Revisiting the past to make sense of the present
With socialist governments gaining firm footholds in an increasing number of countries (including our own) and with their populations being subjected to more and more government controls and restrictions, perhaps now would be a good time to take a look at part of 20th century history to remind ourselves what communist oppression was like in countries where it was ruthlessly enforced. Many of these countries are situated in central Europe, and since the same ideology was applied to all of them we'll focus on just one – Romania. When you read this article, you will see why so many people who lived under Communist regimes are warning Western citizens that this dangerous ideology is creeping into Western politics.
With the wane of the Ottoman Empire at the end of the 18th century Romania came increasingly under Russian influence. This period fueled an intense and long-lasting dislike of the Russians. At the end of the Crimean War in 1856 the principalities of Wallacia and Moldova were united, and the Treaty of Berlin of 1878 recognised the new Kingdom of Romania as an independent state. It fought against Germany, Austria and Hungary during the First World War and with Germany in the Second World War. Although it joined the Allies in 1944, its post-war fate was decided by the outcome of the Yalta Conference between Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin and the Soviet advance into central Europe in 1945. During the Soviet occupation the Communist-dominated government called for new elections in 1946, which they fraudulently won with a fabricated 70% majority of the vote. They then rapidly established themselves as the dominant political force.
In 1948 the state began to nationalise private firms and to collectivise agriculture, severely curtailing political liberties and vigorously suppressing any dissent with the help of the Securitate – the Romanian Secret Police. The regime launched several purges, during which numerous 'enemies of the state' and 'parasite elements' were targeted for different forms of punishment, including deportation, internal exile, internment in forced labour camps and prisons – sometimes for life – as well as extra-judicial killing. Nevertheless, anti-communist resistance in Romania was one of the most determined and long-lasting in Eastern Bloc countries.
An excellent historical overview of Communist oppression in Romania was given by Dr. Silviu Craciunas in his book The Lost Footsteps. Dr. Craciunas, who, along with hundreds of other intellectuals, had been on the Security Police black list for years, so he was watched by both them and paid informers, many of the latter being from the peasant class who were desperately trying to stay alive by any means possible. A passage from his book reads as follows: “The Communists were trying, by every form of intimidation, to forge a collective society at the cost of the individual. As a result, everyone lived two lives: an inner life of personal desires, ambitions, hopes and tastes, and an outer life of ever harder work for ever smaller pay, which frustrated every hope of these desires and ambitions ever being satisfied. This frustration, growing in proportion to the pressure exerted by the dictatorship, sought an outlet in resistance. Some people came into open conflict with the authorities and were either arrested or driven underground; others joined the partisans, while many others lived in an increasing state of bitterness to which they dared not give expression. All of them listened to foreign broadcasts in Romanian, especially to the news, and to comments on international events. Authentic news helped to keep alive the people's hope, and their longing for freedom took an almost Biblical form, like the longing of the Jews to be rid of the yoke of the Egyptians. My mission was partly to rescue certain people, and partly to study the co-ordination of resistance groups.”
In the autumn of 1950 Dr. Craciunas was captured, after which he endured almost unspeakable tortures, filth, degradation and starvation in order for the Security Police to obtain a 'confession'. Once, after regaining consciousness after yet another brutal beating, his interrogator gave him a lecture along these lines: “We are building a new world; in it all men will be equal. The factory is our church, the machine is our icon: these are the foundations of our life. We are creating social wealth, the basis of our earthly paradise. All your church has to offer you is paradise after death. Ours will be on earth. It's only at the moment that we must be harsh. We suffer, but future generations will be happy. We know that the mind of a small child is like wax on which nothing has yet been recorded. These are the minds we mould to our ideals: the younger generation will complete the task of building the new world. But before building comes destruction. For the new life to triumph, the old life – and every brain that works for it – must be destroyed. That is why you are undergoing this operation.”
Dr. Craciunas also made these comments: “The impression created was that of a small collective society whose life was based on harmony. But happiness and contentment, the fruits of harmony, are absent. Instead are hatred, unhappiness, cruelty, slow destruction and despair. In this struggle of opposites the victors imprison the conquered and create a strange relationship. The harmony is not true harmony, but a kind of concord imposed by force. The vanquished are forced to live a life which is mercilessly imposed on them by a power which has absolute dominion over them. There is no other power to appeal to; no one to defend them or to judge them impartially. Moreover, this forced concord now constitutes one of the basic laws of the 'New World' built by the victorious Communists. The 'New Society' is divided into two classes – the leaders and the security police. These compel the mass of the people to live according to their model of collective life. The only difference between the forced concord within the prison and the forced concord imposed on millions outside is the degree of constraint, the method of its application and the resultant difference in the degree of suffering and despair. In essence, the two ways of life are the same.”
Let me repeat the quote from earlier: "But before building comes destruction. For the new life to triumph, the old life – and every brain that works for it – must be destroyed. That is why you are undergoing this operation.” This was written about 70 years ago. Yet, it is the same ideology promoted by Klaus Schwab and his Build Back Better acolytes.
If the Lord continues to tarry, books such as The Lost Footsteps will not only remain historical record, they will become a handbook on how to survive oppressive regimes. Yet, we never have to worry about following “the lost footsteps”, for we will follow the footsteps of Jesus and they will lead us safely home.