case of plague had ever been reported in the town, says Dr. Qiu Ming Xuan, former chief of the Quzhou Center for Disease Control.

That fact proved important in 1997, Wang explains, when she helped organize a lawsuit against Japan for spreading bubonic plague and other fatal diseases across China. Still, the town’s plague-free earlier history—as well as oral histories from elderly residents of Chongshan, a town near Quzhou, and epidemiological data from local and provincial files—might not have been sufficient to persuade the court to side with the Chinese plaintiffs, since biological samples from the 1940 attack were no longer available. But Chongshan’s survivors submitted to the court an original document: the working diary of a senior Japanese military officer, then stationed in Nanjing, responsible for contacts between his forces and Unit 731. The diary mentioned a plague attack on Quzhou on October 4, 1940—a date that coincided perfectly with the plague’s spread from Quzhou to Chongshan.

In 2002, the Japanese court finally ruled that Japan had indeed used biological weapons against China—the first such official acknowledgment. But the court also ruled that the Chinese were not entitled to compensation under international law. Nor did Tokyo itself acknowledge having used germ weapons during the war or apologize to the Chinese victims. Since then, a succession of Japanese governments has remained silent about the crimes.

Sufferers from “rotten leg disease” have no comparable diary entry or official Japanese source that could prove to a court that their suffering was related to Japan’s germ-weapons attacks. Indeed, even some Japanese researchers sympathetic to China challenge the claim that Japan’s biowarfare caused the disease. Keiichi Tsuneishi, a distinguished Japanese historian who helped uncover Japan’s atrocities in China, says that a bacterium native to the region could have been responsible, and he estimates that pathogens killed no more than 1,000 Chinese in the province of Zhejiang.

Wang Xuan responds that Tsuneishi is neither a biologist nor a physician and that he has never visited the affected regions. Refusing to yield to such challengers, she recruited four university students last summer to interview “rotten leg” survivors of the 1942 outbreak and to locate more victims. According to both Qiu and the students, in the villages surrounding the small city of Jinhua in central Zhejiang, 5 percent of the residents born before 1942 described having developed raw, festering wounds on their legs similar to those of the patients I saw.

In Blood-Weeping Accusations, a book in Chinese and English published by the Chinese Communist Party in 2005, some Chinese researchers conclude that anthrax caused the wounds. But at least two American physicians—Martin Furmanski, a pathologist and physician who wrote an essay in the book, and Michael Franzblau, a retired professor of dermatology at the University of California—believe that the culprit is Burkholderia mallei, or glanders. A horrendous skin disease that usually strikes horses, donkeys, and mules, glanders in humans is “exquisitely painful,” Furmanski says. Left untreated, it causes deep wounds that will not heal unless treated with antibiotics. “Pustules come up from below, point, break, and ooze a pussy fluid,” Furmanski explains. “Untreated, they can stay for months or even years. Only rarely do they heal. And when they occasionally do, you get a terrible scar.” Cutaneous anthrax, by contrast, starts as a lesion on the skin that blackens and swells. “You look like the Michelin man,” he says—but when it heals, it doesn’t leave a scar.

Furmanski became convinced that glanders, not anthrax, was the cause of “rotten leg disease” after he and Franzblau toured Quzhou with Wang Xuan in 2002. While taking a sample from a wound 60 years after the initial exposure probably would not reveal the identity of the original infectious agent, it might shed light on the nature of the infection or how best to treat it, he notes. But Furmanski says that he didn’t try to culture a sample and take it back to America because he hadn’t requested China’s permission. Moreover, the shipment of glanders is restricted in America, given its potential use as a biological weapon, he adds. Indeed, glanders remains a research subject at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases, the military’s premier biodefense lab, at Fort Detrick, Maryland. “Legally, I couldn’t bring it back into the United States,” Furmanski says.

Working closely with Wang, Franzblau has tried for years to introduce a resolution at World Medical Association meetings calling upon doctors to ask Japan to “officially repudiate Unit 731” and to explain “why physicians employed in Unit 731 have never been prosecuted for murder and crimes against humanity.” Each year, his resolution has gone nowhere. “There has never even been a debate,” he complains. The Japanese Medical Association has also remained silent, perhaps because one former president of the JMA was a Unit 731 staff member, as were former officials in many prestigious Japanese organizations.

Wang has raised tens of thousands of dollars to provide survivors the medical care they so desperately need. The Chinese government has done little to care for them, she says. Nor has any money come from Japanese organizations or individuals, unsurprisingly. And she has another fear: “I am worried that when these people die, the memory of what Japan did in China will die with them.”

According to Jan van Aken, a German writer, activist, and now Bundestag member who accompanied Wang on a tour of the region in 2006, “almost the entire microbiology elite of wartime Japan may have been involved in one way or the other in the heinous crimes of Unit 731.” In postwar Germany, by contrast, doctors who participated in similar experiments were exposed and convicted of crimes against humanity. “The time has come for Japan to appoint an independent, international commission, to investigate and publicly document, without restraints, the involvement of former members of their profession,” says van Aken. “This was the most intensive use of biological weapons in modern history. Yet Japan remains silent. And so do most of us.”

Judith Miller is a contributing editor of City Journal, an adjunct fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and a FOX News contributor.
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« Reply #16 on: May 29, 2010, 03:41:25 PM »

A very good article. Most Americans today are totally unaware of the atrocities inflicted on the Chinese people by the Japanese in WWII.
« Reply #17 on: July 11, 2010, 01:46:18 AM »

Crimes of the NY Times

By Vladimir Steblina
The reference librarian's answer was brief and to the point "There is no record of it. It never happened. Your father lied."

My father had the misfortune to be born in June 1917 in the southern Ukraine. He spent the first thirty years of his life under Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler and survived them all. He never lived in a free country until we immigrated to America is 1956.

As I was growing up, my father told me stories of his life. They were not pleasant. Stories of the Red Army sweeping across the farm in 1926 and taking all the horses. The Communists returning a year later and confiscating the farm, shooting my grandmother, and making my father an orphan at the age of 10.

He told stories of surviving in the Black Sea marshes by fishing for pike and trapping ducks and other wildlife. The German army marched into the Ukraine in 1941. Here the stories included surviving summary execution by the Germans not once, but twice.

He went to Germany as a forced laborer and spent the war years there. The only funny story I can remember him telling is when the United States Air Force bombed the local brewery in Austria and the streets ran with beer for the drinking. Even that story had the backdrop of war.

But the story he always kept coming back to was the famine in the early 1930s. He had already been an orphan for five years when the Soviet government removed all food and seed stocks from the Ukrainian people, sealed their borders, and waited for them to die. And die they did, by the millions.

It was this story that prompted my visit to the library. I looked in the subject card catalog and could not find any books under the Ukrainian famine. So I went to ask the reference librarian and there got her "definitive" answer.

Like any son, I had issues with my father. But I never knew him to lie or overstate facts. At that time, I was the same age he was when the famine started. So I just chalked it up to a local famine that somehow got blown out of proportion in the telling.

Then, in the late 1980s, I received a phone call from my father. In an excited voice, he said "The truth is finally out. The world now knows the truth." I immediately knew what he was talking about. He was tired of people doubting his story, same as the rest of the Ukrainians who survived the famine only to have their stories denied. The Harvest of Despair documentary was shown on the local PBS station.

Further investigation brought to light the fact that New York Times reporter Walter Duranty knew of Stalin's murder of ten million people and refused to report it. To add insult to injury, Walter Duranty won a Pulitzer Prize in the early 1930s for his reporting from the Soviet Union.

But it gets worse. A British reporter, Gareth Jones, discovered the truth and started writing stories about the famine. The New York Times published Walter Duranty's rebuttals, admitting that times were tough in the Soviet Union, but there was no Holodomor, or "murder by famine" killing millions of Ukrainians, even though the Ukrainians themselves knew the truth. America's "newspaper of record" with its worldwide reputation convinced the world that they, not Gareth Jones, had the story correct. And so people continued to die.

Nearly eighty years later, the New York Times has still refused to apologize to the Ukrainian people for its complicity in the murder of ten million people. They still hang Walter Duranty's Pulitzer Prize in their building.

The reference librarian was wrong. There is a record of it. It did happen. The New York Times lied, and ten million people died. My father told the truth.

For that I will never forgive the New York Times.

Vladimir Steblina, Wenatchee, Washington, is retired from the U.S. Forest Service. He has a blog on public lands at

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« Reply #18 on: July 28, 2010, 07:13:09 PM »

Robert Fulford: North Korea, an antique nightmare

Jacky Chen/Reuters
A North Korean soldier on guard near the Yalu River. The North Korean military is one of the functioning parts of the communist state.
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Robert Fulford  July 24, 2010 – 11:28 am

The communist government of North Korea, currently bouncing through the headlines once more, still the despair of the American State Department, was supposed to have gone out of business at least a generation ago.

It’s now 20 years since The Wall Street Journal ran an article about North Korea’s “coming collapse,” by Nicholas Eberstadt, a distinguished political economist. Undeterred by the failure of his prophecy, Eberstadt returned in 1999 with a book, The End of North Korea. Few argued with him. North Korea’s two patrons, Russia and China, had abandoned communism and cut off their aid programs. Obviously, the game was up.

Nevertheless, North Korea endures. In Hanoi this week, Hillary Clinton argued at the ASEAN regional meeting that the (presumptively North Korean) attack in March on the Cheonan, a South Korean warship, was part of Pyongyang’s campaign of dangerous behaviour. Peace cannot come to the Korean peninsula, she said, until North Korea changes its ways. But change is not part of North Korean politics. Whatever it says today sounds much like something it said in 1990 or 2000. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is a relic of the 20th century, an antique among nations. And yet, in its own monstrous way, it can claim to be a success.

While it can’t feed or house North Koreans, it’s a world-beater in longevity, a record-setter among totalitarian states. Stalin led a government for 29 years, Mao 27 years, Hitler 12 years. The dictatorship of Kim Il-sung and his son, Kim Jongil, one continuous government, has now reached the outlandish age of 65. Having established inheritance as its method of choosing a leader, it may replace Kim Jong-il (who is said to be ill) with his third son, Kim Jong-Un. One family has found a way to make its own special variety of radical evil permanent. Barack Obama is the 11th U.S. president to deal with it.

This phenomenon among nations, living by secrecy and punishing anyone who even speaks to a foreigner, remains largely unknown to the world. Barbara Demick, while spending five years in Seoul as a correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, discovered during six trips to the north that the government thugs escorting her wouldn’t let her exchange even one word with a private citizen. So, back in South Korea, she began to study refugees from the north.

The result, Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, recently won the Johnson Prize for the best non-fiction book published in Britain. It turns out to be a marvellous journalistic performance, the first account I’ve read that delivers an intimate sense of North Korean life. Demick braids the stories of six Koreans and their families into the history of a state dedicated to isolating and oppressing its citizens.

She leads us carefully and thoughtfully through desperate lives. A kindergarten teacher reports that the hardest part of her job was watching her pupils die of starvation. A pediatrician says much the same about her patients.

Yet most of these survivors acknowledge that for a long time they believed what the regime told them. They were persuaded, for instance, that South Korea was suffering terrible deprivation — one reason children sang a song beginning, “We have nothing to envy in the world.”

Refugees described Public Standards Police who would often visit private homes to be sure that the mandatory glass-framed portraits of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il were kept clean. Each household was provided with a white cloth, to be used exclusively for cleaning the portraits. Demick quotes a Grade One arithmetic book: “Eight boys and nine girls are singing anthems in praise of Kim Il-sung. How many children are singing in total?”

Kim Il-sung, whose uncle was a Christian minister in pre-communist days, banned Bibles, closed churches and turned himself into a divinity. Government newspapers described miracles. A turbulent sea suddenly grew calm when sailors sang hymns to him. When he attended a meeting in the demilitarized zone, a mysterious fog descended, saving him from potential assassination by South Korean snipers. At the birth of his son, Kim Jong-il, a radiant star illuminated the sky.

Efficient, relentless brainwashing worked. Demick’s witnesses say many North Koreans embraced the idea of Kim Il-sung’s godliness. In 1994, when he died at the age of 82, they were surprised and dismayed. A young man Demick interviewed read 1984 after he escaped to the south. He was startled to learn that George Orwell, back in the 1940s, had perfectly understood the thinking of modern North Koreans.

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« Reply #19 on: September 17, 2010, 10:50:16 AM »

Mao's Great Leap Forward 'killed 45 million in four years'
By Arifa Akbar, Arts Correspondent
Friday, 17 September 2010

Mao Zedong, founder of the People's Republic of China, qualifies as the greatest mass murderer in world history, an expert who had unprecedented access to official Communist Party archives said yesterday.

Speaking at The Independent Woodstock Literary Festival, Frank Dikötter, a Hong Kong-based historian, said he found that during the time that Mao was enforcing the Great Leap Forward in 1958, in an effort to catch up with the economy of the Western world, he was responsible for overseeing "one of the worst catastrophes the world has ever known".

Mr Dikötter, who has been studying Chinese rural history from 1958 to 1962, when the nation was facing a famine, compared the systematic torture, brutality, starvation and killing of Chinese peasants to the Second World War in its magnitude. At least 45 million people were worked, starved or beaten to death in China over these four years; the worldwide death toll of the Second World War was 55 million.

Mr Dikötter is the only author to have delved into the Chinese archives since they were reopened four years ago. He argued that this devastating period of history – which has until now remained hidden – has international resonance. "It ranks alongside the gulags and the Holocaust as one of the three greatest events of the 20th century.... It was like [the Cambodian communist dictator] Pol Pot's genocide multiplied 20 times over," he said.

Between 1958 and 1962, a war raged between the peasants and the state; it was a period when a third of all homes in China were destroyed to produce fertiliser and when the nation descended into famine and starvation, Mr Dikötter said.

His book, Mao's Great Famine; The Story of China's Most Devastating Catastrophe, reveals that while this is a part of history that has been "quite forgotten" in the official memory of the People's Republic of China, there was a "staggering degree of violence" that was, remarkably, carefully catalogued in Public Security Bureau reports, which featured among the provincial archives he studied. In them, he found that the members of the rural farming communities were seen by the Party merely as "digits", or a faceless workforce. For those who committed any acts of disobedience, however minor, the punishments were huge.

State retribution for tiny thefts, such as stealing a potato, even by a child, would include being tied up and thrown into a pond; parents were forced to bury their children alive or were doused in excrement and urine, others were set alight, or had a nose or ear cut off. One record shows how a man was branded with hot metal. People were forced to work naked in the middle of winter; 80 per cent of all the villagers in one region of a quarter of a million Chinese were banned from the official canteen because they were too old or ill to be effective workers, so were deliberately starved to death.

Mr Dikötter said that he was once again examining the Party's archives for his next book, The Tragedy of Liberation, which will deal with the bloody advent of Communism in China from 1944 to 1957.

He said the archives were already illuminating the extent of the atrocities of the period; one piece of evidence revealed that 13,000 opponents of the new regime were killed in one region alone, in just three weeks. "We know the outline of what went on but I will be looking into precisely what happened in this period, how it happened, and the human experiences behind the history," he said.

Mr Dikötter, who teaches at the University of Hong Kong, said while it was difficult for any historian in China to write books that are critical of Mao, he felt he could not collude with the "conspiracy of silence" in what the Chinese rural community had suffered in recent history.
« Reply #20 on: October 04, 2010, 11:12:48 AM »

OCTOBER 4, 2010 4:00 A.M.
Twilight in the Evil Kingdom of the Hermit Midgets
The nightmare of North Korea is finally ending.

