BUCKHANNON — Every August 23, the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism remembers victims of totalitarian regimes. These include Stalinist, communist, Nazi and fascist regimes. The day is also known as Black Ribbon Day.
According to the National Calendar Day website, “The origins of European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism go back to the 1980s. During this time, European refugees living in Canada organized peaceful protests. These protests raised awareness for the human rights abuses perpetuated by authorities in the Soviet Union. In 1991, Black Ribbon Day demonstrations were held in 56 cities around the world after the Soviet bloc collapsed. In 2008, the European Parliament formally designated August 23 as European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism. Canada’s parliament followed suit in 2009. Since then, the United States, and other countries recognize August 23 as Black Ribbon Day.”
August 23 was chosen as it commemorates the infamous Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact that occurred in 1939. This pact was between the Soviet Union and Germany. Shortly after the pact was signed, WWII began.
Throughout history, millions of people around the world have died under communist and fascist leaders. Two of the evilest leaders in history have included Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin. Hitler became the chancellor of Germany in 1933. His evil regime lasted until 1945. Under his leadership, Nazis committed genocide against the Jews. But it wasn’t just Jews who suffered. It was also the disabled, the prisoners of war, concentration camp inmates and other ethnic groups. Over one million of Hitler’s victims were under the age of 18.
According to natioanlcalendarday.com “Joseph Stalin assumed leadership over the Soviet Union in 1924. He was the country’s political leader until his death in 1953. His policies became known as Stalinism. It was under Stalin’s leadership that the Soviet Red Army captured Berlin in 1945. This act helped to end World War II. But also under his long leadership, millions of people died. Most of these people were victims of ethnic cleansings, executions, famines, and forced deportations.”
It is very difficult to think about the many innocent victims who died under these leaders. However, people must remember events like these to help ensure history never repeats itself.
Many countries around the world hold special ceremonies to remember the victims of Stalinism and Nazism. Some people hold peaceful protests and demonstrations to draw awareness for human rights in communists and socialist countries. This is also an important day to study history and the impact Nazism and Stalinism has had on the world. There have been many books written and movies made on these subjects. Another way to observe the day is to wear a black ribbon.