REMEMBER: August 23

If you would like to show you respect to all who resisted and suffered from totalitarianism, you can show it by wearing a black ribbon. Or you can visit one of many cultural events, like exhibitions, concerts, happening all around Europe. For more information, please visit the Platform of European Memory and Conscience Facebook, where you can find more about interesting events in different countries.

Vyacheslav Molotov, the soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs, signing the non-aggression pact. Behind him, German Foreign Minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop, and the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin

The date 23 August 2022 marks 83 years since the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact – an agreement that pave the way for the tragedies of the Second World War. In 2008 this day was proclaimed to be the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism. This day should preserve the memory of the victims of mass deportations and exterminations. We asked our historian, Petr Blažek, about the history of the Remembrance Day and the events behind it.

August 23 is known as the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism (Black Ribbon Day). Why this date?

The date was chosen by the European Parliament in 2008. It was chosen to coincide with the date of the singing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact on 1939 August 23rd, a non-aggression pact between the Soviet Union and Germany, which contained a protocol dividing spheres of influence. The resolution was voted to pass by the European Parliament on 2008 September 28th. The Preamble of the Resolution “proposes that 23 August be proclaimed European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism, in order to preserve the memory of the victims of mass deportations and exterminations, and at the same time rooting democracy more firmly and reinforcing peace and stability in our continent “.

The date, August 23rd played an important role in 1989. Later the event of this day was added to UNESCO´s Memory of the World Register. Can you tell us what happened on that day?

It was an important event; we know it as the Baltic way or the Baltic Chain. The Baltic Chain was a peaceful political demonstration of opposition parties that occurred on 1989 August 23rd. It marked the 50th anniversary of the signing the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.  Approximately two million people joined their hands to form a human chain spanning 600 kilometres across three Baltic states. This event basically initiated the collapse of the Soviet Union.

What was the Soviets reactions to the events of Baltic Chain?

The leadership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was very critical towards the event and labelled the organizers as revisionists, whose want to change the results of the Second World War. Standard soviet propaganda.

European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism. Why are we talking only about Stalinism and not communism as such?

It only shows the limitations of European lawgivers and shows their perception of these two totalitarian regimes.

In your opinion, what should we do to properly remembering this day, and not give it a chance to became just another day in the calendar?

We should do everything in our power to show the similarity of the above-mentioned regimes. In the light of the current events the Remembrance Day is more important than ever before. It would be amazing if we and politicians, would be able to do more than few words each year. I think, it would be great if we could organize cultural events for example with the Polish Embassy or with Baltic countries. And make sure, that this day became an important part of the common knowledge.

Peaceful demonstration of the Baltic chain