(Stanislav Krasilnikov/ITAR-TASS/ZUMAPRESS.com) [via Newscom]

(Stanislav Krasilnikov/ITAR-TASS/ZUMAPRESS.com) [via Newscom]

Russian history in the 20th century is bookended by the disastrous rise and eventual collapse of Soviet communism. And no one did a better chronicling communism’s failures than master story-teller Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

>>> Check Out: Cronyism Corrupted Sochi Olympics

So let’s suppose the Nobel Laureate had lived long enough into this century to contribute commentary to the opening ceremony of the Sochi Winter Games. The hosts provided a highly romanticized version of modern Russian history. Solzhenitsyn would have insisted that the following events be included:

  • The Gulag. The Soviet network of 1,000 forced labor camps through which an estimated 20 million prisoners passed. At least one-third and perhaps as many as one-half of them died of starvation, overwork, disease, or a bullet in the back of the neck.
  • The Holodomor. The forced famine of 1932-33 during which more than six million Ukrainians died of starvation, a Soviet crime described as “genocide” by many historians.
  • Giant photos of Lenin, Stalin, Trotsky, the three Soviet leaders who led the Bolshevik Revolution that resulted in the deaths of more than 100 million victims of communism from 1917 to the present.
  • The Lubyanka, the KGB headquarters in the heart of Moscow where for decades, countless political prisoners were tortured and executed.
  • The Katyn Forest, where some 22,000 Polish intellectuals, officers, priests, land-owners and others were executed in 1939-40 with Stalin’s written approval.
  • The Hungarian Revolution of 1956, when young freedom fighters celebrated a few weeks of Hungarian independence from Soviet rule, until Soviet tanks and troops crushed the revolution, murdering thousands.
  • The Prague Spring of 1968, when a Czech bid for more political freedom was wiped out by ubiquitous Soviet tanks.
  • The Hitler-Stalin Non-Aggression Pact of August 1939 that precipitated World War II by allowing Hitler to invade Poland, forcing Great Britain and France to respond with a declaration of war.
  • The Korean War of 1950-1953, begun when North Korea invaded South Korea, an action encouraged and abetted by Stalin. Among the costs: the deaths of some 35,000 American servicemen.
  • The Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962, when the world came closer to a nuclear confrontation than at any other time in the Cold War. It was a crisis caused when Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev tried to install in Cuba intermediate nuclear missiles capable of hitting Washington, D.C. and other American cities.

Every one of these communist crimes was omitted from Sochi’s shameful airbrushing of the seven decades of Soviet rule from 1917-1991. Amid all the celebrating and the gold medals, the Russian people would do well to remember that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.