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The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOC) is a non-profit anti-communist organization in the United States, authorized by a unanimous Act of Congress in 1993 for the purpose of "educating Americans about the ideology, history and legacy of communism." The organization was responsible for building the Victims of Communism Memorial in Washington, D.C. It is a member of the European Union's Platform of European Memory and Conscience.


History


In 1991, Senator Steve Symms and Representative Dana Rohrabacher introduced concurring resolutions in the United States Congress urging the construction of "an International Memorial to the Victims of Communism at an appropriate location within the boundaries of the District of Columbia and for the appointment of a commission to oversee the design, construction and all other pertinent details of the memorial." In 1993, Rohrabacher and Senator Jesse Helms sponsored amendments to The FRIENDSHIP Act of 1993 which authorized such construction. The Act was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on December 17, 1993. The Act cited "the deaths of over 100,000,000 victims in an unprecedented imperial holocaust" and resolved that "the sacrifices of these victims should be permanently memorialized so that never again will nations and peoples allow so evil a tyranny to terrorize the world." According to Title IX, Section 905 of Public Law 103–199, an independent organization was to be established to construct, maintain and operate the Victims of Communism Memorial in Washington, D.C., as well as to collect the contributions for the establishment of the memorial and to encourage the participation of all groups suffered under Communist regimes. In 2007, the foundation completed the Victims of Communism Memorial, which was dedicated by President George W. Bush. In 2016, the foundation released a list of 51 prisoners of conscience in Cuba just before President Barack Obama visit and meeting with Raúl Castro. In 2020, the organization released a report calling attention to organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners and Uyghurs in China. In 2016, the ''Dissident'' blog of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation made an effort to compile updated ranges of estimates and concluded that the overall range "spans from 42,870,000 to 161,990,000" killed, with 100 million the most commonly cited figure. According to anthropologist Kristen Ghodsee and professor Scott Sehon, the 100 million estimate favored by the organization is dubious, they may be lower, as their source for this is the controversial introduction to the ''The Black Book of Communism'' by Stéphane Courtois. Ghodsee and Sehon also write that "quibbling about numbers is unseemly. What matters is that many, many people were killed by communist regimes." According to Ghodsee and Sehon, the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation is a conservative anti-communist organization which seeks to equate communism with murder, such as by erecting billboards in Times Square which declare "100 years, 100 million killed" and "Communism kills".Ghodsee, Kristen R.; Sehon, Scott; Dresser, Sam, ed. (22 March 2018)
"The merits of taking an anti-anti-communism stance"
. ''Aeon''. Retrieved 11 February 2020.
Ghodsee posits that the foundation, along with counterpart conservative organizations in Eastern Europe, seeks to institutionalize the "Victims of Communism" narrative as a double genocide theory, or the moral equivalence between the Nazi Holocaust (race murder) and those killed by Communist regimes (class murder).Ghodsee, Kristen (Fall 2014)
"A Tale of 'Two Totalitarianisms': The Crisis of Capitalism and the Historical Memory of Communism"
. ''History of the Present: A Journal of Critical History''. 4 (2): 116-117,136. . .
In her view these are suspect efforts to distract from the global financial crisis and the failures of neoliberalism. In April 2020, the organization announced they would be adding the global victims of the COVID-19 pandemic to their death toll of Communism, blaming the Chinese government for the outbreak and every death caused by it.


Programs





Victims of Communism Memorial


The memorial was dedicated on June 12, 2007, the 20th anniversary of President Ronald Reagan's "Tear down this wall" speech in Berlin. The unveiling of the statue in Washington DC earned international press attention. The land was a gift of the US Parks Service, and the remaining cost, over $1 million, was raised from private sources. Sculpted by Thomas Marsh, it is a 10-foot bronze replica of the Papier-mâché Goddess of Democracy statue made by student democracy protesters leading up to the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989.


Museum


The foundation aims to build a museum in Washington, D.C. The foundation is working on a proposed budget for a museum near the National Mall, and has received a $1 million grant toward the museum from the government of Hungary. Plans for the museum include exhibit space, an auditorium, archives, and resident scholars.


Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom


The Foundation annually presents its Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom at an event which honors opponents of communism and has been used to raise funds for the construction of the memorial. Past recipients include Myroslav Marynovych, Chen Guangcheng, Tom Lantos, Pope John Paul II, Vaclav Havel, Yang Jianli, Fr. Nguyen Van Ly, Yelena Bonner, William F. Buckley Jr., Richard Pipes, Guillermo Fariñas, Lane Kirkland, Armando Valladares, János Horváth, Lech Wałęsa, Anna Walentynowicz, National Endowment for Democracy, and Henry M. Jackson.


Projects


In 2015, the foundation released a biopic video series called Witness Project, featuring interviews with witnesses of communism. Other projects include national seminars for high-school teachers and for college campuses.


Lobbying


The foundation opposed the Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity Clarification Act on the grounds that it would protect unlawfully acquired artwork held by Russian museums.


People


VOC's chairman is Edwin J. Feulner, founder and former president of the American conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation. Its chairman emeritus and co-founder is scholar Lee Edwards, a founding member of Young Americans for Freedom and distinguished fellow at the American conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation. Lev Dobriansky previously served as chairman emeritus. The national advisory council includes Dennis DeConcini, Paul Hollander, John K. Singlaub, John Earl Haynes, and George Weigel. Former or deceased members include Robert Conquest, Richard Pipes, Rudolph Rummel, and Jack Kemp. The international advisory council includes Sali Berisha, Vladimir Bukovsky, Emil Constantinescu, Mart Laar, Vytautas Landsbergis, Guntis Ulmanis, Armando Valladares, and Lech Walesa. Former members include Yelena Bonner, Brian Crozier, Árpád Göncz, and Václav Havel. Jay K. Katzen was the Foundation's president from June 2003 until his death in April 2020. As of January 2021, VOC launched a search for a new president and CEO.


See also


* Memorial (society) * Museum of Communism, Czech Republic * Museum of Communism, Warsaw * Virtual Museum of Soviet Repression in Belarus


References





Further reading


*


External links


* {{DEFAULTSORT:Victims Of Communism Memorial Foundation Category:1994 establishments in Washington, D.C. Category:Anti-communist organizations in the United States Category:Civic and political organizations of the United States Category:Commemoration of communist crimes Category:Educational foundations in the United States Category:Foundations based in Washington, D.C. Category:Organizations established in 1994