"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.
Author: Stefan Troebst
source: Remembrance and Solidarity. Studies in 20th Century European History, no 1, 2012.
23 August, the day in 1939 when Ribbentrop and Molotov signed the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact, gained international recognition in the 1980s: first, in North America, political émigrés from the Soviet Bloc staged public “Black Ribbon Day” ceremonies; this was followed by demonstrations in the Baltic republics of the USSR, culminating in the “Baltic Chain” from Tallinn via Riga to Vilnius in 1989. After the Eastern Enlargement of the European Union in 2004, deputies from Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, the Baltic States and other new member countries in the European Parliament identified 23 August as the smallest denominator of the enlarged EU’s politics of history. In a discussion process lasting from 2009 to 2011, the Parliament, the Commission and finally the Council of the EU defined 23 August as the “Europe-wide Day of Remembrance of the victims of the totalitarian regimes”.
Find out more:
- Individual stories of totalitarian regimes' victims
- Commemoration of 23 August - key dates and documents
- 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