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ePoshta | 13May2012 | Oksana Bashuk Hepburn

Museum whitewashing Communist crimes

Reprinted from: The New Pathway | 22Apr2012 | Oksana Bashuk Hepburn

Mental Callisthenics with Vujko Ilko

Vujko Ilko had been celebrating Velykden in Winnipeg. Now, we’re meeting for our own ‘pysanky’ mental callisthenics -- discussions on matters of importance to our community in Canada. He didn’t mention any topics but reported that the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of Sts Volodymyr and Olga was packed for “five different paska blessings”, yet there wasn’t a ‘peep,’ he said, in the Winnipeg Free Press.

“The Museum is huge,” he starts “with criticism to match.”

Clearly, he is not pursuing the need to fix the ‘if-you’re-not-in-the-media-you-don’t-exist’ syndrome plaguing our community; and not only about Velykden. Our non-existence in the media is due, mainly, to our inattentiveness. Today’s topic is the cost overruns of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights; 65 million dollars for completion and some 33% surge -- to 30 million -- on operating costs. The social media is raging with complaints about the unsustainable ‘Museum of Hypocrisy’. The feds said: no further funding.

“So has the work stopped on the Museum, Uncle?”

“No. Its new leadership team means to finish the shell. It looks like a WWII German bunker protecting its position, or like a Roman soldier’s helmet with the visor down. Defensive.”

“Apparently the facility has no provisions for rental space or catering, the financial backbone of most Canadian museums.”

“But here’s the latest gig. Winnipeg City Council has just voted in Mayor Sam Katz’s idea of giving 700,000 free tickets to a water park that will sit next door to the Museum. Underprivileged kids will be subsidized annually by Winnipeg taxpayers to have a little fun. But the real chutzpah is this: I suspect they will need to get educated at the Museum first. And at ten dollars a head, the Museum will get its shortfall of $7,000,000 operating cost.”

“Huumm. What does that mean?”

“A tie-in between the Museum and the water park. Young minds will be exposed to the Museum’s one-sided take of the WWII tragedy. Communist crimes against humanity will not be portrayed on par with Nazi crimes. Communist ideology will continue being okay. The five million Holocaust victims will get star billing. The whole truth, some 14 million non-combatant murders -- nine million of them non-Jews -- will get a wee mention.”

“Now there’s a hocus pocus. What do Winnipegers think?”

“Many see Katz as a hocus pocus kind of guy. He promised not to raise taxes -- to beat out Judy Wasylycia-Leis in the last race -- and hasn’t. Instead, the Mayor slaps on “levies”. And he let the infrastructure rot for his successor to deal with. Many complain that the water park does not belong in The Forks green space.”

“What about the Holodomor. Is the UCC winning the battle to give it greater prominence?”

“I asked the President for an update. He promised, but did not get back. But Timothy Snyder was in town. He’s the award-winning Yale historian; author of Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin. He was clear on what the Museum must do. First focus on Canadian issues. Then, recognize the horror of the Bloodlands - Western Poland, Ukraine and Belarus -- where some 14 million perished between 1932-33, when Kremlin’s Communists instigated Holodomor, and 1945, the end of the War. That’s the huge universal lesson. And remembers nine million were non-Jews.”

“Wow! And some historians would argue that Snyder’s figures for Holodomor are conservative. But how to right this wrong?”

“His vision is markedly different from Gail Asper’s, a champion of the Museum and the Holocaust. Snyder is for inclusion; for the full version of history; for all victims. Very Canadian. More, he wants Stalin’s murders exposed on par with those of the Nazis: no sweeping of their crimes under the carpet because of some long-held left-wing leanings. Both covered the Bloodlands with corpses. The Museum isn’t some Hollywood film producer with private money exclusively denouncing Nazis in support of personal world views. This is about accurate and complete representation of history and the ever-present threat to human rights. Snyder advocates this: genocides are not sole-sourced; anyone can be a perpetrator or victim. No one has exclusivity or pre-eminence.”

“Uncle, by not giving equal billing to the Communist crimes, the Museum is protecting murderers like Joseph Stalin and his Holodomor architect Lazar Kaganovich, and others.”


“Does the Canadian government realize it has been sucked into this duplicity?”

“Don’t know, but we’d better make it clear to them. I hope that’s what Paul Grod is doing. Good UCC tactics? Make the case, again if need be, with others misfortunate enough to experience the hammer and sickle “paradise”. That’s all Eastern Europeans, Balts, Vietnamese, Cambodians, Chinese, and Cubans. If all victims of Communism of the last century are counted up, it’s well over 100 million dead. That is unprecedented and it has been whitewashed for too long.”

“Good grief. What an embarrassment for Canada if the Museum fails to get this right.”

“Free tickets to underprivileged kids notwithstanding.”