With Kim Jong Il’s promotion of two family members to senior military posts in time for the historic Workers’-party conference in Pyongyang last week, the Communist world’s latest succession crisis officially got under way. Actually, “promotion” may not be the right word, given that neither the Dear Leader’s 27-year-old son, Kim Jong Eun, nor his 64-year-old sister, Kim Kyong Hui, had held military positions of any significance before they were elevated to the rank of four-star generals.

For the surreal North Korean regime, these days must seem like the Twilight of the Gods. The state’s unification strategy, its raison d’être since the “military first” doctrine emerged in the early 1960s, has visibly and utterly failed. The people have been starving for decades. The government is almost friendless. The state religion — a grotesque amalgam of Stalinism, Confucian collectivism, and god-worship of the Kim dynasty — is melting into a tide from all sides. They have nuclear weapons, which must feel a bit like wielding a Götterhammer, but it has gotten them precious little of what they hoped for. Perhaps most important, Red China’s emergence as a major capitalist power presages nothing good for this aging and decrepit relic of Stalinism. In an inversion of the Wagnerian tragedy, the dwarf has been undone by the mighty.

The tide around the “fortress of socialism” is rising particularly on the Yalu River. North Korea’s remote border with China runs most of the course of the Yalu. On the other side of the Yalu, China’s economic miracle is approaching relentlessly. The thriving metropolis of Shenyang, one of China’s ten largest cities, and Daidan, one of its principal ports, are but a few hours’ drive by freeway from the border town of Dandong.

The once-forbidding border has opened up considerably, partly because of official policy and partly because of the extent to which the North Korean black market — which survives on official corruption — has eroded the internal authority of the regime. Both governments still work hard to keep anybody from getting out of North Korea, but hundreds of thousands of North Korean refugees have nonetheless escaped to China and South Korea, vastly improving our understanding of daily life in the Hermit Kingdom.

As chronicled by Korea experts such as Prof. Andrei Lankov of Kookmin University, in Seoul, the refugees paint a picture of a decaying dystopia. In today’s North Korea, illicit trade is the principal means of subsistence — only a small fraction of the people’s nutritional needs comes from official rations, by some estimates as little as 6 percent of their caloric intake. Moreover, the illicit trade has flourished inside the government’s own infrastructure: Bribery allows traders to “rent” space on the government’s own trains and trucks, and even to pay “duties” at border checkpoints.

According to one refugee, only schoolchildren undergoing indoctrination at official party camps any longer believe official propaganda about the shining success of North Korea and the pervasiveness of squalid conditions elsewhere. Chiefly because of the flood of black-market videocassette recorders and cheap South Korean videos in the last ten years, North Koreans now know what they could not have known before — namely, that it is they who live in squalor while their fellow Koreans to the south enjoy breathtaking material comfort.

After the ruinous famines that followed the end of Soviet subsidies (a million North Koreans or more may have died in the mid-1990s), the regime is said to have toyed with market reforms. But, writing in the journal Asia Policy, Lankov argues persuasively that the regime was merely trying to adjust to the reality of a new informal market that had arisen in the failure of the state’s own food-distribution system. In the last five years, as increased trade and aid have relieved some of the pressure on Pyongyang, North Korea has once again embraced economic and political repression — and confrontation with its adversaries abroad.

As George Kennan wrote of the Soviet Union in his Long Telegram at the dawn of the Cold War, understanding the sources of North Korean conduct involves questions so “intricate, so delicate, so strange to our form of thought,” that any assessment is hazardous. But one thing seems increasingly clear: If you really want to understand North Korea’s behavior, shift your focus from Pyongyang to Beijing.

When the George W. Bush administration first came into office, it was determined to solve the problem of North Korea and its nuclear-weapons program once and for all, rather than punt it into the next administration. It concluded that one positive step would be to involve China in the situation by convincing it that the North Korea nuclear crisis was China’s problem too. But what Americans have always had trouble understanding is that China sees North Korea as principally its problem, more than anybody else’s. (See John Lewis Gaddis’s We Now Know.) And what the Bush administration failed to appreciate was that China’s changing perception of North Korea would now be the central plot-driver in this final act of the North Korean tragedy.

Several historical processes running in parallel have crystallized the preeminence of China at the end of the road for North Korea. The first was that that one by one, North Korea’s traditional enemies have faded as key factors in its strategic calculus. Second was the cutting off of North Korea from the world financial system, especially with respect to illicit activities, chiefly as a result of U.S. Treasury actions. These two forces paved the way for the third, namely the rise of China as the one foreign power that North Korea really cares about.

The eclipsing of Japan, the U.S., and South Korea as North Korea’s principal strategic concerns would have been difficult to predict a decade ago. As a result of an impasse over kidnapped Japanese citizens, Japan has for the better part of a decade refused to give any money at all to North Korea, even as part of the Six-Party Talks, even in the form of humanitarian assistance — a far cry from the 1990s, when it was offering North Korea $10 billion in yearly assistance to give up its nuclear program. The U.S. has also been far more tight-fisted than it was in the 1990s under the Clinton administration. And after a conservative, pro-American government came to power in Seoul early 2008, South Korea began reducing its trade and economic assistance to the North. Now, after the North sank the South Korean navy vessel Cheonan last March, killing all 46 aboard, the South has reduced its trade and aid to a tiny fraction of what it was just three years ago.

The current irrelevance of the U.S. and its allies in the strategic calculus of North Korea was certainly not the intended goal of the Six-Party Talks, but it was almost their only result. The reason is that from the start, the Six-Party framework could only work if it became the gatekeeper for international economic assistance moving to North Korea. If we could create a united front among the surrounding great powers, we might be able to make North Korea an offer it could not afford to refuse.

But as it happened, neither China nor South Korea was willing to hold bilateral trade or economic assistance hostage to the talks. From 2000 to 2008, China’s trade with North Korea increased from about $400 million to more than $1.7 billion, and South Korea’s trade with the North increased by nearly an equal amount. Indeed, not even hard-line Bush-administration officials were willing to hold humanitarian assistance hostage to the nuclear issue. In the end, the talks amounted to a nearly irrelevant exchange of minimal steps for minimal assistance. They were doomed from the start.

Of more lasting but less obvious significance were the actions taken by the U.S. Treasury against North Korea starting in 2005. The largely unsung success of those actions has important implications for our Iran policy, as Juan Zarate explains in a recent issue of NR. Zarate, who eventually became deputy national security adviser under President Bush, was then a senior Treasury official, part of an interagency working group that sought ways to leverage the post-9/11 financial regulations against rogue regimes such as North Korea.

In October 2005, after careful preparation, and with little warning, the U.S. Treasury issued a preliminary ruling designating a small bank in Macau — Banco Delta Asia — an institution of “primary money laundering concern” and enjoining American banks from doing any business with any bank that did business with it. As banks everywhere scrambled to implement the know-your-customer due-diligence rules adopted by the Treasury in the wake of 9/11, BDA was cut off from the international financial system. The morning after the ruling, there was a run on the bank, and it was seized by local authorities to avoid a collapse.

BDA was one of a few banks — another being the Bank of China — that North Korea depended on to launder cash obtained from its illicit trade in drugs, weapons, counterfeit cigarettes, and counterfeit dollars. North Korea used an array of front companies to conduct this vital trade, but the due-diligence rules that banks were now forced to adopt as a result of Treasury regulations — even at the Bank of China — made it hard for North Korea to hide its ownership of those front companies. People stopped doing business with them. The regime was forced deeper into dependence on China and South Korea.

With the recent loss of South Korean support, North Korea now depends utterly on China, as it has never depended on any single power since the fall of the Soviet Union — and of course, for Beijing, it has nothing like the strategic value that it had for Moscow at the height of the Cold War. In fact, it is hard to see how North Korea has any strategic value for China at all. It is purely a problem.

Dependence on modern China is not the most comfortable place for a moribund Stalinist dictatorship to be. Despite an alliance going back to the Korean War, China’s current course of economic development has put it on a collision course with Pyongyang. China reacted sharply to planned U.S.–South Korean exercises in the East China Sea not because it wants to defend North Korea but because China increasingly views its near abroad as its natural sphere of influence. Like most rising Great Powers before it, China has come to view itself as the preeminent power in its own region. That should not distract Korea-watchers from the obvious fact that the relationship of North Korea and China has been transformed — along with all of China’s other relationships abroad.

China remains a Communist regime and continues to rely on political repression and economic central planning to maintain its political monopoly. And as the latest Pentagon report on China’s military power makes clear, a great deal of China’s military development has hegemonic and even hostile intent. Its grand strategy aims to defeat key capabilities of America’s defense architecture on the Pacific Rim, to intimidate those countries that contest its claims to large tracts of the South China Sea (as we saw recently in its dispute with Japan), and eventually to bring Taiwan to its knees.

But it has become a more subtle and less ideological Communist regime, to make no mention of a spectacular economic success. Thomas Friedman’s embarrassing paeans to the Communist Chinese are decidedly illiterate next to Edmund Wilson’s similarly admiring tracts on Soviet Communism written during the 1930s, but Friedman is not as ill-informed as Wilson was. He has at least put his finger on the importance that globalization has to the political economy of China. Globalization is of course totally poisonous to Pyongyang’s “fortress of socialism” philosophy, and to have its benefactor embrace it so wholeheartedly can only spell doom.

It is true that China has dramatically increased its trade with North Korea; and by some estimates, North Korea receives some 40 percent of China’s total foreign assistance. It is true that maintaining stability in North Korea is a far higher priority for China than resolving the nuclear issue. It is also true that China has frustrated the U.S. goal of ending North Korea’s nuclear program — although, to be fair, only marginally more than our own policies have done that.

Still, consider the fact that China has consistently voted against North Korea in the Security Council since 2006. It could have abstained, but it did not, in any instance. Instead it has assumed an obviously hostile, and even humiliating, diplomatic stance. China tried to water each of those sanctions down, true enough, but they were still hostile votes, and in their cumulative effect, they have proven more than a little painful. For example, as a result of sanctions that Pyongyang can rightfully attribute to Beijing, even Burma has refused docking rights to North Korean vessels.

The truth is that China’s votes against North Korea in the council have been astounding public repudiations, especially given the two countries’ history as brothers-in-arms in the Korean War and steadfast allies for most of the 60 years since. And consider, too, that no regime has ever survived the accumulation of Security Council resolutions that have now passed against North Korea — and Iran.

Shen Dingli, vice dean of the Institute of International Affairs at Shanghai’s Fudan University, recently explained China’s refusal to condemn North Korea for the sinking of the Cheonan with a simple observation: “North Korea is dying.” The end of North Korea has been predicted for years, but now the signs are everywhere. It remains only to pray that this wicked regime passes beyond the twilight without ever using the cataclysmic weapon it now wields.

– Mario Loyola, a former foreign-policy counsel to the U.S. Senate Republican Policy Committee, is director for Tenth Amendment studies at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.
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« Reply #21 on: October 04, 2010, 11:27:30 AM »

China, like S. Korea worries about the flood of refugees from the collapse of the NorKs.
« Reply #22 on: October 22, 2010, 10:55:09 PM »

Chinese History: The Great Leap Backward
Frank Dikötter, 20 October 2010
History Today  CommunismFood20th CenturyChinaVolume: 60 Issue: 11

Frank Dikötter looks at how historians’ understanding of China has changed in recent years with the gradual opening of party archives that reveal the full horror of the Maoist era.

In the People’s Republic of China archives do not belong to the people, they belong to the party. They are often housed in a special building on the local party committee premises, which are generally set among lush and lovingly manicured grounds closely guarded by military personnel. Access would have been unthinkable until a decade or so ago, but over the past few years a quiet revolution has been taking place as increasing quantities of documents older than 30 years have become available for consultation by professional historians armed with a letter of recommendation. The extent and quality of the material varies from place to place, but there is enough to transform our understanding of the Maoist era.

Take, for instance, the Great Leap Forward from 1958 to 1962, when Mao thought that he could catapult his country past its competitors by herding villagers across the country into giant people’s communes. In pursuit of a utopian paradise everything was collectivised. People had their work, homes, land, belongings and livelihoods taken from them. In collective canteens, food, distributed by the spoonful according to merit, became a weapon used to force people to follow the party’s every dictate. As most other incentives to work were stripped away, coercion and violence were used instead to compel famished farmers to perform labour on poorly planned dams or irrigation projects, while the fields were being neglected.

A catastrophe of gargantuan proportions ensued. Extrapolating from published population statistics, historians have speculated that tens of millions of people died of starvation. But the true dimensions of what happened are only now coming to light thanks to the meticulous reports the party itself compiled during the famine.

My recent research relies on hundreds of hitherto unseen party archives, including secret reports from the Public Security Bureau, detailed minutes of top party meetings, unexpurgated versions of important leadership speeches, surveys of working conditions in the countryside, investigations into cases of mass murder, confessions of leaders responsible for the deaths of millions of people, inquiries compiled by special teams sent in to discover the extent of the catastrophe in the last stages of the Great Leap Forward, general reports on peasant resistance during the collectivisation campaign, secret police opinion surveys, letters of complaint written by ordinary people and much more.

What comes out of this massive and detailed dossier is a tale of horror in which Chairman Mao emerges as one of the greatest mass murderers in human history, responsible for the premature deaths of at least 45 million people between 1958 and 1962. It is not merely the extent of the catastrophe that dwarfs earlier estimates, but also the manner in which many people died: between two and three million victims were tortured to death or summarily killed, often for the slightest infraction. When a boy stole a handful of grain in a Hunan village, local boss Xiong Dechang forced his father to bury him alive. The father died of grief a few days later. The case of Wang Ziyou was reported to the central leadership: one of his ears was chopped off, his legs were tied with iron wire, a ten-kilo stone was dropped on his back and then he was branded with a sizzling tool – as punishment for digging up a potato. The discriminate killing of slackers, weaklings, or otherwise unproductive elements increased the overall food supply for those who contributed to the regime through their labour. As report after report shows, food was used as a weapon.

Throughout the country those who were too ill to work were routinely cut off from the food supply. The sick, the vulnerable and the elderly were banned from the canteen, as cadres found inspiration in Lenin’s dictum: ‘He who does not work shall not eat.’

As the minutes of leadership meetings show, Mao was aware of the extent of the famine. At a secret gathering that took place in Shanghai on March 25th, 1959, Mao specifically ordered the party to procure up to one third of all the grain, much more than had ever been previously taken. At the meeting he announced that: ‘When there is not enough to eat, people starve to death. It is better to let half of the people die so that the other half can eat their fill.’

Other key events of the Maoist era are also being revisited thanks to party archives, more often than not by Chinese historians themselves. Yang Kuisong, a Shanghai historian, has cast new light on the terror that followed ‘liberation’ in 1949, showing how power seized with violence had to be maintained with violence. Up to a million were described as enemies of the people and fell victim to a killing frenzy in which everybody was encouraged to take part. In remote villages bystanders were sometimes allowed to cut the flesh from the dead and take it back home. The party itself decreed quotas for the killings, but these were often exceeded when mass murder was driven by personal vendettas and lineage feuds.

