Friday, September 1, 2017

Memento Gulag !

Bertil Haggman

One of the most important conferences in later years on the question of the Soviet camp system was held in Berlin. It was a cooperation between the German Konrad-Adenauer Stiftung, the Italian Cultural Institute and the museum in Berlin-Schoenhausen in memory of the East German secret police Stasi’s victims as well as Comitatus pro Liberatibus. The papers from the conference in Berlin have now been published as a book (Memento Gulag – Zum Gedenken an die Opfer totalitärer Regime Hrsg. Renato Cristin, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, 108 pages, 2006). The memory of communist crimes is well preserved in for example Riga, Latvia, and Budapest, Hungary. They have central museums housing information on tyrannies, both Nazi and Communist. The Museum House of Terror in Budapest has had around 1,5 million visitors and was built with taxpayers money. In 2005 the museum offered the exhibition “The Hungarian Tragedy 1945 – Enslaved and Expelled”, which is in memory of the around 700,000 Hungarians deported during the Second World War and after 1945 to the Soviet Union. Over 350,000 did not return.

Plans for creating museums in memory of those who suffered are continuing. The goal is to have museums in both Washington D.C., Brussels and Berlin. In St. Petersburg Memorial has started work on a virtual museum. In the archive ( there are over 10,000 pictures. A forum is planned as well as cooperation with all former Soviet republics where camps existed.

The dissident Vladimir Bukovsky has contributed to Memento Gulag !. His essay is a powerful appeal against the attempts of the left since 1991 to hide the crimes of communism. He reacted strongly when leftist intellectuals attempted to compare with Guantanamo: how many prisoners have worked themselves to death in the American camp on Cuba, how many have starved or frozen to death? Excesses in the Global War on Terrorism and breaking the rules have to be punished. But to compare Guantanamo to Gulag is madness. Gulag was a genocide. Bukovsky also reacts against the fact that the hammer and sickle is not prohibited in Europe in the same way as the swastika is illegal. A great problem is that not everywhere has closure been achieved. It is missing, mainly in Russia. Germany has been in the forefront to put communist criminals on trial. There has been no Nuremberg against the worst communist criminals still alive. While waiting for a trial Bukovsky is appealing to free people everywhere to remember Gulag on November 7 each year.

The same publishing house in Germany that published Memento Gulag has also published a valuable case study about forced labor in Gulag. It is Simon Ertz’s valuable Zwangsarbeit im stalinistischen Lagersystem – Eine Untersuchung der Methoden, Strategien und Ziele ihrer Ausnuztung am Beispiel Norilsk, 1935 – 1953. ( Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, 273 pages, 2006). Ertz, born 1978, is researching at the Stanford University in California. The book treats in detail how forced labor was organized in the Soviet Union. Which methods and strategies were prominent? What was the economic purpose of forced labor? Ertz is using Norilsk in Arctic Russia as an example, where over 270,000 prisoners were employed under terrible climatic conditions.

Dissidents Yesterday and Today

In the beginning of June 2007 a conference was arranged in Prague for the dissidents of yesterday and today. President George W. Bush will look in on his way to the G-8 meeting in Germany. This conference on democracy and security has been inspired by Israel’s Natan Sharansky, who was helped out of the Soviet Union by President Ronald Reagan. Sharansky’s book The Case for Democracy has been distributed in the Bush 43 White House. The former Israel politician is underlining that democracy does not equal free elections. There is also a need for free society. The victory of the terrorist organization Hamas in the latest Palestinian election is an important example. The test of democracy is not election. Every tyranny has elections. The crucial test is instead the test of the town square. If one can freely express one’s views without being punished is of central importance.

In addition to Sharansky the Prague conference is hosted by Vaclav Havel, former president of the Czech Republic and Spain’s former conservative Prime Minister, José Maria Aznar from June 4 to 6, 2007. In Prague participants can meet dissidents from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Cuba, North Korea and Belarus. Moderate Muslims will also be in Prague at this important event. Sharansky has mentioned that Iran, like the former Soviet Union, is a state that is rotting from the inside. The resistance to the mullah revolution is so massive that it can be compared to Solidarity in Poland. At this moment it is important that journalists, trade unions and student organizations in the West support the resistance in Iran.

