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It’s ‘Captive Nations Week’ — Here’s Why We Should Care

July 20, 2020


At the height of the Cold War in 1959, Congress established “Captive Nations Week” to show the American people’s solidarity with the hundreds of millions suffering under communist regimes. Scheduled for the third week of July, the occasion gave rise to annual parades and rallies in major American cities, with thousands of people taking to the streets, supported by governors, mayors and officials at every level of government, to demand the liberation of communist-controlled nations.

Sixty-one years later, Captive Nations Week — which began Sunday — is all but forgotten. Yet the phenomenon of communist subjugation of free people is real and growing, and 20 percent of the world’s population still lives under single-party communist dictatorships — more than in 1989. If ever there were a moment to bring back Captive Nations Week, this is it. 

In creating this week, Congress specifically called out the “imperialistic policies” of the Soviet Union. Today, this phrase is just as easily applied to the People’s Republic of China, which dominates a growing number of lands and peoples, and aggressively seeks to add more to the list. 

At the time of publishing, Marion Smith was executive director of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.

Originally published in The Hill.

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