Pleasant August afternoon. An older man, watching his great-grandson play in the park, recalls the summer of 1939…
This is the start of a 30-second educational film prepared by the ENRS on the occasion of the European Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Totalitarian Regimes.
What happens next? See for yourself here or on our YouTube channel on 23 August.
On 23 August, on the anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Totalitarian Regimes is observed. It was on that day in 1939 that an agreement between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union opened a road towards the tragedy of the second world war and its consequences: concentration camps, gulags, Holocaust, crematoria, labour camps, and many years of the cold war and further criminal regimes. On 23 August, all those are remembered whose deaths were a consequence of the crimes perpetrated by Nazism and Stalinism.
23 August brings back the memory of millions those who fell victim to totalitarian regimes, primarily inmates of concentration camps, death camps, Soviet gulags and Stalinist prisons. Each and every of the millions of victims had his or her individual history recalled by the identification portraits of inmates featuring on the graphic images which accompany the campaign.
An outer representation of this remembrance can be wearing a pin with a mournful black band, prepared on the initiative of the European Network Remembrance and Solidarity. The European Network Remembrance and Solidarity encourages everyone to make a symbolic gesture of remembrance by sharing and wearing a special pin with the inscription “Remember. August 23”.
The Pact was signed on 23rd of August 1939 on the Kremlin by the ministers of Foreign Affairs of Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. Soviet Union was represented by Vyacheslav Molotov and Germany by Joachim von Ribbentrop. A document that was presented to the world as a non-aggression Pact was in fact an invasion plan. Within the pact lie the secret protocol that carved the continent into two spheres of influence, split between two totalitarian systems – that of Nazi Germany and that of Soviet Union.
Beginnings of the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Totalitarian Regimes, important documents and previous commemorations.
"The initiative of the proclamation of 23 August as a day of remembrance for the victims of the two totalitarian dictatorships of 20th-century Europe, both shaped by state terror and mass murder, using the heavily symbolic name “Black Ribbon Day”, came from political emigrants in North America who had come from the Baltic States and other Central and Eastern European countries" - Prof. Stefan Troebst explains the genesis of 23 August commemorations.
How to talk about the crimes of the 20th century totalitarian regimes in Europe without equating them? Watch videos from a discussion panel at the 2015 European Symposium in Vienna.
It is a unique phenomenon in modern history - Prof. Jan Rydel on how Nazis are still being prosecuted in Germany.
For a quarter of a century we have sought to memorialise the victims of communism by erecting monuments and opening museums. But at times it seems that the most important things continue to be left unsaid - claims Wojciech Stanisławski.
Poland’s decision to reject the Soviet demands as regards the Red Army passage did not matter from the perspective of Stalin’s motivation, yet it awarded him a pretext used by Soviet propaganda and historiography - writes Prof. Marek Kornat on the inevitable course of the events leading to the war.