Beginnings of the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Totalitarian Regimes, important documents and previous commemorations.
23 September 2008
The European Parliament designated the 23 August (the day of signing the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact) as the 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 Europe.
2 April 2009
European Parliament resolution on European consience and totalitarianism, in which the European Parliament condemned totalitarian crimes and called for the recognition of "Communism, Nazism and fascism as a shared legacy" and "an honest and thorough debate on all the totalitarian crimes of the past century." The resolution also called for several measures to strengthen public awareness of totalitarian crimes and expressed its respect for the victims of these crimes, as well as regret that the access to archival documents from this period is still limited. Having regard to its declaration of 23 September 2008 on the proclamation of 23 August as European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism, the European Parliament called for its implementation by the Member States, "to be commemorated with dignity and impartiality”. The European Parliament called the European Commission and the Member States “to make further efforts to strengthen the teaching of European history and to underline the historic achievement of European integration and the stark contrast between the tragic past and the peaceful and democratic social order in today's European Union”.
22 December 2010
The European Commission report ”The memory of the crimes committed by totalitarian regimes in Europe" is published.
10 June 2011
The meeting of European Union Justice and Home Affairs Council reached the Conclusions and decided on the procedures which would guarantee that crimes committed by the totalitarian regimes shouldn’t be forgotten. The Conclusions stated that the EU Member States are encouraged to remember and to spread the information about the crimes and the procedures that can be carried out to keep the memories alive, including running projects, programmes, and research sponsored by the EU funds. The EU Justice and Home Affairs Ministers also agreed that all European Union nations should be encouraged to acknowledge 23 August as a remembrance day of the victims of the totalitarian regimes, in the hopes of increasing awareness about the totalitarian regime crimes.
23 August 2011
The conference "European Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Totalitarian Regimes" was held in Warsaw under the auspices of the Polish Presidency, organized by the Ministry of Justice and the Institute of National Remembrance. The conference was attended by Ministers of Justice of the Member States, including representatives of European institutions involved in the settlement of the totalitarian past. The conference was not only a form of commemoration of victims of totalitarian regimes, but also a platform for exchange of experience in this field. During the conference the Ministers of Justice of 16 European Member States and the President of the European Parliament signed the Warsaw Declaration. The document states that “crimes of totalitarian regimes in Europe should be acknowledged and condemned, regardless of their type and ideology”. There is also a declaration of keeping up the memory of victims of all totalitarian regimes and appeal for holding people responsible for committing such crimes.
That year, the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of the Totalitarian Regimes was held in Budapest. The event followed by the “International Conference „Confronting the Past” was attended by state dignitaries, the ministers of justice of European countries, members of the diplomatic corps, members of the European Parliament and other invited guests. At the conference "Confronting the Past" the ministers of justice of different EU countries talked about how their country began to face their totalitarian past, what changes have been made to the legal system, and how the society could adopt to a new political system. The delegates of the remembrance institutes shared their comments regarding the establishment of a museum paying tribute to the victims of totalitarian regimes. The discussion was hosted by Mária Schmidt, General Director of the House of Terror Museum.
3 June 2013
The Committee for Culture and Media of the German Bundestag issued a resolution regarding reappraisal of the SED dictatorship, in which it requested the Federal Government to ensure that "on historical anniversaries such as June 17th, August 13th and November 9th the communist dictatorship in East Germany and its victims be commemorated nationwide and, pursuant to the resolution of the EU Parliament on April 2nd 2009, August 23rd be celebrated as European Day of remembrance of the victims of totalitarianism".
Lithuanian continued the tradition started by the Polish presidency of the EU in Warsaw in 2011 and on this occasion run the commemoration of the victims of totalitarian regimes dedicated to the entire Europe in Vilnius on 23 August 2013. The objective of the event is to seek ways to raise awareness of European youth on the crimes of the totalitarian regimes in Europe. Commemorations took place in Vilnius, Trakai, Paneriai and Druskininkai.
>> Learn more on the commemoration here
Find out more:
- Individual stories of totalitarian regimes' victims
- The Genesis of the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Totalitarian Regimes
- Molotov - Ribbentrop Pact explained
- Different ways to remember totalitarian regimes in Europe - discussion panel
- Nuremberg Is Not Enough - an article by Jan Rydel
- Truncheons in the display case - an article by Wojciech Stanisławski
- That Old Soviet Idea - an article by Marek Kornat