PRESS RELEASE / STATEMENT
May 5, 2018
Estonian Institute of Historical Memory: Participation of the European Commission’s leader in Marx’s birthday party is ignorance of victims of communism.
The Estonian Institute of Historical Memory, which researches the history of totalitarian regimes, declares that by participating in the festivities in Trier, Germany, celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx, the founding father of communism, the President of the European Commission is ignoring the fate of millions of victims of communism.
The Communist Manifesto, which was published 170 years ago and became the political programme of the communist movement, prescribed violent class struggle and the subjection of all relations in society to total control. Communism is insurmountably at variance with the principle of the democratic state based on the rule of law that respects personal liberties, which is one of the fundamental principles of the European Union.
Sooner or later, all communist regimes became criminal and The Communist Manifesto was one of the fundamental sources for the policies of all those regimes. The issue is not the arbitrary implementation of ideology. Communist ideology, which formulated a vision of the future without alternative options, was hostile towards humanity in and of itself. We have no alternative but to see Karl Marx as bearing joint responsibility for the consequences of the ideology that he initiated, and not merely as a utopian philosopher. The participation of the President of the European Commission in Marx’s bicentenary festivities does not support a deeper mutual understanding among European peoples with differing historical experiences. This is a moral conflict.
According to the Black Book of Communism, which was compiled 20 years ago under the direction of the French historian Stéphane Courtois, communist regimes have destroyed over 100 million people throughout the world. Nearly 30,000 Estonian citizens and inhabitants lost their lives as victims of the communist regime’s political terror, in addition to those tens of thousands who managed to survive and return to their homeland after long years spent as deportees or in prison camps. In total, Estonia lost nearly a fifth of its population of slightly more than one million during the Second World War, as victims or consequences of national socialist, but particularly of communist political repressions.
A totalitarian form of government together with terror against its own population always accompanied the establishment of communist regimes in the 20th century. States with political regimes founded on communist ideology exist in the 21st century world as well, and the fundamental human rights and freedoms are mostly disregarded in those states. Regardless of the collapse of the Eastern Bloc in Europe over a quarter of a century ago, to this day the consequences of policies founded on Marxist doctrine affect all societies that have shaken off the rule of communist regimes.
The head of the European Commission must honour the experience of the past of all Europeans and peoples of Europe, and avoid trivialising the memory of the destruction carried out by totalitarian regimes. Such trivialisation is precisely what resonates from the honouring of the memory of Karl Marx on the 200th anniversary of his birth.
The Estonian Institute of Historical Memory and its predecessor have since 1998 studied international crimes and violations of human rights committed in Estonia by regimes hostile towards humanity. The Institute also studies totalitarian ideologies that have given rise to such regimes. Through the results of its research and publicity work, the Institute’s aim is to repel regimes of the 21st century as well that are hostile towards humanity, and to actively participate in both national and international educational and publicity work. The Institute is developing an international research centre and museum of the crimes of communism in Estonia’s capital Tallinn in cooperation with European memory institutions.