Black Ribbon Day – 23rd August – European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Totalitarian Regimes

Black ribbon day

The European Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Totalitarian Regimes

Or The Black Ribbon Day is the international remembrance day for victims of totalitarian ideologies, specifically totalitarian communist regimes, Stalinism, Nazism and fascism.


On 23rd of August 1939, two totalitarian states – Nazi Germany and Soviet Union – concluded a Non-Aggression pact. An agreement on that day opened a road towards the tragedy of the second wordl war and its consequences; concentration camps, gulags, Holocaust, crematoria, labour camps, and many years of the cold war and further criminal regimes. Both the date and the name “Black Ribbon Day” originated in demonstrations held in western countries in the 1980s, organised mostly by refugees from countries occupied by the Soviet Union, to bring attention to Soviet war crimes and human rights violations, and to protest against the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in which Hitler gave Joseph Stalin free hands to invade several Eastern European nations – the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania – as well as subsequent deals such as the Yalta Conference in which Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt gave Joseph Stalin “free hands” in Eastern Europe, including to annex states occupied by the Soviet Union and impose a totalitarian dictatorship on them that lasted for decades. On 23 August 1986, Black Ribbon Day demonstrations were held in 21 western cities including New York City, Ottawa, London, Stockholm, Seattle, Los Angeles, Perth, Australia and Washington DC. The demonstrations were initiated by Canada’s Central and Eastern European communities.

In 1987, Black Ribbon Day protests spread to the Baltic countries, culminating in the Baltic Way in 1989, a historic event during the revolutions of 1989, in which two million people joined their hands to form a human chain, to protest against the continued Soviet occupation.

It is on 23rd of August, 2008 that the European Parliament passed the law designating this day 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, as well as reinforce our activities for peace and stability in Europe. Following the European Parliament’s initiative, we wish to commemorate the victims of the struggle against totalitarianisms of the 20th century – the Red and the Brown – systems that put an end or destroyed lives of millions of Europeans.

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”.

We must remember the victims of the 20thcentury. We have to research our past and learn from it, so that we can treasure the world we live in and never again allow for any rebirth of totalitarian systems. Today, we commemorate all the victims and we are proud of those who took it upon themselves to fight the evils of the the 20th century, so that we could once again live in a democratic world. It is vital for us today to show our respect to the victims and heroes of this struggle.

Black Ribbon Day


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