The “European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism”, known as “Black Ribbon Day” in some countries, is an international day of remembrance for victims of totalitarian regimes, specifically Stalinism, Communism, Nazism & Fascism. It is observed on August 23 and symbolizes the rejection of “extremism, intolerance and oppression”.
It was designated by the European Parliament in 2008/2009 as “a Europe-wide Day of Remembrance for the victims of all totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, to be commemorated with dignity and impartiality”, and has been observed annually by the bodies of the European Union since 2009.
August 23 was chosen to coincide with the date of the signing of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, a 1939 non-aggression pact between the USSR and Nazi Germany which contained a protocol dividing Romania, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Finland into designated German and Soviet spheres of influence. The treaty was described by the European Parliament’s president Jerzy Buzek in 2010 as “the collusion of the two worst forms of totalitarianism in the history of humanity”.
The remembrance day originated in protests held in western cities against Soviet crimes and occupation in the 1980s, initiated by Canadian refugees from countries occupied by the Soviet Union. The protests culminated in The Baltic Way, a major demonstration during the Revolutions of 1989 that contributed to the liberation of the Baltic states.
August 23 is also officially recognized by Canada and the United States, where it is known as Black Ribbon Day.