Communist Genocide

There is a lack of easy accessible information on the communist genocide in most European countries. This author already in 1982 published Den kommunistiska foerintelsen – den internationella kommunismens offer sedan 1917 (Uppsala: Pro Veritate. An English language edition is in preparation for publication in 2008. The preliminary title is: “Global Communist Terror – Over 100 Million Victims since 1917”). The result of the publication was personal attacks on myself and a few reviews in Swedish non-socialist media. My estimate from the material available then was around 100 million victims of communism. Later works have shown that this was an underestimation. My book is slim, under 100 pages and would be suitable for production and mass distribution to students in Sweden and the rest of Europe both on paper and in electronic format.

World Wide Communist Subversion

It is important to keep the background perspective in mind. In the Soviet drive for world domination training of communists from friendly parties was important. Networks were created worldwide using trainees at academies from communist countries. They were in turn supported by the Cheka and later KGB and GRU and after the Second World War by communist satellite intelligence services.

V.I. Lenin, one of the keenest criminal minds in world history, early claimed that the imperative was to train professional revolutionists and they had, according to him, to be trained for years. Lenin meant what he said and during the existence of the Soviet empire over 100,000 dedicated foreign communists were trained in Soviet or satellite political warfare academies. The training included armed insurgency. The trainees later made careers in local communist parties and home countries often to become powerful politicians to influence world political events.

Prior to 1917 Lenin established three political warfare training centers in Western Europe – one on the Island of Capri outside Naples in Italy, one at Bologna in Italy and the third in a suburb of Paris. The trainees of these schools did later play an important role in undermining and weakening the Kerensky government.

When in power the communists in the Soviet Union started to establish several top training academies in Moscow. They were often called ”universities” but these had nothing to do with the western concept of university (the academic training of young people). In 1920 the Bolshevik regime set up a Permanent Council for Propaganda and Action of the Peoples of the East in Baku for propaganda and conspiracy in Asia. The main target area was the Middle East: from Tashkent towards the Far East. Indian communist agents were trained at a school in Tashkent. Many were Muslim members of the Khilafat movement. Stalin laid it down that propaganda in British India was a ‘primary objective’. The Tashkent school was closed in 1921. In place of it was established the University for the Toilers of the East in Moscow. The “university” was to train Soviet Central Asians. Courses lasted three years. Around 2,000 students were trained from about 60 countries. English was the language of instruction. Later the school was reconstructed as the Sun Yat-sen University. Many of the students at that university were Chinese.

One of the leading organizers of communist subversion in the West before the Second World War was Willi Muenzenberg. An American professor, Sean McMeekin, using opened files in Moscow during the Yeltsin presidency, is the author of a biography of that Bolshevik deceiver ( The Red Millionaire: A Political Biography of Willi Muenzenberg – Moscow’s Secret Propaganda Tzar in the West, New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 2004). Sometimes Muenzenberg’s activities were funded by Swedish social democratic icon, the banker Olof Aschberg.

One of the more important services in the Soviet system to support subversion in the West was the East German Staatssicherheitsdienst (Stasi). The main training center for Swedish communists was fro the end of the Second World War until the 1960s in Bad Doberan on the East German Baltic Sea coast. Scandinavia was an important area for the operations of Stasi. A former Finnish economics professor, Goesta A. Ericsson, has published DDR Stasi och Sverige (East German Stasi and Sweden, Almqvist &Wiksell Tryckeri, 192 pages) in 2000. In it Ericsson dealt mainly with trade between Sweden and East Germany during the Cold War. He claims, with extensive documentation, that large Swedish companies provided Stasi with political information to acquire favourable business deals with the East Berlin tyranny.

