送交者: 吴礼 于 2005-5-19, 09:38:47:

回答: Is politics in command in the US nowadays? 由 Europeanese 于 2005-5-19, 07:47:05:


May 15, 2005
1945's Legacy: A Terror Defeated, Another Arrives
THE Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Aleksandr Yakovenko, had an interesting suggestion the other day. "The job of historians is to tell the truth," he ventured. If only it were that simple.

Mr. Yakovenko made this cute observation as he waded into the historical minefield that President Bush was also navigating last week. At the core of the explosive issues confronted by the president in the Baltic states and Moscow lies this vexed question: Can a meaningful distinction be made, in moral terms, between Communist totalitarian terror and Nazism?

Vaira Vike-Freiberga, the president of Latvia, gave her own answer in a statement before Mr. Bush's arrival in her country. The defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945 was no liberation for the Baltic states, she suggested, because "it meant slavery, it meant occupation, it meant subjugation and it meant Stalinist terror."

Unlike the leaders of Lithuania and Estonia, who snubbed the event, Ms. Vike-Freiberga attended last Monday's ceremonies in Red Square commemorating the 60th anniversary of the defeat of the Nazis. The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, surprised nobody by choosing to avoid any expression of contrition for postwar Soviet rule of the Baltic states. The Latvian president, commenting that a Russian apology "would have been nice," called the proceedings "surreal."

So it goes. History is indeed making a surreal comeback - in Beijing and Seoul (where Japan is the target), and in Riga and Moscow. It is reasonable to ask why.

The answer is that unraveling the tangled legacy of the cold war is time-consuming. That struggle had its imperatives, dictated by the ideological confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union. The manipulation of memory and truth created a web of obfuscation stretching from Santiago to Stalingrad.

For 44 years, history on the Soviet side of the Iron Curtain bore no relation to "truth"; it was an exercise in glorifying Communism. In the West, truth could also be a casualty. The 15 years since the Berlin Wall fell have gone some way toward casting light on cold war shadows, but have not dispelled them.

The disputes of the past two weeks illustrate the lingering difficulties. Russia, outraged that the result of its Great Patriotic War, fought at a terrible cost, could be viewed as "slavery and subjugation" by its neighbors, asked whether those neighbors would have been around at all if the Red Army had not helped defeat Hitler. "When people today discuss whether we occupied anybody's country or not, I want to ask them: what would have happened to you had we not broken the back of fascism?" the Russian defense minister, Sergei Ivanov, declared. "Would your people be among the living now?"

Fair question - but not one that removes Moscow's responsibility for mass deportations from the Baltic states after 1945. Mr. Putin also weighed in, suggesting that the indignation from Riga to Vilnius was aimed in part at disguising a history of collaboration with the Nazis.

Behind this historical poker - I'll see your "terror" and raise you a "collaboration" - lies the fact that years of debate have not resolved how the terrible twins of the 20th century, Communism and Nazism, should be viewed on a scale of evil.

Perhaps it does not matter: the tens of millions of victims of the two ideologies will not return and the European collective suicide that handed America the world cannot be undone. Perhaps, also, any view depends on geography: from the standpoint of the Baltic states or Ukraine, the scourge of Communism is much more palpable than it is on the Left Bank of the Seine.

Still, something is disturbing about the Russian stonewalling since Mr. Bush suggested this month that while 1945 brought liberation to Western Europe, it brought a "painful history" to other parts of the continent.

After all, there can now be little debate that the exercise of Communism, whatever the idealism of its origins, killed upward of 80 million people in the Soviet Union, China, Cambodia, Eastern Europe, North Korea and Vietnam.

Nor can there be any doubt that terror, concentration camps and wholesale liquidations in the name of class struggle (against "kulaks" or "reactionaries") formed an intrinsic part of the system brought to an apogee of terror by Stalin.

Indeed, in terms of sheer numbers, Communism's claim to have been more murderous than Nazism is persuasive: it lasted longer and its reach was greater.

But because its crimes were more scattered and less visible to the West, because Communism exercised such an enduring fascination on intellectuals, and because it was indeed the Red Army that helped crush the Third Reich, the terror of which Ms. Vike-Freiberga spoke has always appeared less vivid and less uniform in Paris or London or New York than Hitler's genocide.

It is also true that the killing from Ukraine to China in the name of class struggle never became Hitler's industrialized mass murder and did not aim at the physical elimination of a whole people - an idea and method that have held the Western imagination with a particular force. The aim of the Nazis was extermination of the Jews, whereas Stalin's liquidations were the byproduct rather than the core of his ideology.

These distinctions are real. But it remains striking that Nazism was judged at Nuremberg, whereas the crimes of Communism have never come before an international tribunal. The resulting gray areas provide space for Russia to dig in, proclaim its great achievements, and dismiss the pain its victory inflicted.

The international community did agree four years ago to hold one tribunal that would address a Communist crime: the 1.5 million Cambodians sacrificed to the social engineering of Pol Pot. But this killing was part of the dirty business of the cold war, implicating many actors, and so the will has never been found to hold the trial.

Even now, as the past week shows, the dirty laundry of Communism has not yet been hung out in the sun. The search for truth remains a work in progress.

Roger Cohen, who writes the Globalist column for The International Herald Tribune, is author of"Soldiers and Slaves: American P.O.W.'s Trapped by the Nazis' Final Gamble" (Knopf).



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