During my lifetime the world has witnessed the rise and fall of many sadistic dictators. Topping the list of 20th Century despots are Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Benito Mussolini, Hikedi Tojo, Mao Tse-tung, Francisco Franco, and Ho Chi Minh.
It seems, as in the gang drug wars, when one drug lord is executed, another quickly claims the territory.
And now, civilization has to be concerned over a newcomer on the world stage of aggression – the young psychopathic ruler of North Korea, Kim Jong Un, who seems to enjoy shooting off long-rang missiles and torturing members of his own family before executing them. More on Kim later.
I realize we humans have short memories. Quick test: Who today remembers the (1) Katyn Forest massacre? (2) The slaughter at Oradourt sur Glane, France? (3) Austerlitz and (4) The First Genocide of the 20th Century?
My mother used to say that the only time you will remember an evil deed is when the sword strikes you or your loved one and, by a miracle of God, you survive.
I was reminded of that as I sat last night as I watched a young American student, arrested and convicted by the North Koreans for removing a political banner from a hotel, burst into tears and beg the court for mercy. Breaking into tears, 21-year-old Otto Frederick Warmbier, pleaded with the court, apologized for his actions, and tearfully asked for his freedom.
“My brother and my sister need me…I beg that you see that I am only human. I realize that I have made the worst mistake of my life.”
Warmbier’s plea fell on deaf ears. The Korean judges knew that Kim Jong Un’s shadow hung over their decisions. The judges ordered the young American to be incarcerated and to serve or 15 years of hard labor.
As the courtroom drama played across the TV screen in our living room, my wife turned to me and said: “Did you cry?”
“My dad always reminded me that men don’t cry….but `yes’ I cried and, in fact, got on my knees and begged for mercy.”
I was Warmbier’s age when I was arrested by the KGB (nee NKVD) at the airport in Yerevan, Armenia. My mission to Moscow was to present a petition to the US Ambassador in hopes that he could help a group of American Armenians to return home. I was arrested by two NKVD officers and charged as an “enemy of the state” (diminishing the power of the state.) Just by attempting to go to the American Embassy, the law reads that I was diminishing the power of the state.
My dear wife interrupted my thoughts with another question. “What will happen to him?”
“Oh, he’ll serve some time…”
“Fifteen years!” she screamed across the room. “For trying to remove a poster from a wall in his hotel!”
“No, no, no!” I responded, “Don’t worry….our CIA is very busy as we speak, looking down a list of possible North Korean spies in this country, someone in the class of the Soviet master spy, Rudolph Abel. And when they find one, they will hire an attorney (remembering the movie Bridge of Spies) of Tom Hanks’ caliber, who then will proceed to broker an exchange for Wamblier. We got Francis Gary Powers back for Abel, didn’t we?”
Question 1 – Katyn Forest – Stalin ordered the execution of some 20,000 Polish officers because, according to reports, the Soviet dictator believed that after the war against the Nazis was over, “we (the Soviets) would have to fight them anyway…” The mass murders were first blamed on the Nazis, but, after the fall of the Soviet Union, the Russian President, Boris Yeltsin admitted that the Soviets had committed the atrocities.
Question 2 – The Nazis massacred every living man, women and child in Oradour in retaliation after they discovered one of their SS officers dead. The SS encircled the town, shot the men, then hauled women and children into the church and set the church on fire. Those who tried to escape the inferno were gunned down. The SS also stopped a train bound for Oradour and arrested all the passengers who were then taken to a field and executed. The bodies were tossed into the burning church.
Question 3 – Most Americans have forgotten the name of Reinhard Heydrick who is known by those who lived through World War II as the “Hangman of Europe.” One of the masterminds of Hitler’s “Final Solution” of the Jews, Heydrick and his SS troopers rounded up millions of Jews who were shipped by trains to the gas chambers and crematoriums at Auschwitz.
Question 4 – Beware my dear Kurds, what you have sown, for soon you shall reap. The Kurds, culpable in the crime of the Ottoman Empire’s genocide of Christian Armenians in 1915, today wage war against Turkey, the architect of the genocide against a peaceful people who had lived alongside their fellow countrymen for more than 800 years. The Kurds’ goal is to establish a state by carving off lands in southern Turkey, northern Syria and Iraq. Who, but the Armenians today remember the crimes committed against Armenians by the Sultans, the Young Turks, and their agents of death – Talaat Pasha, the minister of war, and Enver Pasha, the minister of war who executed the plan to annihilate more than 1.5 million Armenians.
Believe me, the plague of genocide can spread from Iraq, Iran, Syria, in Russia, China, Poland, Germany – in India and Asia – to every corner of the earth.
Can it happen again? Dear Readers, it already has…
Tom Mooradian was one of 151 Americans who traveled to Soviet Armenia to repatriate during the 1940’s. Thought to be a spy by the KGB, Tom miraculously survived 13 years behind the Iron Curtain winning the hearts of the Soviets through his basketball prowess. Filled with political drama, romance, and intrigue, Tom’s autobiography, The Repatriate reads like a novel, and will have you guessing how Tom managed to return to America alive.
The Second Edition is now available on Kindle and in Paperback!