Fresh evidence is also being unearthed on the land reform that transformed the countryside in the early 1950s. In many villages there were no ‘landlords’ set against ‘poor peasants’ but rather closely knit communities that jealously protected their land from the prying eyes of outsiders: the state in particular. By implicating everybody in ‘accusation meetings’, during which village leaders were humiliated, tortured and executed while their land and other assets were redistributed to party activists recruited from local thugs and paupers, the Communists turned the power structure upside down. Liu Shaoqi, the party’s second-in-command, had a hard time reining in the violence, as a missive from the Hebei archives shows: ‘When it comes to the ways in which people are killed, some are buried alive, some are executed, some are cut to pieces, and among those who are strangled or mangled to death, some of the bodies are hung from trees or doors.’

There is hardly a topic that is not being explored thanks to fresh archival evidence, although the Cultural Revolution, for the greatest part, remains off limits. Even as vast masses of original party documents are gradually being declassified, much of the crucial evidence remains safely locked away, including most of the Central Party Archives in Beijing. A tantalising glimpse of the wealth of material that might one day become available is offered in Gao Wenqian’s extraordinary biography of Zhou Enlai. Gao was a party historian who worked with a team in the Central Archives in Beijing on an official biography of Zhou Enlai for many years. He smuggled his notes out of the archives before absconding to the United States in the aftermath of the Tiananmen massacre. In the groundbreaking biography Gao subsequently published, Zhou is substantially different from the iconic figure most of us are used to: instead of a suave, well-mannered diplomat, the archives show him to be often devious and always willing to turn against his own friends in order to further his career. Gao describes him as Mao’s ‘faithful dog’. And Zhou was not only willing to endure humiliation and abasement at the hands of his master as a way of surviving politically in the many purges initiated by Mao: he acquiesced, as Gao puts it, in carrying Mao’s ‘execution knife’.

Why are these sensitive archives being declassified? There was a general feeling of goodwill and openness before the Olympics took place in Beijing, but the political atmosphere has worsened noticeably since. Let us hope that in the long term historians will be able  to access all the key documents of one of China’s most violent periods.

Frank Dikötter is Professor of Humanities at the University of Hong Kong. His latest book is Mao’s Great Famine: The History of China’s Most Devastating Catastrophe (Bloomsbury, 2010).ötter/chinese-history-great-leap-backward
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« Reply #23 on: April 23, 2011, 12:13:53 PM »

The most remarkable thing about "The Way Back," the 2010 film by Peter Weir, was neither its protagonists (escapees from the Soviet gulag system who trekked thousands of miles to their freedom) nor the curious tale of the almost certainly fictional 1956 "memoir" that inspired it (Slawomir Rawicz's "The Long Walk"). No, what distinguished "The Way Back" was its depiction of life in Stalin's camps. There have been a handful of films on this topic, but, as observed Anne Applebaum, author of a fine 2004 history of the gulag, this was the first time it had been given the full Hollywood treatment. Hitler's concentration camps are a Tinseltown staple, but Stalin's merit barely a mention.

Publishers have been more even-handed. There are many books on Soviet terror, and some have won huge readerships. Yet, as Hollywood's cynics understand, the swastika will almost always outsell the red star. That's due partly to the perverse aesthetics of the Third Reich but also to a disconcerting ambivalence—even now—about what was going on a little further to the east. The slaughter of millions by Moscow's communist regime remains shrouded in benevolent shadow. The Soviet experiment is given a benefit of a doubt that owes nothing to history and far too much to a lingering sympathy for a supposedly noble dream supposedly gone astray.

A flurry of recent books on Soviet oppression—surely encouraged by the interest generated by Ms. Applebaum's "Gulag"—is thus to be welcomed. One of the best is edited by Ms. Applebaum herself. "Gulag Voices" (Yale, 195 pages, $25) is a deftly chosen anthology of writings by victims of Soviet rule. Some are published for the first time in English, most are by writers little known in the West and each is given a succinct, informative introduction. Above all, they help illustrate the duration, variety and range of Soviet despotism.

The Third Reich lasted for scarcely more than a decade. Most of those who died at its hands were slaughtered within the space of five years or so. The Soviet killing spree dragged on, however, from the revolutionary frenzy of 1917, through the terrible bloodbaths of the Stalin era, to the last violent spasms in 1991. The ultimate death toll may have been higher than that orchestrated by Hitler, but absolute annihilations like those envisaged by the Nazis were never on the agenda. Instead the nature of Soviet repression shifted back and forth over the years: sometimes more lethal, sometimes less, sometimes carefully targeted, sometimes arbitrary. The gulag itself was, as Ms. Applebaum notes, "an extraordinarily varied place." As the title of Solzhenitsyn's "The First Circle" reminds us, Stalin's hell, like Dante's, was layered. And how it endured: The most recent account in "Gulag Voices" is an excerpt from Anatoly Marchenko's "My Testimony," a memoir from 1969 that highlighted the way that Stalinist cruelty had successfully survived the dead, officially disgraced, dictator.

"Gulag Voices" begins in 1928. Dmitry Likhachev, an old-style St. Petersburg intellectual, was arrested when his literary discussion group was deemed to be a hotbed of counterrevolutionary plotting. He served four years in the Solovetsky Islands, the beautiful northern archipelago that from 1923 hosted the first organized camps, the tumor that metastasized into the hideous "archipelago" of Solzhenitsyn's great metaphor.

Mr. Likhachev's contribution is followed by a sampling of what could be found within that wider archipelago. Misery, gang rape and murder co-exist with Potemkin parodies of "normal life"—an excerpt from Gustav Herling's "A World Apart" (1951) describes the arrangements for conjugal visits. Occasionally, the prisoners might even carry on approximations of a career within the camp as an engineer, doctor or, as Tamara Petkevich recounts in "Memoir of a Gulag Actress" (Northern Illinois, 481 pages, $35), a performer for audiences of fellow convicts.

Such recollections come, as Ms. Applebaum acknowledges, with their own bias. With the exception of Mr. Marchenko, who died in the course of a later sentence, the authors all survived. Millions were not so fortunate. And some of those lives had hardly begun. In the devastating "Children of the Gulag" (Yale, 450 pages, $35), Cathy A. Frierson and Semyon S. Vilensky chronicle the awful fate of those literally countless children whose parents had fallen foul of the rage of the Soviet state. Here, a gulag convict nurse recalls handing over a batch of prisoners' children for transfer to a "special home": "The worst happened: We'd given, according to the receipt, eleven healthy beautiful children, and not one of them was ever returned. Not a single one!" This was a story repeated again and again and again. And as for those who did survive, many were forced to accept a suspect, fragile existence in which, for decades, the knock on the door was never so far away.

That tension would have been familiar to many prisoners eventually freed from the gulag. "Gulag Voices" includes one account by the pseudonymous K. Petrus, describing his 1939 release into what Ms. Applebaum describes as "the strange ambiguity" of a life that was closer to limbo. The big cities were denied to most former inmates. Their families were broken. Many chose to remain near the camps that had once held them.

Tales of the Gulag
The Gulag Archipelago
By Alexander Solzhenitsyn

That "The Gulag Archipelago" had to be written says the worst about humanity. That it was written says the best. Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008) created an unanswerable indictment of the totalitarian regime under which he was still living and, no less critically, established that it had been poison from the start. As carefully researched as the difficult circumstances of its production would allow, "The Gulag Archipelago" is no dry roster of the dead but a work of passion and fury, underpinned by bleak humor and the hope (vain, it seems) that someday justice would be done.

Kolyma Tales
By Varlam Shalamov

Far less well-known than they should be, these short stories by Varlam Shalamov (1907-82) are terse, lightly fictionalized, partly autobiographical glimpses into the gulag's abyss. "Kolyma Tales" derives its name from the region in Russia's far northeast that played host to a vast forced labor complex, in which hundreds of thousands (at least) perished. Written in a style of ironic, hard-edged detachment and so spare and so crystalline that they sometimes tip over into poetry, the tales rest at the summit of Russian literary achievement.

Journey into the Whirlwind
By Eugenia Ginzburg

Rightly or wrongly, the Great Terror of 1937, an immense wave of violence that took down many who had either supported or benefited from the rise of the Soviet state, has come to be seen as the epitome of Stalinist despotism. Eugenia Ginzburg (1904-77) was among those expelled from a heaven under construction to a fully finished hell. "Journey Into the Whirlwind" remains a profoundly humane, wonderfully written first-hand account of arrest, imprisonment and exile into the gulag.

My Testimony
By Anatoly Marchenko

Eugenia Ginzburg was a member of the Soviet elite; Anatoly Marchenko (1938-86) was the opposite, the son of illiterate railway workers. "My Testimony," his description of life in the 1960s gulag, is matter-of-fact, something that only makes its horrors seem worse. Marchenko's gulag experience transformed him from everyman into dissident. The last of his many re-arrests was in 1980. Still imprisoned, he died from the effects of a hunger strike in 1986. Perestroika had just begun: too late, far too late.

Faithful Ruslan

By Georgi Vladimov

Moments of extraordinary beauty mark this haunting fable by Georgi Vladimov (1931-2003), told through the eyes of Ruslan, the most loyal of guard dogs. Abandoned by Master after their camp is closed down following Stalin's death, Ruslan patiently patrols the neighboring town waiting for the old order to return. It does, but only as a hallucination as Ruslan drifts into death after one final bloodletting. When Vladimov offered this novella for publication, though, it was rejected. Khrushchev had fallen and new masters were in charge. For real.

—Andrew Stuttaford

The fate of those who emerged is also a central concern of Stephen F. Cohen's "The Victims Return: Survivors of the Gulag After Stalin" (Publishing Works, 224 pages, $22.95), a perceptive study of Khrushchev-era attempts to secure justice for Stalin's victims, the backsliding that followed and, finally, in the Glasnost years, the mass, too often posthumous "rehabilitations" of former prisoners—rehabilitations unaccompanied, however, by any realistic prospect that their tormentors would be brought to justice. Mr. Cohen was a frequent visitor to Moscow in the 1970s and 1980s and came to know some of those who had survived. His account is powerful and, often, very moving, marred only by traces of a belief in the impossible dream of a kinder, gentler Soviet Union, the will-o'-the-wisp that beguiled and destroyed Mikhail Gorbachev.

A very different (and highly unusual) perspective can be found in "Gulag Boss" (Oxford, 229 pages, $29.95) by Fyodor Mochulsky, the reminiscences of an engineer recruited by the NKVD (the Stalin-era secret police) to supervise forced labor in a Siberian camp. It was written during and after the U.S.S.R.'s implosion and ends with Mochulsky appearing to reject the methods, although not necessarily the ideology, of the system he served for so long. But he does so in the strained, awkward prose of a man unwilling to face up to what he had done. Mr. Mochulsky talks of disease, lack of food and other hardships, but the scale of the death toll that he must have witnessed is, at best, only there by implication. His overall tone is one of pained technocratic disappointment that the camp was so poorly run: He was a Speer, so to speak, not a Himmler. Yet Albert Speer served 20 years in jail. Mr. Mochulsky went on to enjoy a successful diplomatic and intelligence career and, in retirement, the luxury of modest regret.

And in those twilight years, he is unlikely to have been troubled by fears of prosecution. There has been no Bolshevik Nuremberg. Total defeat left Nazi horror open for all to see, but many Soviet archives remain closed, their tales of atrocity unpublished. The new books on the gulag cannot begin to redress the crimes they describe, but they can at least help history locate the facts with which it can pass the judgment that the victims and their jailers deserve.

—Mr. Stuttaford, who writes frequently about culture and politics, works in the international financial markets.
« Reply #24 on: May 01, 2011, 05:09:05 PM »

Many links in the original piece well worth exploring.

Victims of Communism Day
Ilya Somin • May 1, 2011 10:30 am

Today is May Day. For the past several years, I have advocated that this date be transformed into Victims of Communism Day. My 2007, 2008, and 2010 posts on the subject explain the rationale for this idea. Here’s a summary from my very first post on the subject, which remains equally valid today:

May Day began as a holiday for socialists and labor union activists, not just communists. But over time, the date was taken over by the Soviet Union and other communist regimes and used as a propaganda tool to prop up their regimes. I suggest that we instead use it as a day to commemorate those regimes’ millions of victims. The authoritative Black Book of Communism estimates the total at 80 to 100 million dead, greater than that caused by all other twentieth century tyrannies combined. We appropriately have a Holocaust Memorial Day. It is equally appropriate to commemorate the victims of the twentieth century’s other great totalitarian tyranny. And May Day is the most fitting day to do so. I suggest that May Day be turned into Victims of Communism Day....

The main alternative to May 1 is November 7, the anniversary of the communist coup in Russia. However, choosing that date might be interpreted as focusing exclusively on the Soviet Union, while ignoring the equally horrendous communist mass murders in China, Camobodia, and elsewhere. So May 1 is the best choice.

In this post, I explained why the longstanding relative neglect of communist crimes is deplorable — not just from the standpoint of understanding the past, but also that of doing justice in the here and now and ensuring a better future. For a good summary of the extent of communist crimes, see this 2005 May Day post by political scientist Rudolph Rummel, a leading academic expert on mass murder.

Since my last May Day post, new evidence has emerged suggesting that the communist mass murders in China were on an even larger scale than previously thought, and greater than those in the Soviet Union. This strengthens the case for an international rather than Russia-centric date for Victims of Communism Day.

Much debate has focused on the question of whether communist mass murders qualify as genocide. In my view, some of them do qualify as such, but the entire distinction between genocide and mass murder has been vastly overblown. The mass murder of innocent people is equally evil regardless of whether it was committed out of racial, religious, ideological or other motives. I discussed this point in detail in this series of posts.

2011 is also the 50th anniversary of the building of the Berlin Wall, one of communism’s most notorious crimes, though ironically also one of its comparatively smaller ones. For my thoughts on the Wall, see here.
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« Reply #25 on: December 20, 2011, 07:24:47 AM »

Hat tip to GM:

Vaclav Havel Crushed Communism By Speaking The Truth

  Posted 12/19/2011 06:57 PM ET

Leadership: Europe's outpouring of grief over the death of Vaclav Havel, hero of Czechoslovakia's great Velvet Revolution, says much about its longing for more like him. His honesty and courage liberated Europe.
Some 75,000 Czechs bearing roses and candles lined up in Wenceslas Square beginning Sunday, as they once did in 1989, to pay tribute to one of the greatest freedom fighters of the 20th century. Havel died Sunday at age 75 after liberating his country, leading his nation as president from 1989-2003, and voicing his moral authority to scourge lingering tyrants in Cuba, Burma and China.
Havel, a playwright whose health had been weakened by years spent in communist dungeons, was an unlikely and yet perfect leader for leading Eastern Europe's liberation from communism. He unshackled Europe with the only weapon in his arsenal — words, which he animated and empowered by expressing them truthfully.
In the former Czechoslovakia, the nightmare of communism imposed after World War II was employed with a Nazi-like oppressive intensity, leaving a bleak society whose citizens got by on lies, collaboration, mediocrity and ratlike survival ethics.
"We live in a contaminated moral environment. We fell morally ill because we became used to saying something different from what we thought. We learned not to believe in anything, to ignore each other, to care only about ourselves. Concepts such as love, friendship, compassion, humility, or forgiveness lost their depth and dimensions. ... Only a few of us were able to cry out loud that the powers that be should not be all-powerful," Havel told his nation after being elected the first president of the restored democracy in December 1989.
Condemned from birth as a "bourgeois element," Havel was always an outsider who could never become a "new communist man" or a cog in the machine of "progress." Denied admission to university, denied jobs, denied permission to leave the country, spied on by secret police and refused liberty in prison beginning in 1979, he managed to free his country by standing up for freedom against all odds.

