Claire Berlinski, in City Journal, marvels that 50,000 records from the Soviet archives smuggled out of Russia by dissidents remain unpublished and untranslated.
Their neglect by an academic and journalistic establishment dominated by the left should not be surprising. They obviously contain a great many things members of the left would prefer not to know. Berlinski quotes several interesting examples.
In the worldâ€™s collective consciousness, the word â€œNaziâ€ is synonymous with evil. It is widely understood that the Nazisâ€™ ideologyâ€”nationalism, anti-Semitism, the autarkic ethnic state, the FÃ¼hrer principleâ€”led directly to the furnaces of Auschwitz. It is not nearly as well understood that Communism led just as inexorably, everywhere on the globe where it was applied, to starvation, torture, and slave-labor camps. Nor is it widely acknowledged that Communism was responsible for the deaths of some 150 million human beings during the twentieth century. The world remains inexplicably indifferent and uncurious about the deadliest ideology in history.
For evidence of this indifference, consider the unread Soviet archives. Pavel Stroilov, a Russian exile in London, has on his computer 50,000 unpublished, untranslated, top-secret Kremlin documents, mostly dating from the close of the Cold War.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 canâ€™t get anyone to house them in a reputable library, publish them, or fund their translation. In fact, he canâ€™t get anyone to take much interest in them at all. …
the documents cast Gorbachev in a far darker light than the one in which he is generally regarded. In one document, he laughs with the Politburo about the USSRâ€™s downing of Korean Airlines flight 007 in 1983â€”a crime that was not only monstrous but brought the world very near to nuclear Armageddon. These minutes from a Politburo meeting on October 4, 1989, are similarly disturbing:
Lukyanov reports that the real number of casualties on Tiananmen Square was 3,000.
Gorbachev: We must be realists. They, like us, have to defend themselves. Three thousands . . . So what?
And a transcript of Gorbachevâ€™s conversation with Hans-Jochen Vogel, the leader of West Germanyâ€™s Social Democratic Party, shows Gorbachev defending Soviet troopsâ€™ April 9, 1989, massacre of peaceful protesters in Tbilisi. …
There are other ways in which the story that Stroilovâ€™s and Bukovskyâ€™s papers tell isnâ€™t over. They suggest, for example, that the architects of the European integration project, as well as many of todayâ€™s senior leaders in the European Union, were far too close to the USSR for comfort. This raises important questions about the nature of contemporary Europeâ€”questions that might be asked when Americans consider Europe as a model for social policy, or when they seek European diplomatic cooperation on key issues of national security.
According to Zagladinâ€™s reports, for example, Kenneth Coates, who from 1989 to 1998 was a British member of the European Parliament, approached Zagladin on January 9, 1990, to discuss what amounted to a gradual merger of the European Parliament and the Supreme Soviet. Coates, says Zagladin, explained that â€œcreating an infrastructure of cooperation between the two parliament[s] would help . . . to isolate the rightists in the European Parliament (and in Europe), those who are interested in the USSRâ€™s collapse.â€ Coates served as chair of the European Parliamentâ€™s Subcommittee on Human Rights from 1992 to 1994. How did it come to pass that Europe was taking advice about human rights from a man who had apparently wished to â€œisolateâ€ those interested in the USSRâ€™s collapse and sought to extend Soviet influence in Europe?
Or consider a report on Francisco FernÃ¡ndez OrdÃ³Ã±ez, who led Spainâ€™s integration into the European Community as its foreign minister. On March 3, 1989, according to these documents, he explained to Gorbachev that â€œthe success of perestroika means only one thingâ€”the success of the socialist revolution in contemporary conditions. And that is exactly what the reactionaries donâ€™t accept.â€ Eighteen months later, OrdÃ³Ã±ez told Gorbachev: â€œI feel intellectual disgust when I have to read, for example, passages in the documents of â€˜G7â€™ where the problems of democracy, freedom of human personality and ideology of market economy are set on the same level. As a socialist, I cannot accept such an equation.â€ Perhaps most shockingly, the Eastern European press has reported that Stroilovâ€™s documents suggest that FranÃ§ois Mitterrand was maneuvering with Gorbachev to ensure that Germany would unite as a neutral, socialist entity under a Franco-Soviet condominium.
Zagladinâ€™s records also note that the former leader of the British Labour Party, Neil Kinnock, approached Gorbachevâ€”unauthorized, while Kinnock was leader of the oppositionâ€”through a secret envoy to discuss the possibility of halting the United Kingdomâ€™s Trident nuclear-missile program.
The Kinnock anecdote certainly sounds familiar. Remember Ted Kennedy’s 1983 overtures to Gorbachev to work together against President Reagan military build-up?