The European Memorial Day of the Victims of Totalitarian Regimes in 2012 took place in Budapest, Hungary. The official state commemorative service began outside the House of Terror Museum where the representatives of European nations jointly participated in candle lighting in memory of the victims of totalitarian regimes.
The venue was symbolic; the Hungarian House of Terror Museum is one of Europe’s most dramatic museums. Its permanent exhibition is designed to process the terror of the totalitarian dictatorships experienced by Hungary, Nazism and communism. The museum operates in a building at Andrássy út 60. where prisoners were tortured and interrogated during the years of communist terror.
At the conference, the attending European memory institutes signed a joint declaration in which they confirmed their determination to create an institute to house a joint exhibition that would introduce the history of Europe in the 20th century.
The Memorial Day came into being in the wake of a joint Hungarian-Lithuanian-Polish initiative; the Justice Ministers of the EU Member States approved the Council conclusions commemorating the victims of crimes committed by totalitarian regimes at a conference held in Luxembourg, in June 2011, during Hungary’s EU Presidency. They appointed 23 August as the memorial day for a joint European commemoration because this was the day on which the foreign ministers of the Soviet and German empires signed the document, that later became known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, as a secret clause attached to the German-Soviet treaty of non-aggression, in 1939. In this, they agreed on the division of Europe’s eastern regions into interest spheres.
The first commemoration of the Memorial Day was held in August 2011, in Warsaw, during Poland’s EU Presidency. In his speech, Tibor Navracsics, one of the initiators of the Memorial Day, Hungarian Minister of Justice, said at the time that that we need a Europe that is based on common values. He mentioned the culture of democracy, constitutionality and open society as the main core value. Director of European Network Remembrance and Solidarity, Rafał Rogulski, also participated in the commemoration of the Memorial Day.
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