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It was an incredible dream then — because right up until the end, no one believed communism would ever fall. Havel's Velvet Revolution changed that, as first a few thousand, and then a few hundred thousand flooded the streets calling for the regime's end — and the move spread like wildfire through Europe and eventually hit the gates of Moscow.
Havel's peaceful revolution, unlike almost any other, left all oppressive regimes — to this very day — uncertain about their self-declared permanence.
All the same, the sorry imitations now seen in Egypt and Libya and other places leave people skeptical. That's because they aren't animated by the classical concepts of liberty and human rights that Havel's truth was.
First, his plays pointed out the rampant dishonesty, collaboration and conformity of society under communism and enraged the regime for that alone. Then in 1976, motivated by the regime's arrest of a psychedelic rock band called "Plastic People of the Universe," he initiated the first call for political freedom through his Charter 77, a manifesto for liberty on classical principles. He got 242 others to sign it — only a few years after Soviet tanks crushed Czechoslovakia's freedom fighters in a bloody 1968 invasion.
And yet, Havel himself said that standing up for freedom was the only choice.
"Humanity will pay the price for communism until such a time as we learn to stand up to it with all political responsibility and decisiveness," he said, encouraging a group of Cuban civil society organizers in 2006.
Havel not only articulated the corrosive effect of communism on the human soul as few others did, he also warned the West to defend its liberties and free markets.
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« Reply #26 on: December 20, 2011, 11:00:16 AM »

Great story.  A few great heroes emerged in the period of overcoming the horrible history of Soviet and eastern bloc oppression.

Not to be confused with the Czech President since Vaclav Havel: Václav Klaus, a more contemporary hero IMO.  These are our allies and happen to be the ones Pres. Obama spit on for a deal gone bad with Putin.  When this miserable period in our country's history passes, we need to go out again and find our real allies, if we have any left.  Those who witnessed communism firsthand appreciate freedom the most.
« Reply #27 on: December 20, 2011, 02:10:40 PM »

Lisa Ling did a Documentary on North Korea for National Geographic. It is worth checking out. She got a camera in and interviewed some people on the pretext of documenting an eye doctor volunteering time there.
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« Reply #28 on: December 20, 2011, 05:24:38 PM »

Is there a URL? 
« Reply #29 on: December 22, 2011, 09:04:09 AM »

Is there a URL?

The whole thing is on youtube. Pretty neat.

Fun fact I learned from it. Apparently the North Korean boarder guards face each other instead of the enemy to keep each other from defecting. Their commander faces away to make sure no one tries to run past them.
« Reply #30 on: January 07, 2012, 01:54:35 PM »

FDR and Executive Order 9066

Posted by Tim Lynch

Gordon Hirabayashi died on January 2, at age 93.

The Washington Post obituary notes that the  federal government put him in a prison during the 1940s. President Franklin Roosevelt issued many decrees, but the one that would lead to Hirabayashi’s imprisonment, Executive Order 9066, said that thousands of Americans residing on the West Coast had to leave their jobs and homes and promptly report to certain prison camps (“relocation centers”).  The feds said actual proof of wrongdoing was unnecessary.

Hirabayashi refused to go along with the program, so he was prosecuted for disobeying the president and jailed. The courts rejected his argument that FDR had exceeded the powers of his office.  In an interview in 1985, Hirabayashi looked back on his ordeal and said, “My citizenship didn’t protect me one bit.  Our Constitution was reduced to a scrap of paper.”

Even though there are written safeguards concerning due process, habeas corpus, and jury trial, presidents will sometimes assert the power to override all that. FDR did it. George W. Bush did it. And Barack Obama wants to reserve the option to do it.

On January 17, Cato will be hosting a book forum about FDR’s war policies and civil liberties.

For related Cato scholarship, go here and here.
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« Reply #31 on: May 02, 2012, 01:17:15 PM »

When Stalinism Was in Vogue

Lillian Hellman disdained a system that made her fabulously rich while romanticizing one that made its citizens spectacularly poor.

Upon returning from the Soviet Union in 1933, the British writer Malcolm Muggeridge, stunned by the privation and state terror of communism, wondered how it was possible that "so many obvious and fundamental facts about Russia are not noticed even by serious and intelligent visitors." In 1937, as Stalin commenced his psychopathic purge of "Trotskyite enemies," the serious and intelligent playwright Lillian Hellman arrived in Moscow a stalwart supporter of Bolshevism, eager to demonstrate Muggeridge's point.

Hellman, who cycled between writing for the theater and fattening her wallet producing Hollywood melodrama, would cite this Potemkin visit to Moscow as inspiration for "The North Star," her 1943 screenplay celebrating a verdant collective farm in Ukraine whose productive peasants—singing, insouciant comrades—were rudely dispersed by invading Nazis. The critic Mary McCarthy, who would later emerge as one of Hellman's fiercest detractors, declared the film a "tissue of falsehoods woven of every variety of untruth."

The script earned Hellman an Oscar nomination. But a decade later it would also earn her a subpoena from the House Committee on Un-American Activities—and a reputation as an iron-spined dissident. In a letter to the committee, Hellman declared that she would not "cut my conscience to fit this year's fashions," while insisting that she had little interest in politics.

Like most of Hellman's public statements about her political activities, this was a lie. It is because of her political activism that Hellman, whose literary output was of variable quality, has been the subject of countless biographies and academic studies. In "A Difficult Woman," Alice Kessler-Harris, a professor of history at Columbia University, returns to this well-tilled soil, offering an "empathetic view of Hellman and her politics."

Like most book-length treatments of Hellman, "A Difficult Woman" is less concerned with her oeuvre than with relitigating the politics of anticommunism. Now that key claims of American radicalism have been upended by revelations from the Soviet archives—the innocence of Alger Hiss and Julius Rosenberg, the independence of the American Communist Party—Ms. Kessler-Harris grouses that "victory went to those who defined communism as the enemy of national security."

Enlarge Image

Close.A Difficult Woman
By Alice Kessler-Harris
(Bloomsbury, 439 pages, $30)
.One can dip into a shallow reserve of sympathy for those who, like Muggeridge, were briefly seduced by utopianism and soon disabused by reality. But Hellman deserves no such leniency. Ms. Kessler-Harris marvels that Hellman "dedicated much of her life to the cause of civil liberties; in return, she earned the Stalinist label." This is giving Hellman short shrift: she worked rather hard to earn the Stalinist label.

Consider: Hellman zealously supported the Moscow line on Trotsky, offering no criticism when he was murdered by Kremlin agents; she defended Stalin's mass executions of party cadres in 1937-38, signing a petition that accused the victims of being "spies and wreckers" of socialism; she supported Stalin's alliance with Nazi Germany, despite her supposed devotion to "anti-fascism," and defended Moscow's indefensible invasion of Finland in 1939-40, claiming that the country supported Nazism and deserved no pity, a scurrilous lie that Ms. Kessler-Harris leaves unchallenged.

Hellman disdained a system that made her fabulously rich while romanticizing one that made its citizens spectacularly poor. And as Hellman biographer Carl Rollyson noted, she never made "more than a grudging admission of how profoundly wrong she was about Stalin." Unlike Martin Heidegger and Ezra Pound, both of whom supported a different genocidal tyrant, Hellman barely saw her reputation suffer because of her repellent allegiances.

Ms. Kessler-Harris's defense of Hellman and others who refused to abjure Stalinism will sound familiar. While some party apparatchiks were "vaguely aware in the 1930s of Stalin's increasingly ruthless methods"—a rather limp way of describing a roiling genocide—one must remember that "this was, after all, a period when rumors flew." Soviet enthusiasts like Hellman, Ms. Kessler-Harris writes, were merely showing a commitment to "social justice" and not Stalinism per se. The Communist Party plumped for the noble goals of racial equality and a vaguely defined "peace," leading Ms. Kessler-Harris to ask: "How could [Hellman] not have joined?" It is a question easily answered by Alfred Kazin, Irving Howe and countless other liberal intellectuals who understood the axiomatic immorality of Bolshevism.

Ms. Kessler-Harris claims that American anti-communists waged campaigns "filled with hyperbole and outright lies." But it was the Stalinists, Hellman included, who made falsehood a core principle. Her penchant for fantastical tales prompted Mary McCarthy's acid comment that "every word she writes is a lie, including 'and' and 'the.' " The story of Hellman's friendship with "Julia," an Austrian working in the anti-fascist resistance whom she supposedly assisted, was put forward in Hellman's memoir "Pentimento" (1973) and made into a Hollywood film. The story, it turned out, was cribbed from an acquaintance. (The film's director would later denounce Hellman as a "phony.")

Ms. Kessler-Harris acknowledges Hellman's prevarications only grudgingly, resorting to a tedious postmodern explanation that writers are entitled to their own version of "truth"—though Hellman insisted that stories like Julia's were literal truth. Despite voluminous evidence to the contrary, Ms. Kessler-Harris insists that Hellman's "concern for accuracy persisted throughout her life." Not when it came to her memoirs and certainly not when it came to communism's crimes. The previous draft of history was correct: The anticommunists were right, and Hellman was profoundly, inexcusably wrong.

Mr. Moynihan is a contributing editor of Reason magazine.

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« Reply #32 on: July 03, 2012, 07:02:21 PM »

Delight and despair jostle in the mind when reading Leon Aron's masterly survey of the greatest period of Russian-language journalism—the heady years between the birth of Mikhail Gorbachev's glasnost (openness) policy in 1987 and the death of the Soviet Union in 1991.

The delight is in the intoxicating evocation of freedom unleashed. For this writer, who was there, the pleasure is particularly sharp because the book stirs many fond memories. In the words of Alexander Yakovlev, a leading reformer, it was a time when people "tore off the rusted locks of bolshevism and let truth out of an iron cage." Those who had been muzzled and misinformed for decades could suddenly find the truth and speak it.

The despair lies in what came before and afterward. The stories unearthed were of mass murder, colossal waste, vile prejudice and grotesque dishonesty. Many of those wrongs were exposed but not righted. And after 1991 the yearnings for truth and liberty fizzled away in the messy, greedy politics of the Boris Yeltsin years, and the crony capitalism of Vladimir Putin and his sinister friends that followed.

Mr. Aron is a distinguished scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington and a skillful polemicist. He brings this history of Russian journalism to life with a fine attention to detail and a bold narrative sweep. He and his researchers have read a colossal amount of newspapers and magazines from those years, and filleted them for the most telling phrases, anecdotes and arguments.

The title of "Roads to the Temple" alludes to movie scene that Mr. Aron describes in his introduction: In director Tengiz Abuladze's "magnificent anti-Stalinist saga" made in 1987, a work that "heralded glasnost," the final scene shows an older woman asking a passerby which street leads to a temple or church. The stranger says: "Not this one." The woman replies: "What's the use of a street if it does not lead to the temple?"

Enlarge Image

Close.Roads to the Temple
By Leon Aron
(Yale, 483 pages, $40)
.Mr. Aron notes: "All great revolutions begin with the search for streets, or roads, to the 'temple'—a kingdom of dignity, justice, goodness, fairness, equality, freedom, brotherhood." Russians began that search as the Soviet Union crumbled. Reporters fanned out across the nation, bringing back stories that exploded myths long promoted by Moscow—like the "golden childhood" supposedly enjoyed by every Soviet youth. The media told of children as young as 10 forced to work in fields for 12 hours a day; in 1986, there were "35,000 labor accidents involving children under fourteen." News stories showed harrowing conditions in orphanages. Soviet medicine was revealed as a disaster. A doctor "cried out" to a Pravda interviewer in 1987 about the lack of ultrasound equipment, shortages that led to the deaths of countless babies: "Not a single Soviet-made [ultrasound] machine in thirty years! In the era of space exploration!"

The greatest target was Stalinism—a taboo subject since the failed Khrushchev thaw of the mid-1950s and early 1960s. Even if the Soviet Union had been an economic, cultural and social success story, it could scarcely have survived the revelation that it was based on the murder by shooting and starvation of millions of innocent people, and the enslavement of tens of millions. As Mr. Aron recounts, secret archives were opened and firsthand accounts by former prisoners were aired. "In the November 27, 1988, issue of Moskovskie novosti . . . Marxist historian and former dissident Roy Medvedev for the first time in the Soviet press" estimated the number of arrested, imprisoned or executed under Stalin before 1937—"no less than" 10 million died.

Mr. Aron also captures well the sensational 1989 revelation of the secret protocols of the Molotov-Ribbentrop nonaggression pact of 1939. The public emergence of the pact's details destroyed the great myth of Soviet wartime history: that Stalin's deal with Hitler was a wise tactical ruse to buy time for the Soviet war machine, when in truth it was a sincere and disastrous miscalculation. The valor of the Soviet Union's soldiers was the only aspect of the war, Mr. Aron says, that did not come "under assault by the glasnost mythslayers."

On top of all the historical truth-telling came public soul-searching about the corrosive effects of the modern Soviet system on morals and behavior. As Maya Ganina wrote in Literaturnaya gazeta in 1988: "Let's find out at what point in our lives bribery, thievery, lies, humiliation of the powerless and servility towards the powers that be have become more than just a deviation from the norm."

Mr. Aron writes: "The most urgent concern was not the economy itself but rather what it did to the men and women who worked in it: their ideas, their views of themselves, their conscience—their 'souls.' Surrounded by waste and negligence, poverty and neglect, arbitrariness and incompetence of all-powerful bureaucracies implementing myriad irrational laws and regulation, men and women were found to have lost much of what was needed to make their country free and prosperous."

And so it proved. The journalists and commentators in the 1990s soon concluded that the country needed four huge changes, which Mr. Aron renders as debolshevization, privatization, deimperialization and demilitarization. But diagnosing the problem is not the same as curing it. Two decades later, Russia is plagued by much the same woes: arbitrary power, feeble property rights, a desire to bully its old empire, and a top-heavy and expensive military. And the Russian media today live with the sobering knowledge that several crusading reporters have been murdered in crimes that remain unsolved. Though far freer than it was in the Soviet ice age, Russian journalism lacks the sparkle, passion and integrity that it displayed in the vibrant era that Mr. Aron describes so well.

Mr. Lucas, international editor of the Economist, is the author, most recently, of "Deception: The Untold Story of East-West Espionage Today" (Walker & Co).

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« Reply #33 on: July 14, 2012, 10:32:23 PM »

Hat tip to BD and pasting here the following from another thread.

On a personal note, I was in communist Yugoslavia when I was 11 years old and have some vivid memories of it.
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« Reply #34 on: October 27, 2012, 07:30:08 AM »

A Most Secret Tragedy
The Great Leap Forward aimed to make China an industrial giant—instead it killed 45 million.

It is difficult to look dispassionately at some 45 million dead. It was not war that produced this shocking number, nor natural disaster. It was a man. It was politics and one man's vanity. The cause was famine and violence across rural China, a result of Mao Zedong's unchecked drive to turn his country rapidly into a communist utopia and a leading industrial nation.

The dead were in effect victims of Mao's determination, at the end of the 1950s, to push the Soviet Union off its perch as leader of the world communist movement following Nikita Khrushchev's denunciation of Stalin. Khrushchev had boasted in May 1957 that the Soviet Union would overtake the United States as the world's leading industrial and agricultural power within 10 years. Mao sought a similar goal for China, but over a much shorter period. In "Tombstone," Yang Jisheng quotes the words of Mao, which became a rallying call: "go all out, aim high, and achieve greater, faster, better and more economical results in socialist construction."