Recently a former Trotskyite filmmaker and writer in Sweden, Bjorn Cederberg, has provided his perspective on Stasi operations in Sweden, Kamrat Spion – om Sverige i Stasiarkiven (Comrade Spy – on Sweden in the Stasi Archives, Bokfoerlaget Mormor, Stockholm, 2007, 279 pages). The author has interviewed a number of former Stasi officers including now deceased Markus Wolf, head of Hauptverwaltung Aufklaerung from 1952 – 1986, who was responsible for foreign operations of the regime. If one keeps in mind that former Stasi officers can be unreliable witnesses the book is of a certain interest especially on the Rosenholz registers. These files contain names of those who worked for East Germany in the West in 1987 and 1988 and are in the hands of German authorities. According to Cederberg 900 names are of interest for Sweden and they were turned over to the Swedish Security Police. This has not been reported in Swedish media and the author claims that only 50 in the register were in reality Stasi agents.

The publishers of this new book claim that Cederberg is the first who have gone through all so called SIRA records (East German computer files on intelligence reports) on Sweden. The author of this report has however earlier had access to these files. They make interesting reading. One of the agents interviewed, Manfred Laszczak, was responsible for contacts with the Swedish Foreign Ministry, SIPRI, Swedish peace movements and journalists. He was popular with the peaceniks and had five journalist informants, 3 to 4 at SIPRI and 4 to 5 at the Foreign Ministry in Stockholm. One East German interviewed is Wolfgang Eschka, press attaché at the East German embassy 1973 to 1978 but in reality working for HVA. He for instance met notorious Swedish author Jan Guillou, anti-American, maoist and an admirer of Saddam Hussein. The Stasi officer moved in the highest circles of Swedish society. It was not uncommon for him to socialize with the elite circle of heads of department of the tax funded Swedish Public Radio and TV. Eschka was invited to their homes and they came to his lodgings. Leading social democratic intellectuals such as Dieter Strand were his beer buddies. An index of names in Cederberg’s book would have been useful and added to the value of this interesting work. Cederberg was once used by Stasi in Berlin to connect with a dissident writer in East Berlin, Sascha Anderson, who later turned out to be Stasi informant. The recommendation to the Swedish author was made by a Stasi agent in West Berlin. In the 1990s Cederberg produced a film on Anderson and his career.


The investigation of the communist genocide from 1917 to 1991 is continuing. In countries like Sweden, in which social democrats are cooperating politically with the former communist party the going is hard. The socialists do not want to hurt the former communists by demanding an extensive information on the communist genocide. Since 1991 the social democratic party has worked to cover up the communist crimes. There is no major work in Swedish on communist subversion in Sweden. One of the reason may be that university graduates are not encouraged to do research on aspects of communist subversion in Sweden. It has not been politically correct in social democratic Sweden. One can only hope that the new Conservative-Christian Democratic-Liberal-Center alliance (elected in 2006 for four years) can change the socialist trend towards cover up.

The situation is different in for instance Germany and the new European Union states in Eastern Europe. In Germany the social democrats refuse to work with the former communist party. In Eastern Europe a number of museums illustrate communist terror and genocide. An important aspect is to persuade the EU to contribute funds for a museum in Brussels and offer funds to the new member states in the east so that they can increase the informational work.

A shorter book or booklet is needed for distribution to students in high schools, colleges and universities (one such book is mentioned above). More conferences are needed on the communist genocide.

The trend today favors the line of Germany and the East Europeans in efforts to disclose much of what happened in the dark age of Soviet occupation. Also Denmark is a good example. The Danish non-socialist government has provided tax-payer’s money to establish a Center for Cold War Research (Center for Koldkrigsstudier) at Odense University on the Island of Funen. It has already sparked controversy as time is devoted to trace the histories of Danes who worked for communist intelligence agencies in existing archives. Such a brave move would be impossible in Sweden where the social democratic government for ten years after the fall of the Soviet Union actively worked to protect Swedish agents who worked for the Soviet and other communist tyrannies.

Vital archives in Poland (Instityt Pamieci Narodovej), Romania (Consiliul National Pentru Studiera Archivelor Securitati), Hungary (Allabiztonsági Szolgálatok), Czech Republic (Uad Dokumentace a Vysetováni) and Slovakia (Ustav pamati narodaj and Oddeleine pre Dokumentatiu Zlocinov Komunizmu) can provide much needed revelations. In western Europe a fine work has been carried out by BStU in Berlin. No country in pot-communist Europe has done so much in coming to grips with the communist past. Time is working for revealing the genocide in the Soviet Union and crimes of communist tyrannies in the new EU countries.