EU remembers the victims of all totalitarian and authoritarian regimes amid conflicting narratives of WWII
Tuesday, 23 August 2016
On 23 August 1939, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. In a statement the European Commission writes that it marked the beginning of one of the darkest periods in the recent history of our continent, bringing with it the deportation, torture and murder of tens of millions of people under totalitarian regimes.
“While the end of World War II marked the defeat of the Nazi regime, many Central and Eastern Europeans continued to suffer under other totalitarian regimes,” says the statement by first Vice-President Timmermans, Commissioner Jourová and Commissioner Navracsics on the occasion of the Remembrance Day.
The Europe-Wide Day of Remembrance for the victims of all totalitarian and authoritarian regimes has been celebrated since 2009. This year (22 August) a ceremony with representatives of the justice ministries and national memory institutes of the EU Member States took place at the Gate of the Freedom Monument in Bratislava. The ceremony was hosted by the Slovak EU presidency.
“This commemoration also helps us to recall lessons learnt from this dark chapter in European history. The memory of Europe’s history should nourish our commitment to stand up for our common values and principles,” concludes the statement.
In the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, named after the ministers of foreign affairs, Hitler’s Nazi-Germany and Stalin’s Soviet-Union divided Poland, Ukraine and Balticum. The pact was the immediate cause of the outbreak of WWII with the invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939 by Nazi forces and on 17 September 1939 by Soviet forces.
The Soviet-Union was unprepared for the Nazi invasion which was to follow on 22 June 1941. While both the Nazi and the Stalinist systems resulted in mass killings for racist and political reasons, the statement does not recognize the contribution of Soviet-Union and the Red Army to the Allied victory over Nazi Germany.