Closely monitored by the authorities Ganzu province. Yumen. 1958. Whatever the city, whatever the region, the sound of drums and cymbals announces a workers delegation marching to administration headquarters to tell of a new high in their production. Oil workers from the Petrol Combine, whose production has jumped 200% in the past ten years.

By Yang Jisheng
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 629 pages, $35

The Great Famine in China, 1958-1962
Edited by Zhou Xun
Yale, 204 pages, $45

In 1958, Mao launched the "Great Leap Forward," a manic and coercive mobilization of China into "Peoples Communes"—giant collective farms and administrative units. Almost overnight, China was transformed into 26,000 communes. Armies of peasants, prisoners and city dwellers were dragooned to build vast power and irrigation projects that were either not completed or were improperly constructed and failed. The countryside was militarized and regimented into work battalions and work brigades.

Deep Inside China's Heart of darkness
To mark the 50th anniversary of the famine's end, Zhou Xun, a professor at the University of Hong Kong, has compiled a selection of
key reports. 'The Great Famine in China, 1958-62: A Documentary History' is a journey into China's heart of darkness.

Michael Fathers

1958: from a report on food shortages and riots in 16 provinces

'Shandong: Since the end of March over 670,000 people have had their food supplies completely cut off, and over 150,000 people have been forced to flee and become beggars. . . . Guangdong: The famine in the spring caused 963,231 people to go without food and seven people have died. . . . Gansu: Severe famine has become prevalent, and people have been eating tree bark and grass roots to satisfy their hunger.'

1961: from a report by a regional party committee in Sichuan

'In this commune, from the winter of 1959 to the spring of 1960, about 2,357 people died, which is 14.5 percent of the total population. Of those who died, 40 were beaten to death, and 32 were forced to commit suicide. More than 300 were deliberately starved to death. Some of them were not given anything to eat for more than half a month.'

1961: from a study of 40 cases of cannibalism in Gansu Province

'February 17, 1960. Location: Nansheng big production brigade in Hongtai commune. Culprit's name: Yang Shengzhong. Victim's relation to the culprit: Son. Number of victims: 1. Manner of crime: Cooked the victim's corpse and consumed the flesh. Reason: To survive.'

1961: from a report by the 'rectification campaign' team in Sichuan

'[Communist Party] Cadres in this county regularly violate the law. They torture people by hanging them up, beating them, looting their houses and depriving them of food. They have even beaten and starved people to death. They have become completely lawless, and it is no longer possible to tolerate this.'

1962: from a report on the famine in Sichuan province

'In Beifue district. . . all the banana trees in the People's Park, the old people's home in the district, and the local state farm have been ripped up and the roots consumed by hungry villagers . . . villagers forced their way into the compound of the county Party Committee and peeled the bark off all the trees and consumed it . . . In Jiangbei county, more than 27,000 villagers have been consuming "immortal earth" [clay] to assuage their hunger.'

Family kitchens were destroyed; even utensils were taken over by the commune or fed to "backyard furnaces" and melted down into useless iron lumps. All food was served in canteens and distributed according to merit; for the uncooperative, starvation was the punishment of first resort. When food ran out the canteen closed and peasants were left to scavenge.

Houses were knocked down to make way for gigantic piggeries that were often never completed. Inhabitants were left to sleep in the open; some moved in with the pigs. Doors, windows, lintels and wooden beams were ripped from homes to provide fuel for the backyard furnaces. If anything was held back, its owner was punished or tortured. "We can start communism with food, clothes and housing," Mao declared. "Collective canteens, free food, that is communism."

Communist cadres in the provinces competed for Mao's attention and praise, striving to outdo one another with highly inflated estimates of harvests. Radical new planting techniques, supposed to yield massive amounts of wheat and other grains, were backbreaking failures or ruinous fakes.

On Khrushchev's last visit to Beijing in 1958, before the split between the two communist giants became a chasm, Mao boasted to Khrushchev that China had more rice than its citizens could eat; his chief worry was how to deal with the surplus. In reality, the people were already starving.

By the end of 1958, as agricultural production fell sharply and government quotas were raised to fantastic levels, famine spread. In July 1959, at a conference of senior leaders at the hilltop resort of Lushan, China's defense minister, Marshal Peng Dehuai, led a move to review the Great Leap Forward and to halt, or at least rein in, the drive to total collectivization.

Peng, a peasant hero and veteran of the communists' revolutionary war, had visited his and Mao's home province of Hunan and seen the suffering first hand. He would be destroyed by Mao, branded a "right deviationist" and the leader of an "anti-party clique." From then on, any attempt to relieve the peasants' suffering was crushed, as purges swept through the country.

The famine lasted until 1962, when Mao was finally outmaneuvered by his lieutenants, including China's president Liu Shaoqi and the chairman of the State Planning Commission Li Fuchu. Liu Shaoqi, while not directly criticizing Mao, told a mass meeting of 7,000 leading cadres from across China that farmers believed their problems were due 30% to natural calamities and 70% to man-made disaster. In the words of Frank Dikötter, the leading historian of the Great Famine, "the very use of the term 'man-made disaster' was a bombshell, drawing gasps from the audience." The communes were dismantled and China's peasants were able to cultivate and grow and cook their own food once more. Harvests improved rapidly.

Mao never forgave his opponents for this affront. In his eyes Liu Shaoqi had become China's Khrushchev, and Mao set about plotting his revenge. What followed, in 1966, was the "Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution," a decade of anarchy and violence. The Communist Party was torn apart. Suspect leaders and cadres, along with their families, were crushed, or were killed, or were scattered to China's remotest and impoverished regions. Liu Shaoqi was tortured and allowed to die.

For decades historians in the West believed the Cultural Revolution was modern China's greatest trauma—the famine that came with Mao's Great Leap Forward had been successfully hidden.

It was only after 1979, with Mao dead and the radical leftists that had surrounded him purged or in jail, that China's open-door policy enabled academics and statisticians to investigate what the country had become after the Communist Party captured power in 1949. When limited access to population statistics was permitted in the 1980s, demographers caught a hint of the secret China had kept from the world.

The country's leaders had told the world China was brimming with food and revolutionary prosperity. It lauded the Great Leap Forward and the benefits that came from communal life and the management of resources. It pointed to remarkable engineering feats using mass labor to build large-scale dams and canals and create new irrigated farmlands in former wastelands, and the scientific achievements made in cropping.

Abroad this propaganda was portrayed as fact. During the Great Leap Forward, fellow travelers were allowed to visit China on closely monitored tours of the countryside. Briton Felix Greene declared that death by hunger had ceased in China. The scientist and distinguished Cambridge University Sinologist Joseph Needham said it was nonsense even to think that peasants might be oppressed. He declared that communal kitchens, the most hated symbol of collectivization, were symbols of pride. Other prominent foreigners invited to China to be hoodwinked included Britain's war hero Bernard Montgomery, and François Mitterrand, later to be elected president of France.

Setbacks were said to have been caused by droughts and floods. Some even put forward Mao's China as a development model. The first president of newly independent Tanzania, Julius Nyerere, turned to Mao for inspiration, pushing thousands of small farmers into experimental collectives in the 1960s. These were as hated and economically useless as China's. Similar moves were forced on Ethiopians in the 1970s by the young, radical colonels who had ousted and murdered Haile Selassie.

In the 1990s, the truth began to emerge for everyone outside China to see. Jasper Becker, a former correspondent in China for the Guardian, published "Hungry Ghosts: China's Secret Famine" (1996)—the first accessible account of China's man-made catastrophe. Readers were shocked by the estimate of the dead, the violence involved and the fear among the Chinese of speaking out, even 30 years afterward.

Scholars began a relentless and painstaking cat-and-mouse game, heading to provincial Communist Party offices, searching for copies of high-level documents on the famine that had been dispatched from Beijing and forgotten. In Beijing, the original documents are still closed to outside eyes in the party's central archives. And important pieces of evidence are being covered up again: Some originals transcribed in Zhou Xun's chastening documentary history, "The Great Famine in China, 1958-1962" (see sidebar) have since been reclassified by the Beijing authorities and vanished once more into closed files.

In 2010, Frank Dikötter produced "Mao's Great Famine," an authoritative account of the catastrophe, written with a bravura seldom seen in Western writing on modern China. Impassioned and outraged, Mr. Dikötter detailed the destruction, the suffering and the cruelty or hubris of China's leaders. Sorting through forgotten and hidden documents with great intellectual honesty, Mr. Dikötter ended his journey pointing his finger directly at Mao, who notoriously said, as he called for higher grain deliveries from the countryside at the height of the famine: "It is better to let half the people die so that the other half can eat their fill."

For the general reader, "Mao's Great Famine" is unlikely to be bettered. "Tombstone" is something quite different, a condensed, yet magisterial 600-page edition of a densely detailed, two-volume Chinese-language account by Yang Jisheng, a retired Chinese journalist and Communist Party member.

The author lacks Mr. Dikötter's narrative skills, and readers may find "Tombstone" heavy going at times. But as a researcher Mr. Yang steps carefully through the barrage of statistics and the acres of interviews he conducted. He ranges across China from devastated province to devastated province, in and out of the political struggles as Mao's authority wanes and rises, the "leap-forward," the "right-deviationist" campaigns, the propaganda battles, the mass mobilizations, the fawning and fear at the very top and the horror and death at the bottom. The panorama is enormous but it is often the detail that is most memorable.

As a teenager in 1959, Mr. Yang watched his father die of starvation. Years later, while working in a senior editorial post at Xinhua, China's state-controlled news agency, he began his own search for the truth behind the famine. The author spent 20 years tracking down survivors across China and using his authority as a respected Communist cadre to access provincial archives. It was, in part, expiation for his shame in not questioning his father's death.

As a young man Yang had been an ardent believer in Mao's Great Leap Forward. "I harbored no doubts regarding the Party's propaganda about the accomplishments of the Great Leap Forward or the advantages of the People's Communes," he writes. In his old age Mr. Yang reveals that the ceaseless mass criticisms and harsh punishments he witnessed during his youth instilled a feeling of dread, a dread that seeped into his psyche and fed his instinct for survival.

Mr. Yang concludes that Mao Zedong knew early on that his policies of extracting extortionate levels of foodstuffs from an impoverished countryside were killing millions. He uncovers the "arrest plans" and the quotas given to the police and militia for each province in dealing with those accused of speaking out against the Great Leap Forward and the regime. It was as if the quotas were political production targets. In 1958 Anhui province, a center of the famine, was given an "arrest quota" from the central government of 45,000 people. Officials surpassed the quota with 101,000 arrests. Many of those arrested died of starvation in labor camps.

There is no memorial anywhere in China to the victims of the famine, no public monument, no remembrance day. Graves are not marked and mass burial grounds have disappeared into the landscape. The famine's very existence has been denied. The Communist Party will only admit to "food shortages" and "some difficulties" during the Great Leap Forward. They claim that these setbacks were a result of natural disasters.

Mr. Yang set about writing his book as a tombstone for his father and for every victim who had died from starvation. He was also erecting a tombstone for the system that brought about the Great Famine. First published in Hong Kong in 2008, Mr. Yang's work is banned in China. The reason is clear: The book challenges the very foundation of the Communist Party's authority. As China's Communist Party chieftains gather later this year in Beijing to proclaim their self-given and unaccountable authority to govern, Chinese may wonder whether the lesson of the famine has been learned.

—Mr. Fathers is co-author, with Andrew Higgins, of "Tiananmen:
The Rape of Peking."
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« Reply #35 on: November 17, 2012, 04:40:05 PM »

Oliver Stone’s Party Line
By Clifford D. May
November 15, 2012 12:00 A.M.

In the 1930s, quite a few people failed to recognize the threat posed by Nazi ideology. In their eyes, Hitler was simply restoring Germany’s wounded pride and rebuilding an economy battered by World War I and the harsh treaty that ended the conflict. Surely, Hitler and the German people preferred compromise to conflict, peace to war. This view turned out to be wrong, of course, and tens of millions of people were massacred as a result.

In the wake of World War II, quite a few people failed to recognize the threat posed by Communist ideology. In their eyes, Marxist/Leninist societies were emancipating workers from capitalism. This view turned out to be wrong as well, and in lands as diverse as the Soviet Union, China, North Korea, and Cambodia, tens of millions of people were massacred as a result. Today, of course, we see the world more clearly, don’t we? Well, some do, some don’t.

Ronald Radosh was born in 1937 in New York City and raised in a Communist household. In his youth, he planned to become a leader of the American Communist movement. But he became a historian — one of those relatively rare historians who actually studies the past and learns from it rather than attempting to shape it retrospectively to fit his ideological preconceptions.

Anything Radosh writes is worth reading. Most recently he has written a critique in The Weekly Standard of Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States, which premiered this week on Showtime, a cable network owned by CBS. Radosh makes clear that this series, in fact, reveals no “untold history” — it merely reheats and rehashes the party line pushed by the Soviets and their fellow travelers during the Cold War, a line that Stone swallowed long ago and has since been regurgitating.
Stone argues, as Radosh puts it, that “the Soviet Union’s leader in the 1930s and ’40s, Joseph Stalin, has ‘been vilified pretty thoroughly by history,’ so what is needed is a program allowing viewers to walk in both his and Hitler’s shoes ‘to understand their point of view.’”

Stone also alleges that “after World War II the United States moved ‘to the dark side,’ so that by the time the country was engaged in the Vietnam war, ‘We were not on the wrong side. We were the wrong side.’”

Radosh points out not only the factual errors littered throughout Stone’s series but also the conspicuous omissions. For example:

Viewers are told that World War II ended with the world sharing the hopes and dreams of progressives everywhere, led by Stalin, whose desire for continued Allied unity and peace was rebuffed by Winston Churchill and rejected by President Roosevelt’s accidental successor, Harry Truman. The viewer is never told of Soviet goals or practices, like the brutal occupation of Eastern Europe by the Red Army and the overthrow of its governments and installation of Soviet puppet regimes, except when the narrative justifies this as necessary for Soviet security.

Stone makes a hero of Vice President Henry Wallace, who, Radosh notes, in 1944 “traveled to 22 cities in Soviet Siberia” and “described the slave labor colony of Magadan, which the Soviet secret police had transformed into a Potemkin village staffed by actors and NKVD personnel, as a ‘combination TVA and Hudson’s Bay Company.’”
Later that same year, Roosevelt bumped Wallace from the No. 2 spot on the Democratic ticket, replacing him with Truman. Wallace’s consolation prize was secretary of commerce, but President Truman fired him in 1946. The cause of Wallace’s firing was call for the U.S. to recognize Soviet domination of Eastern Europe; he later “opposed the creation of NATO, advocated abandoning Berlin in response to the Soviet blockade, denounced the Marshall Plan for European reconstruction as ‘the martial plan,’ and justified the 1948 Communist coup in Czechoslovakia as a measure to thwart a plot by fascist forces.”

Wallace went on to create the Progressive Party, which, as Radosh notes, was essentially a Communist Party front. Even journalist I.  F. Stone (no kin to Oliver), a man of the Left, wrote: “If it had not been for the Communists, there would have been no Progressive party.”

