Acton Institute Powerblog

Digging In to the Crimes of Communism

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Having recently finished reading Jean-François Revel’s Last Exit to Utopia – in which he excoriates leftist intellectuals for ignoring the crimes of communist totalitarianism and their efforts to resurrect the deadly ideology – and having just read a few more chapters of Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago over lunch, it seems providential that I would stumble across this article at City Journal on the failure of researchers to seriously dig into the now-available archives of the Soviet Union:

Pavel Stroilov, a Russian exile in London, has on his computer 50,000 unpublished, untranslated, top-secret Kremlin documents, mostly dating from the close of the Cold War. He stole them in 2003 and fled Russia. Within living memory, they would have been worth millions to the CIA; they surely tell a story about Communism and its collapse that the world needs to know. Yet he can’t get anyone to house them in a reputable library, publish them, or fund their translation. In fact, he can’t get anyone to take much interest in them at all.

Then there’s Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky, who once spent 12 years in the USSR’s prisons, labor camps, and psikhushkas—political psychiatric hospitals—after being convicted of copying anti-Soviet literature. He, too, possesses a massive collection of stolen and smuggled papers from the archives of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, which, as he writes, “contain the beginnings and the ends of all the tragedies of our bloodstained century.” These documents are available online at, but most are not translated. They are unorganized; there are no summaries; there is no search or index function. “I offer them free of charge to the most influential newspapers and journals in the world, but nobody wants to print them,” Bukovsky writes. “Editors shrug indifferently: So what? Who cares?”

If we have a duty to remember the victims of Naziism and to ensure that the hateful and vicious ideology of Hitler never rises again – and we do – do we not also have the same duty when it comes to the millions who were starved and worked to death in the communist Gulag? This material needs to be properly studied, translated, and released soon. The fact that it hasn’t been already is a shame, and an insult to the victims of communist tyranny.

Marc Vander Maas


  • Ron Radosh takes a dissenting view in this post at Pajamas Media: Claire Berlinski on Soviet Espionage: A Misleading Article Appears in City Journal, to which Berlinski responds at City Journal.

  • MaryAnn

    The Leftists in America, from our current administration to academia and the media, know very well the history of the Soviet Union and communism. They agree with the Marxist/Communist philosophy and have been working very hard since the 19th century to implement it in America. They simply believe that it has not been done correctly yet, and they know how to do it right. Because they have rejected God and salvation from God, they are left only with their empty and destructive ideas of a manmade utopia. They’ve come a long way. America needs prayer; there are no longer any political answers, if there ever were.

  • Neal Lang

    From Mr. Radosh’s commentary:

    “Ken Coates is a long-standing left-wing critic of Stalinism, and I have been reliably informed that the inference in this article that he wanted ‘a gradual merger of the European Parliament and the Supreme Soviet’ and that he ’sought to extend Soviet influence in Europe’ is a gross misrepresentation of his actual views about East-West relations.”

    For God’s sake, even Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev was a critic of Stalin, yet told the “West” – “We will bury you!” In Soviet Russia, anti-Stalinism was a badge of honor after his death in 1953! Mr. Radosh reminds me of that other “fellow traveler” in the media, Walter Cronkite, felt that the people of South Vietnam would be better off Red!