Stone’s réchauffé Cold War revisionism, Radosh writes, “consistently portrays the Soviet Union as the victim of American imperialism, while regarding the monster Stalin as a peaceful leader who sought only to gain valid security guarantees on his borders.”

Coincidentally, this exercise in propaganda is hitting the small screens just as Anne Applebaum’s Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944–1956, is appearing in bookstores. Following up on her 2003 Pulitzer Prize–winning volume on the Soviet prison system, Gulag: A History, Applebaum draws on recently opened archives and interviews with survivors of Communist oppression. She “eloquently illuminates the methods by which Stalin’s state imprisoned half the European continent,” as historian Jennifer Siegel phrases it in one of many favorable reviews.

Will more people be educated by Applebaum or misinformed by Stone? The answer is obvious. Does it matter? In an age of moral equivalence, how much damage can be done by yet another generous serving? So what if more Americans — especially those who call themselves “progressives” — come to believe that old Uncle Joe Stalin got a raw deal, and Harry Truman was a “war criminal”?

I think it does matter. Not only because post-Soviet Russia remains conspicuously unfree, but, more important, because those persuaded that the 20th-century fight against totalitarianism was not worth the candle are likely to conclude that defending America and the West is not necessary now — a time when totalitarianism is again on the march, this time seeking not to establish a dictatorship of the proletariat or rule by a master race, but domination by religious supremacists.

It is no exaggeration to describe those who embrace the ideology of jihadism as neo-Stalinists. They, too, insist on infusing their ideology — which, in this case, is their theology as well — into every aspect of life. They, too, attack not just those who oppose them but also those who merely refuse to fully submit to their authority. Their victims include Jews, Christians, Baha’is, Buddhists, Hindus, and, not least, Muslims — most recently those whose ancient mosques and shrines have been destroyed in Libya and Mali.
Stone and his ilk — not to mention Showtime and CBS — are doing damage. Out of ignorance or maliciousness? The two are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary, they are a potent combination.

— Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a policy institute focusing on national security.

Dark Blots on the Blank Slate

An epic yet intimate history of how the Soviets attempted to remake every aspect of life in Eastern Europe in the wake of World War II.

Young children, the prime minister of East Germany declared in 1949, are "our cleanest and best human material"—the blankest slates for the transformation of human society that the newly communist state was undertaking. In the wake of World War II, traditions throughout Eastern Europe were being replaced by structures and ideas that supported Soviet control. The Soviet-supervised system tried to reshape Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, Hungarians, Germans and the other peoples of the Eastern Bloc into what was sarcastically called Homo Sovieticus, or Soviet Man—a more compliant species so thoroughly inculcated in Soviet ideology as to be incapable of even conceiving of opposing it.
In "Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe 1944-1956," Anne Applebaum chronicles this dismantling of the political, social and cultural order, from the end of the war to the failed revolutions of 1956. Focusing on Poland, Hungary and East Germany, she eloquently illuminates the methods by which Stalin's state imprisoned half the European continent. With "Iron Curtain," she completes the totalitarian diptych she began in "Gulag" (2003), a Pulitzer Prize-winning study of the horrors of the Soviet prison-camp system.

photo: Uprising A Hungarian soldier, wearing an armband marking his defection to the anti-USSR insurgents, stands near a damaged Soviet tank in Budapest, late 1956.

The Soviets' project had begun with their 1939 non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany, which granted the U.S.S.R. control over much of the territory beyond its western frontier. It continued with the aggressive "liberation" of Eastern Europe from Nazi tyranny at the end of World War II. The Soviet troops, as they marched toward Berlin, seemed at times more focused on the postwar than on the speedy conclusion of the war itself. Partisans fighting the Nazis who were not directly affiliated with the communists were sent to work camps or the gulag, rather than to the front, lest they eventually threaten Soviet rule.

The postwar period brought the imposition of more permanent control in the areas through which the Red Army had advanced. This outcome had been accepted by Britain and the United States during the wartime conferences of Yalta and Potsdam, out of a combination of naïvete and pragmatism. But the peoples of Eastern Europe did not universally accept—even grudgingly—communist rule. Anti-Nazi groups were reconstituted as anti-communist, as in the morphing of segments of the Polish Home Army into the resistance group WiN (Freedom and Independence).

But even those with no political orientation were treated as a threat. From the Soviet perspective, as Ms. Applebaum explains, "an active participant in any political group other than the communist party was a suspicious figure by definition, and probably a saboteur or spy." Those who opposed or were presumed to oppose the state were shipped off to prisons and camps modeled on the gulag, some of which, in a dark irony, were located in former Nazi concentration camps.

The theme of imprisonment is one that runs throughout the book and, Ms. Applebaum suggests, throughout postwar Eastern Europe. Under the Soviet system, thousands of people, young and old, were arrested and incarcerated "on the slightest suspicion of any form of 'anti-Soviet' politics." Willing collaborators with the Nazi regime received the same treatment as those who had been conscripted to the cause or had even abstained from it. In Hungary, Ms. Applebaum writes, the Soviets at first "seemed unsure of how, exactly, a fascist might be identified"; the result was arbitrary detentions in which men and even teenagers were "told they were being taken away to do 'a little work' " before disappearing for years.

Imprisonment was not the only tool in the Soviets' kit. Violence on an individual, ethnic and national level was commonplace. Whole populations were moved, often along lines that closely resembled Nazi ethnic cleansing. What Hitler had started in Europe—forced migrations to clear territory for citizens and ethnicities deemed more likely to support the governing status quo—the Soviets continued as a means of establishing control, although without the Nazi's genocidal ambitions.

Germans were transferred from Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Romania. Poland's western border was shifted into Germany, while its eastern frontier moved west, leaving formerly Polish territory and populations behind Soviet lines. Ms. Applebaum notes that the mass transfer of populations had been positively encouraged by the British and Americans at Potsdam, who considered competing nationalistic claims to have been a destabilizing force.

It was not only the Germans, the war's defeated, who suffered. The Poles—so often treated by the U.S.S.R. as defeated aggressors rather than as victims of both Nazi and Soviet aggression—were subject to deportation and massacre along the Polish-Ukrainian frontier; in turn, Ukrainians who found themselves on the Polish side of the new border were hounded and forcibly resettled far from their homeland. On the Hungarian-Slovak border, the forced migrations were claimed to be "voluntary," but the "volunteers" had been persuaded to leave by an almost complete denial of their civil rights. The combined effects of these forced migrations and attempts at ethnic cleansing were stark: "By 1950," Ms. Applebaum writes, "not much remained of the multi-ethnic Eastern Europe. Only nostalgia—Ukrainian nostalgia, Polish nostalgia, Hungarian nostalgia, German nostalgia—endured."

The Soviets had plenty of help from local populations who were eager to punish the defeated and benefit from their abandoned property. Poles were instructed to expel the "German filth from Polish lands" in part to free up needed housing in the war-torn state. Often, as Ms. Applebaum illustrates, "resettled Poles walked into German houses where the tea kettles were still sitting on the stoves." The Soviets also had help from their client rulers. While the model for the repressive police state came from Moscow, it was often the local leadership that escalated the crackdown on civil liberties and opposition.

Ms. Applebaum details the steps taken by Bolesław Bierut, the leader of Poland until late 1952, to "battle against the activities of the enemy," whom he saw everywhere: in the underground movements, among "clerics," social democrats, former members of the Home Army who had fought against Hitler, and even (perhaps especially) former communists who had split from the party. The Polish secret police eventually identified 43 categories of "enemies" of the state, encompassing by 1954 six million individuals. In Hungary, the secret police gave special attention to "potential" enemies. In East Germany, the Stasi obsessed over real and imaginary Western spies. In Romania, the target was anyone associated with any pre-communist governments or the church. No one was safe from observation or worse.

Opposition to Soviet control did exist, however. In the early, exhausted days of the postwar, it appeared in the form of civil organizations that were quickly crushed. In the later years of what Ms. Applebaum calls "High Stalinism," the opposition was more subtle, coming in "jokes, graffiti and unsigned letters." It could be seen in the Western-influenced narrow trousers preferred by young men; in the sneaker-like rubber-soled shoes favored by Hungarian jampecek ("slackers"); in brightly colored shirts and ties that clashed with the conformist uniforms of communist youth movements; and in the dissident obsession with jazz.

After Stalin's death in 1953, the opposition to Soviet domination shifted from passive to active. In East Germany, Poland and Hungary, strikes brought political change. But change brought crackdowns and tanks, as in the Hungarian uprising of late 1956, which managed to bring down the government before the Soviets brutally reasserted control. The uprising demonstrated that Soviet efforts to create Homo Sovieticus had been insufficient, that the peoples of Eastern Europe had not been cowed by violence and mass incarceration or inspired by socialist indoctrination. They were still more than capable of opposing the Soviet system. Sadly, the fate of the uprising also showed that Soviet brute force was still effective.

In this epic but intimate history, Ms. Applebaum offers us windows into the lives of the men and sometimes women who constructed the police states of Eastern Europe. She gives us a glimpse of those who resisted. But she also gives us a harrowing portrait of the rest—the majority of Eastern Europe's population, who, having been caught up in the continent's conflicts time and time again, now found themselves pawns in a global one: "Most people wanted neither to be party bosses nor angry dissidents. They wanted to get on with their lives, rebuild their countries, educate their children, feed their families and stay far away from those in power. But the culture of High Stalinist Eastern Europe made it impossible to do so in silent neutrality. No one could be apolitical."

—Ms. Siegel is a history professor at Ohio State University.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2012, 04:43:01 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #36 on: December 09, 2012, 12:25:38 PM »

Though the review sounds rather wooly-headed to me in part, I post it here simply because ANY movies about the evils of the Soviet Empire's communism in East Europe are so rare:,0,6203828.story
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« Reply #37 on: January 06, 2013, 09:39:30 AM »

An excerpt from
They Thought They Were Free
The Germans, 1933-45
Milton Mayer

But Then It Was Too Late
"What no one seemed to notice," said a colleague of mine, a philologist, "was the ever widening gap, after 1933, between the government and the people. Just think how very wide this gap was to begin with, here in Germany. And it became always wider. You know, it doesn’t make people close to their government to be told that this is a people’s government, a true democracy, or to be enrolled in civilian defense, or even to vote. All this has little, really nothing, to do with knowing one is governing.

"What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could not understand it, it could not be released because of national security. And their sense of identification with Hitler, their trust in him, made it easier to widen this gap and reassured those who would otherwise have worried about it.

"This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, took place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps not even intentionally) as a temporary emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes. And all the crises and reforms (real reforms, too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter.

"You will understand me when I say that my Middle High German was my life. It was all I cared about. I was a scholar, a specialist. Then, suddenly, I was plunged into all the new activity, as the university was drawn into the new situation; meetings, conferences, interviews, ceremonies, and, above all, papers to be filled out, reports, bibliographies, lists, questionnaires. And on top of that were the demands in the community, the things in which one had to, was ‘expected to’ participate that had not been there or had not been important before. It was all rigmarole, of course, but it consumed all one’s energies, coming on top of the work one really wanted to do. You can see how easy it was, then, not to think about fundamental things. One had no time."

"Those," I said, "are the words of my friend the baker. ‘One had no time to think. There was so much going on.’"

"Your friend the baker was right," said my colleague. "The dictatorship, and the whole process of its coming into being, was above all diverting. It provided an excuse not to think for people who did not want to think anyway. I do not speak of your ‘little men,’ your baker and so on; I speak of my colleagues and myself, learned men, mind you. Most of us did not want to think about fundamental things and never had. There was no need to. Nazism gave us some dreadful, fundamental things to think about—we were decent people—and kept us so busy with continuous changes and ‘crises’ and so fascinated, yes, fascinated, by the machinations of the ‘national enemies,’ without and within, that we had no time to think about these dreadful things that were growing, little by little, all around us. Unconsciously, I suppose, we were grateful. Who wants to think?

"To live in this process is absolutely not to be able to notice it—please try to believe me—unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us had ever had occasion to develop. Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, ‘regretted,’ that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these ‘little measures’ that no ‘patriotic German’ could resent must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head.

"How is this to be avoided, among ordinary men, even highly educated ordinary men? Frankly, I do not know. I do not see, even now. Many, many times since it all happened I have pondered that pair of great maxims, Principiis obsta and Finem respice—‘Resist the beginnings’ and ‘Consider the end.’ But one must foresee the end in order to resist, or even see, the beginnings. One must foresee the end clearly and certainly and how is this to be done, by ordinary men or even by extraordinary men? Things might have. And everyone counts on that might.

"Your ‘little men,’ your Nazi friends, were not against National Socialism in principle. Men like me, who were, are the greater offenders, not because we knew better (that would be too much to say) but because we sensed better. Pastor Niemöller spoke for the thousands and thousands of men like me when he spoke (too modestly of himself) and said that, when the Nazis attacked the Communists, he was a little uneasy, but, after all, he was not a Communist, and so he did nothing; and then they attacked the Socialists, and he was a little uneasier, but, still, he was not a Socialist, and he did nothing; and then the schools, the press, the Jews, and so on, and he was always uneasier, but still he did nothing. And then they attacked the Church, and he was a Churchman, and he did something—but then it was too late."

"Yes," I said.

"You see," my colleague went on, "one doesn’t see exactly where or how to move. Believe me, this is true. Each act, each occasion, is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join with you in resisting somehow. You don’t want to act, or even talk, alone; you don’t want to ‘go out of your way to make trouble.’ Why not?—Well, you are not in the habit of doing it. And it is not just fear, fear of standing alone, that restrains you; it is also genuine uncertainty.

"Uncertainty is a very important factor, and, instead of decreasing as time goes on, it grows. Outside, in the streets, in the general community, ‘everyone’ is happy. One hears no protest, and certainly sees none. You know, in France or Italy there would be slogans against the government painted on walls and fences; in Germany, outside the great cities, perhaps, there is not even this. In the university community, in your own community, you speak privately to your colleagues, some of whom certainly feel as you do; but what do they say? They say, ‘It’s not so bad’ or ‘You’re seeing things’ or ‘You’re an alarmist.’

"And you are an alarmist. You are saying that this must lead to this, and you can’t prove it. These are the beginnings, yes; but how do you know for sure when you don’t know the end, and how do you know, or even surmise, the end? On the one hand, your enemies, the law, the regime, the Party, intimidate you. On the other, your colleagues pooh-pooh you as pessimistic or even neurotic. You are left with your close friends, who are, naturally, people who have always thought as you have.

"But your friends are fewer now. Some have drifted off somewhere or submerged themselves in their work. You no longer see as many as you did at meetings or gatherings. Informal groups become smaller; attendance drops off in little organizations, and the organizations themselves wither. Now, in small gatherings of your oldest friends, you feel that you are talking to yourselves, that you are isolated from the reality of things. This weakens your confidence still further and serves as a further deterrent to—to what? It is clearer all the time that, if you are going to do anything, you must make an occasion to do it, and then you are obviously a troublemaker. So you wait, and you wait.

"But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes. That’s the difficulty. If the last and worst act of the whole regime had come immediately after the first and smallest, thousands, yes, millions would have been sufficiently shocked—if, let us say, the gassing of the Jews in ’43 had come immediately after the ‘German Firm’ stickers on the windows of non-Jewish shops in ’33. But of course this isn’t the way it happens. In between come all the hundreds of little steps, some of them imperceptible, each of them preparing you not to be shocked by the next. Step C is not so much worse than Step B, and, if you did not make a stand at Step B, why should you at Step C? And so on to Step D.

"And one day, too late, your principles, if you were ever sensible of them, all rush in upon you. The burden of self-deception has grown too heavy, and some minor incident, in my case my little boy, hardly more than a baby, saying ‘Jewish swine,’ collapses it all at once, and you see that everything, everything, has changed and changed completely under your nose. The world you live in—your nation, your people—is not the world you were born in at all. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed. Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves; when everyone is transformed, no one is transformed. Now you live in a system which rules without responsibility even to God. The system itself could not have intended this in the beginning, but in order to sustain itself it was compelled to go all the way.

"You have gone almost all the way yourself. Life is a continuing process, a flow, not a succession of acts and events at all. It has flowed to a new level, carrying you with it, without any effort on your part. On this new level you live, you have been living more comfortably every day, with new morals, new principles. You have accepted things you would not have accepted five years ago, a year ago, things that your father, even in Germany, could not have imagined.

"Suddenly it all comes down, all at once. You see what you are, what you have done, or, more accurately, what you haven’t done (for that was all that was required of most of us: that we do nothing). You remember those early meetings of your department in the university when, if one had stood, others would have stood, perhaps, but no one stood. A small matter, a matter of hiring this man or that, and you hired this one rather than that. You remember everything now, and your heart breaks. Too late. You are compromised beyond repair.

"What then? You must then shoot yourself. A few did. Or ‘adjust’ your principles. Many tried, and some, I suppose, succeeded; not I, however. Or learn to live the rest of your life with your shame. This last is the nearest there is, under the circumstances, to heroism: shame. Many Germans became this poor kind of hero, many more, I think, than the world knows or cares to know."

I said nothing. I thought of nothing to say.

"I can tell you," my colleague went on, "of a man in Leipzig, a judge. He was not a Nazi, except nominally, but he certainly wasn’t an anti-Nazi. He was just—a judge. In ’42 or ’43, early ’43, I think it was, a Jew was tried before him in a case involving, but only incidentally, relations with an ‘Aryan’ woman. This was ‘race injury,’ something the Party was especially anxious to punish. In the case at bar, however, the judge had the power to convict the man of a ‘nonracial’ offense and send him to an ordinary prison for a very long term, thus saving him from Party ‘processing’ which would have meant concentration camp or, more probably, deportation and death. But the man was innocent of the ‘nonracial’ charge, in the judge’s opinion, and so, as an honorable judge, he acquitted him. Of course, the Party seized the Jew as soon as he left the courtroom."

"And the judge?"

"Yes, the judge. He could not get the case off his conscience—a case, mind you, in which he had acquitted an innocent man. He thought that he should have convicted him and saved him from the Party, but how could he have convicted an innocent man? The thing preyed on him more and more, and he had to talk about it, first to his family, then to his friends, and then to acquaintances. (That’s how I heard about it.) After the ’44 Putsch they arrested him. After that, I don’t know."

I said nothing.

"Once the war began," my colleague continued, "resistance, protest, criticism, complaint, all carried with them a multiplied likelihood of the greatest punishment. Mere lack of enthusiasm, or failure to show it in public, was ‘defeatism.’ You assumed that there were lists of those who would be ‘dealt with’ later, after the victory. Goebbels was very clever here, too. He continually promised a ‘victory orgy’ to ‘take care of’ those who thought that their ‘treasonable attitude’ had escaped notice. And he meant it; that was not just propaganda. And that was enough to put an end to all uncertainty.

"Once the war began, the government could do anything ‘necessary’ to win it; so it was with the ‘final solution of the Jewish problem,’ which the Nazis always talked about but never dared undertake, not even the Nazis, until war and its ‘necessities’ gave them the knowledge that they could get away with it. The people abroad who thought that war against Hitler would help the Jews were wrong. And the people in Germany who, once the war had begun, still thought of complaining, protesting, resisting, were betting on Germany’s losing the war. It was a long bet. Not many made it."
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« Reply #38 on: January 11, 2013, 12:48:34 PM »

Just When You Thought Soviet Propaganda Was Dead .

For many years, the American left has combed the past for history lessons that will aid their effort to move the United States toward European-style social democracy, if not a full-fledged socialist utopia. The most successful leftist intellectual in that enterprise was the late Howard Zinn, whose books—such as "A People's History of the United States," first published in 1980—have sold millions of copies and are still used by high schools and colleges nationwide. Zinn believed that by emphasizing the struggles of working people, women and people of color against their supposed oppressors, his work could mobilize a new generation to carry on the fight of yesterday's radical heroes.

That search for a usable past has been taken up in a new form by filmmaker Oliver Stone and historian Peter Kuznick in both their Showtime television series, "Oliver Stone's Untold History of the United States," and in the accompanying book of the same name. Mr. Kuznick, who wrote the volume and whose outlook frames the series, is frank about his mission.

He once wrote in a book of essays that he sees his role as a professor to be that of "creating a bridge between leftist and more moderate students," so that he can "try to radicalize some of the more moderate and liberal students" who accept our political system instead of working for real radical change. Those who support "liberal capitalism," he wrote, are "blind to the lessons of history."

In discussing the TV series, Mr. Stone says in the first episode that he wants to counter the view that "we were the good guys" by telling the story of America "in a way that it has never been told before." The series' treatment of the Vietnam War, for instance, is intended, according to Mr. Kuznick, to show that the U.S. had moved so far "to the dark side" that "we were the wrong side."

For these and other revelations, Messrs. Stone and Kuznick have found respectful listeners on many TV news and talk shows, from "CBS This Morning," to CNN and even on Mike Huckabee's radio program. The authors assert that no one can contest their facts about the true story that has been hidden from Americans for decades. Their spiel routinely goes unquestioned, let alone contested, by their media hosts.

The reality is that the book and TV series are little more than a synthesis of discredited leftist Cold War "revisionist" history. In many instances they parrot Soviet and communist propaganda of the 1940s and '50s, and use the same arguments and the same citations as the ones that were first crafted by the KGB for agitprop.

One of the authors' main goals is to tell Americans that the Cold War with the Soviet Union was unnecessary and avoidable: The Cold War happened only because President Roosevelt dropped the exemplary Vice President Henry A. Wallace off the ticket at the 1944 Democratic convention and replaced him with the villain of their series, Harry S. Truman.

If Wallace had assumed the presidency when FDR died, they explain, he would have recognized Stalin's just demands to have friendly nations—such as Poland—on Russia's borders, thereby carrying on FDR's wartime policy of cooperation with the Soviet Union. Instead, the authors argue, within two weeks of taking office, Truman needlessly angered the Russians, rejected attempts by Stalin to carry on an amicable relationship with America, and proceeded on a warlike path that turned the U.S. into an imperialist and dangerous national-security state.

In making the case for Wallace as a hero, Messrs. Stone and Kuznick leave out a great deal of what we know about the man who was vice president until 1945 and then, in FDR's last term, the secretary of commerce.

The authors may approve of Wallace's belief, as he articulated in a speech in the 1940s, that "fascist interests motivated largely by anti-Russian bias" were trying to "get control of our government." But the series and book do not mention what intercepted Soviet messages and records—most famously the Venona coded intercepts, and the KGB archive papers brought to the West by KGB official Alexander Vassiliev as the Soviet Union crumbled—make clear: Had Wallace become president, a number of the men to whom he intended to give cabinet and other top positions were Soviet spies or agents.

After Wallace gave a speech in September 1946 opposing Truman's tough policy toward the Soviets, the president promptly fired him. From then on, Wallace openly tried to stop the White House from blocking Stalin's expansionist policies in Eastern Europe. Wallace opposed the creation of NATO, advocated abandoning Berlin at the time of the Soviet blockade in 1948, denounced the Marshall Plan as "the martial plan," and justified the 1948 Communist coup in Czechoslovakia as a measure needed to thwart a fascist takeover.

What the "Untold History" never mentions is that in October 1945, while he was still in the cabinet, Wallace met covertly in Washington with Anatoly Gorsky, the station chief of the NKGB (a forerunner of the KGB). KGB files record that Wallace told Gorsky that he wanted the atomic-bomb secret shared with the Soviets, that Truman was being influenced by an "anti-Soviet group" that wanted the Anglo-Saxon bloc to be dominant, and that the Soviets could help Wallace's "smaller group significantly."

A member of the U.S. cabinet asking the Soviets to intervene to help his side win the internal political battle within the administration was more than indiscreet. It was the action of a willing tool of Moscow.

At least Wallace eventually admitted that he had been duped. In 1952, he publicly apologized to Americans in the Sept. 7 issue of This Week magazine, in an article titled "Where I Was Wrong." You won't hear about this in the "Untold History," but Wallace wrote that "before 1949 I thought Russia really wanted and needed peace. After 1949 I became more and more disgusted with the Soviet methods and finally became convinced that the Politburo wanted the Cold War continued even at the peril of accidentally provoking a hot war."

The Wallace article continued: "As I look back over the past 10 years I now feel that my greatest mistake was in not denouncing the Communist takeover of Czechoslovakia in February of 1948." His analysis, he said, "failed to take into account the ruthless nature of Russian-trained Communists whose sole objective was to make Czechoslovakia subservient to Moscow."

It took time and perhaps bitter experience, but Henry Wallace finally accepted the facts before him—that Soviet policy was not the benign and peacemaking force he once believed it to be. Would that Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick were so open to the truth.

Mr. Radosh is a columnist for PJ Media and an adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute. He is the co-author of "Spain Betrayed: The Soviet Union in the Spanish Civil War" (Yale University Press, 2001).
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« Reply #39 on: January 18, 2013, 07:43:43 PM »

John Gray, professor emeritus at the London School of Economics, writing in the Times Literary Supplement, Jan. 2:

One of the features that distinguished Bolshevism from Tsarism was the insistence of Lenin and his followers on the need for a complete overhaul of society. Old-fashioned despots may modernize in piecemeal fashion if doing so seems necessary to maintain their power, but they do not aim at remaking society on a new model, still less at fashioning a new type of humanity. Communist regimes engaged in mass killing in order to achieve these transformations, and paradoxically it is this essentially totalitarian ambition that has appealed to liberals. Here as elsewhere, the commonplace distinction between utopianism and meliorism is less than fundamental. In its predominant forms, liberalism has been in recent times a version of the religion of humanity, and with rare exceptions— [Bertrand] Russell is one of the few that come to mind—liberals have seen the Communist experiment as a hyperbolic expression of their own project of improvement; if the experiment failed, its casualties were incurred for the sake of a progressive cause. To think otherwise—to admit the possibility that the millions who were judged to be less than fully human suffered and died for nothing—would be to question the idea that history is a story of continuing human advance, which for liberals today is an article of faith. That is why, despite all evidence to the contrary, so many of them continue to deny Communism's clear affinities with Fascism. Blindness to the true nature of Communism is an inability to accept that radical evil can come from the pursuit of progress.
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« Reply #40 on: April 11, 2013, 08:54:52 AM »

With Margaret Thatcher's death, the West lost its last great leader in the four-decade-long war between communism and freedom called the Cold War. Ronald Reagan died in 2004, and John Paul II, the former Karol Wojtyla of Poland, a year later. Now Thatcher.

Mrs. Thatcher's passing requires a visit to the Cold War.

It is a safe bet that in schools here and in Europe the Cold War's history is covered in a half-day if at all. The memory hole is bottomless. This week alone, memory-erasing authorities in Berlin swept aside protesters to dismantle one of the last remaining parts of the Berlin Wall to make way for apartment buildings. How odd to live in luxury over a place where fellow Berliners were gunned down and left to bleed trying to flee communism.

Still, the Cold War was a big deal, especially if when World War II stopped you happened to live in the wrong place. From the late 1940s onward, these unlucky people found themselves living permanently (you weren't allowed to leave) in what were called "satellites" of the Soviet Union—Poland, East Germany, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Bulgaria and Albania.

The peoples of the Baltic states already had been handed over to Joseph Stalin, the mass murderer who ran Russia from 1924 to 1953. The unique identities of these nations eventually disappeared into a political discourse that called them the Eastern Bloc, Iron Curtain countries and, especially, the Warsaw Pact.

The only things of significance the communist system produced were guns, tanks and nuclear-armed ballistic missiles. And the millions of men press-ganged into their armies.

Across the 1950s, '60s and '70s, the free West and the captive East lived in stalemate, with newspaper reports discussing and describing the Cold War in terms of U.S. and Soviet intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), mutually assured destruction (MAD), and plans to resist a Warsaw Pact invasion of Europe through the Fulda Gap in Germany. In time, much of the sophisticated West's attitude toward the Cold War was reflected in the moral lassitude of John le Carré's novels.

With the arrival of Reagan, Thatcher and John Paul, that changed.

All came to power about the same time—Thatcher and John Paul in 1979 and Reagan after the next year's U.S. presidential election. The three of them brought something new to the idea of leadership in the West then: They would not accept the status quo. Ten years later, the Cold War—a standoff of beliefs backed by missiles—was over.

When the Berlin Wall's checkpoints opened at 10:45 p.m., Nov. 9, 1989, and joyous Berliners began smashing the wall with hammers, picks and even ballpoint pens, many who had fought in the Cold War's trenches admitted they never expected to see that day. The Cold War seemed permanent.

But not to these three.

Reagan was the architect and armorer of the final battle. John Paul was its moral fiber. And Thatcher was . . . well, let's say that Maggie Thatcher was simply fiber—resilient, unbreakable, necessary. There is another good word for what Thatcher was: ally.

Allies are needed when there is opposition. The opposition to Reagan, Thatcher and John Paul was intense—in Moscow certainly but, incredible in retrospect, more so in the West. Intense doesn't begin to describe the battles in the U.S. and the capitals of Western Europe to thwart Reagan and Thatcher's foreign policy.

Why? Sleeping dogs aside, it mainly was because Ronald Reagan explicitly shifted U.S. foreign policy from a defensive accommodation with the Soviets to offensive resistance everywhere to what Reagan unapologetically called "the evil empire." That was the Reagan Doctrine, and Thatcher embraced it.

For fighting to finish this war, they received—and resisted—a decade of vilification, animosity and moral contempt. They were fought in Congress, Parliament, in mass marches, in the press, the arts and the universities.

The mockery depicted in the photo nearby doesn't come close to recreating the bitterness of those days. Beneath every subject in a keyword listing of the period lies a pitched battle: Pershing II, the zero option, nuclear freeze, Star Wars, "voodoo arms control," the Greenham Common peace women, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Afghanistan, Angola, Grenada. Better stop there, or the sleeping dogs will start to growl.

It is not possible to revisit Thatcher's Cold War legacy without touching the troubled present.

President Obama has said that his foreign policy should be seen as a turning away from George W. Bush's foreign policy. That is incomplete. It is about reversing Reagan and Thatcher, once and for all.

A case study: North Korea has moved into launch position a ballistic missile with a range of 1,900 to 2,500 miles. With the technology available today, Reagan or Thatcher would surely shoot down that missile on launch, to deter Kim Jong Eun. Barack Obama will not, leaving the reasons why to his spokespersons. These are two worldviews at odds over pretty much everything, from the U.S. role in the world to human nature.

It is ironic but no exaggeration to say that Ronald Reagan, Maggie Thatcher and Karol Wojtyla were dissenters. Because of their dissent from the orthodoxies and conventional wisdom of their times, the world's people and its leaders are freer today to do as they please, for better or worse.

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« Reply #41 on: May 25, 2013, 05:04:42 PM »

Current Pulitzer Prize winner Brret Stephens:
Reading Hayek in Beijing    WSJ WEEKEND INTERVIEW   May 24, 2013
A chronicler of Mao's depredations finds much to worry about in modern China.


In the spring of 1959, Yang Jisheng, then an 18-year-old scholarship student at a boarding school in China's Hubei Province, got an unexpected visit from a childhood friend. "Your father is starving to death!" the friend told him. "Hurry back, and take some rice if you can."

Granted leave from his school, Mr. Yang rushed to his family farm. "The elm tree in front of our house had been reduced to a barkless trunk," he recalled, "and even its roots had been dug up." Entering his home, he found his father "half-reclined on his bed, his eyes sunken and lifeless, his face gaunt, the skin creased and flaccid . . . I was shocked with the realization that the term skin and bones referred to something so horrible and cruel."

Mr. Yang's father would die within three days. Yet it would take years before Mr. Yang learned that what happened to his father was not an isolated incident. He was one of the 36 million Chinese who succumbed to famine between 1958 and 1962.

It would take years more for him to realize that the source of all the suffering was not nature: There were no major droughts or floods in China in the famine years. Rather, the cause was man, and one man in particular: Mao Zedong, the Great Helmsman, whose visage still stares down on Beijing's Tiananmen Square from atop the gates of the Forbidden City.

Mr. Yang went on to make his career, first as a journalist and senior editor with the Xinhua News Agency, then as a historian whose unflinching scholarship has brought him into increasing conflict with the Communist Party—of which he nonetheless remains a member. Now 72 and a resident of Beijing, he's in New York this month to receive the Manhattan Institute's Hayek Prize for "Tombstone," his painstakingly researched, definitive history of the famine. On a visit to the Journal's headquarters, his affinity for the prize's namesake becomes clear.

"This book had a huge impact on me," he says, holding up his dog-eared Chinese translation of Friedrich Hayek's "The Road to Serfdom." Hayek's book, he explains, was originally translated into Chinese in 1962 as "an 'internal reference' for top leaders," meaning it was forbidden fruit to everyone else. Only in 1997 was a redacted translation made publicly available, complete with an editor's preface denouncing Hayek as "not in line with the facts," and "conceptually mixed up."

Mr. Yang quickly saw that in Hayek's warnings about the dangers of economic centralization lay both the ultimate explanation for the tragedies of his youth—and the predicaments of China's present. "In a country where the sole employer is the state," Hayek had observed, "opposition means death by slow starvation."

So it was in 1958 as Mao initiated his Great Leap Forward, demanding huge increases in grain and steel production. Peasants were forced to work intolerable hours to meet impossible grain quotas, often employing disastrous agricultural methods inspired by the quack Soviet agronomist Trofim Lysenko. The grain that was produced was shipped to the cities, and even exported abroad, with no allowances made to feed the peasants adequately. Starving peasants were prevented from fleeing their districts to find food. Cannibalism, including parents eating their own children, became commonplace.

"Mao's powers expanded from the people's minds to their stomachs," Mr. Yang says. "Whatever the Chinese people's brains were thinking and what their stomachs were receiving were all under the control of Mao. . . . His powers extended to every inch of the field, and every factory, every workroom of a factory, every family in China."

All the while, sympathetic Western journalists—America's Edgar Snow and Britain's Felix Greene in particular—were invited on carefully orchestrated tours so they could "refute" rumors of mass starvation. To this day, few people realize that Mao's forced famine was the single greatest atrocity of the 20th century, exceeding by orders of magnitude the Rwandan genocide, the Cambodian Killing Fields and the Holocaust.

The power of Mr. Yang's book lies in its hauntingly precise descriptions of the cruelty of party officials, the suffering of the peasants, the pervasive dread of being called "a right deviationist" for telling the truth that quotas weren't being met and that millions were being starved to death, and the toadyism of Mao lieutenants.

Yet the book is more than a history of a uniquely cruel regime at a receding moment in time. It is also a warning of what lies at the end of the road for nations that substitute individualism with any form of collectivism, no matter what the motives. Which brings Mr. Yang to the present day.

"China's economy is not what [Party leaders] claim as the 'socialist-market economy,' " he says. "It's a 'power-market' economy."

What does that mean?

"It means the market is controlled by the power. . . . For example, the land: Any permit to enter any sector, to do any business has to be approved by the government. Even local government, down to the county level. So every county operates like an enterprise, a company. The party secretary of the county is the CEO, the president."

Put another way, the conventional notion that the modern Chinese system combines political authoritarianism with economic liberalism is mistaken: A more accurate description of the recipe is dictatorship and cronyism, with the results showing up in rampant corruption, environmental degradation and wide inequalities between the politically well-connected and everyone else. "There are two major forms of hatred" in China today, Mr. Yang explains. "Hatred toward the rich; hatred toward the powerful, the officials." As often as not they are one and the same.

Yet isn't China a vastly freer place than it was in the days of Mr. Yang's youth? He allows that the party's top priority in the post-Mao era has been to improve the lot of the peasantry, "to deal with how to fill the stomach."

He also acknowledges that there's more intellectual freedom. "I would have been executed if I had this book published 40 years ago," he notes. "I would have been imprisoned if this book was out 30 years ago. Now the result is that I'm not allowed to get any articles published in the mainstream media." The Chinese-language version of "Tombstone" was published in Hong Kong but is banned on the mainland.

There is, of course, a rational reason why the regime tolerates Mr. Yang. To survive, the regime needs to censor vast amounts of information—what Mr. Yang calls "the ruling technique" of Chinese leaders across the centuries. Yet censorship isn't enough: It also needs a certain number of people who understand the full truth about the Maoist system so that the party will never repeat its mistakes, even as it keeps the cult of Mao alive in order to preserve its political legitimacy. That's especially true today as China is being swept by a wave of Maoist nostalgia among people who, Mr. Yang says, "abstract Mao as this symbol of social justice," and then use that abstraction to criticize the current regime.

"Ten million workers get laid off in the state-owned enterprise reforms," he explains. "So many people are dissatisfied with the reforms. Then they become nostalgic and think the Mao era was much better. Because they never experienced the Mao era!" One of the leaders of that revival, incidentally, was Bo Xilai, the powerful former Chongqing party chief, brought down in a murder scandal last year.

But there's a more sinister reason why Mr. Yang is tolerated. Put simply, the regime needs some people to have a degree of intellectual freedom, in order to more perfectly maintain its dictatorship over everyone else.

"Once I gave a lecture to leaders at a government bureau," Mr. Yang recalls. "I told them it's a dangerous job, you guys, being officials, because you have too much power. I said you guys have to be careful because those who want approval from you to get certain land and projects, who bribe you, these are like bullets, ammunition, coated in sugar, to fire at you. So today you may be a top official, tomorrow you may be a prisoner."

How did the officials react to that one?

"They said, 'Professor Yang, what you said, we should pay attention.' "

So they should. As Hayek wrote in his famous essay on "The Use of Knowledge in a Society," the fundamental problem of any planned system is that "knowledge of circumstances of which we must make use never exists in concentrated or integrated form but solely as the dispersed bits of incomplete and frequently contradictory knowledge which all the separate individuals possess."

The Great Leap Forward was an extreme example of what happens when a coercive state, operating on the conceit of perfect knowledge, attempts to achieve some end. Even today the regime seems to think it's possible to know everything—one reason they devote so many resources to monitoring domestic websites and hacking into the servers of Western companies. But the problem of incomplete knowledge can't be solved in an authoritarian system that refuses to cede power to the separate people who possess that knowledge.

"For the last 20 years, the Chinese government has been saying they have to change the growth mode of the economy," Mr. Yang notes. "So they've been saying, rather than just merely expanding the economy they should do internal changes, meaning more value-added services and high tech. They've been shouting such slogans for 20 years, and not many results. Why haven't we seen many changes? Because it's the problem that lies in the very system, because it's a power-market economy. . . . If the politics isn't changed, the growth mode cannot be changed."

That suggests China will never become a mature power until it becomes a democratic one. As to whether that will happen anytime soon, Mr. Yang seems doubtful: The one opinion widely shared by rulers and ruled alike in China is that without the Communist Party's leadership, "China will be thrown into chaos."

Still, Mr. Yang hardly seems to have given up hope that he can play a role in raising his country's prospects. In particular, he's keen to reclaim two ideas at risk of being lost in today's China.

The first is the meaning of rights. A saying attributed to the philosopher Lao Tzu, he says, has it that a ruler should fill the people's stomachs and empty their heads. The gambit of China's current rulers is that they can stay in power forever by applying that maxim. Mr. Yang hopes they're wrong.

"People have more needs than just eating!" he insists. "In China, human rights means the right to survive, and I argue with these people. This is not human rights, it's animal rights. People have all sorts of needs. Spiritual needs, the need to be free, the freedoms."

The second is the obligation of memory. China today is a country galloping into a century many people believe it will define, one way or the other. Yet the past, Mr. Yang insists, also has its claims.

"If a people cannot face their history, these people won't have a future. That was one of the purposes for me to write this book. I wrote a lot of hard facts, tragedies. I wanted people to learn a lesson, so we can be far away from the darkness, far away from tragedies, and won't repeat them."

Hayek would have understood both points well.
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« Reply #42 on: August 25, 2013, 05:07:30 PM »

I haven't read this yet, and consider the source  rolleyes cheesy but, despite the paucity of contributions so far, I regard this as one of our most important threads.  The success of the progressives in dumping knowledge of this down the memory hole contributes powerfully to the manipulation of our political culture.

NY Times August 18, 2011
20 Years After Soviet Fall, Some Look Back Longingly

MOSCOW ‹ Gennady Veretelny was shot and wounded when he stepped forward
unarmed 20 years ago to help stop a column of armored vehicles in central
Moscow, one of the few casualties of the last, failed attempt to preserve
the Soviet Union. 

It was a moment when Russians, largely cowed and passive subjects of Soviet
rule for 74 years, massed in the streets to support the future president,
Boris N. Yeltsin
n/index.html?inline=nyt-per> , demanding democratic change.

The writer Vasily Aksyonov
sily-aksyonov/379377.html>  captured the enthusiasm of many at the time when
he called the 60-hour standoff ³probably the most glorious nights in the
history of Russian civilization
<> .²

But almost 15 years after the standoff, the man who now rules Russia
ssiaandtheformersovietunion/index.html?inline=nyt-geo> , Prime Minister
Vladimir V. Putin
in/index.html?inline=nyt-per> , called the fall of the Soviet Union the
³greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century
<> .²

Recent opinion polls as the anniversary of the standoff approaches this
Saturday come closer to the view of Mr. Putin than of Mr. Aksyonov. Few
people said they viewed the events of 1991 as a victory for democracy.

³At that time in Russia, behind the Iron Curtain, we had only heard of
democracy,² said Mr. Veretelny, 54, who was at the time supporting himself
as a driver. ³We really believed the magical, beautiful word democracy. But
a lot of things turned out not exactly the way we expected. We began to ask
ourselves what we spilled our blood for.²

In the decade that followed, chaotic social and economic changes as well as
lurching attempts at reform gave democracy a bad name. Many people welcomed
the stability that Mr. Putin brought, even at the cost of some democratic

Mr. Veretelny is just one voice among 140 million Russians, and while his
disillusionment is widely shared, many people appear to accept Mr. Putin¹s
limits on political competition, civil society and the news media. An
election that is set for early next year is unlikely to change the course of
the country.       

Mr. Veretelny was speaking a week before the anniversary at the home of
Lyubov Komar, the mother of a young veteran of the Russian war in
Afghanistan, Dmitry Komar, who was one of three men killed during the final
night of the standoff. Mr. Veretelny was wounded when he tried to retrieve
the body of Mr. Komar, which he said hung on an armored vehicle as it roared
forward and back trying to dislodge a trolley bus that had been moved to
block its path.   

³I saw the guy hanging off the armored car,² he said. ³I put out my hands to
help and I was hit in the shoulder. I thought someone would come take the
body off, but it drove back and forth until the body fell on the asphalt.²

The armored cars and tanks pulled back soon afterward, marking the end of a
coup that had tried to hold back the tide of change. On Dec. 25, President
Mikhail S. Gorbachev stepped down, bringing an end to the Soviet Union.

Since then, Mr. Veretelny has worked as an electrician, a police inspector
and now as a small-business man on the fringes of Russia¹s economy. Until
recently, his wife had a high-paying job as manager of a business, but she
was laid off during the economic downturn. She said the couple lived

Mrs. Komar, who works as a helper at a health club, still builds her life
around the memory of her son. She echoes the view of Mr. Veretelny, saying,
³If my son could have seen where the country was going, he wouldn¹t have
been at the barricades.²

Sitting in her apartment, surrounded by photographs that trace his growth
from a boy to a soldier, she said she had given up on the political process.

³I haven¹t been to vote for 10 years,² she said. ³They¹ll do fine without
me. They choose whoever they want, so why vote?²

Like many Russians, she grew to despise Mr. Yeltsin for what she saw as his
weak leadership, and she is now part of a large majority of Russians
supporting Mr. Putin. But what she would really like, she said, is to turn
back the clock.   

³I felt more comfortable in the U.S.S.R.,² she said. ³You always had a piece
of bread. You always had work. Yes, sure, you can go overseas now, but you
have to have money for that and you have to go into debt. Now, if you don¹t
have money you can¹t do anything.²

A recent poll by the Levada Center, a respected polling agency, found that
20 percent of Russians share her wish for a return of the Soviet Union, a
number that has bobbed up and down between 16 percent and 27 percent over
the past eight years.

Among those in favor of the Soviet Union, not surprisingly, is Mr.
Gorbachev, who had tried to reform and preserve the Soviet Union but was
thwarted by the coup and then by Mr. Yeltsin and the momentum of events.

³Some say over and over that the Soviet Union¹s collapse was inevitable,² he
said at a news conference on Wednesday. ³But I keep saying that the Soviet
Union could have been preserved.²

Addressing journalists, he said: ³You criticize Gorbachev: weak, Jell-O,
more or less in those terms. But what if that Jell-O wasn¹t in that position
at that time, who the hell knows what might have happened to us.²

According to the polling agency, those who wish to return to the Soviet past
are mostly members of the vestiges of the Communist party, elderly people,
and people who live in small towns and villages.

The poll was conducted in person in July with 1,600 adults, and has a margin
of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Other responses suggest that Russians do want democracy, but democracy of a
particular sort, with a powerful central government, something closer to
what the country has today than some, like Mr. Veretelny, had envisioned.
More than half the respondents, 53 percent, said they placed a higher value
on ³order² than on human rights.

³We had so much hope, so much faith, so much inspiration for the future,²
said Mr. Veretelny¹s wife, Svetlana. ³There was such a feeling of freedom
and hope. We were all so happy seeing change ahead.²

But now, according to the polling agency, only 10 percent of respondents
view those days as a victory for democracy. It said the number of people who
called the events a tragedy had grown to 39 percent, from 25 percent at the
anniversary 10 years ago.

³It is what it is,² said Mr. Veretelny, who has slipped from hope into
passivity. ³We just have to figure that this is what we ended up with.²
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« Reply #43 on: October 06, 2013, 10:32:24 AM »
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« Reply #47 on: November 06, 2013, 09:50:38 PM »
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« Reply #48 on: November 24, 2013, 12:49:49 AM »
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