Statement by President von der Leyen on the Europe-Wide Day of Remembrance for the victims of all totalitarian and authoritarian regimes

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This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


To commemorate the Europe-Wide Day of Remembrance for the victims of all totalitarian and authoritarian regimes tomorrow, President von der Leyen issued the following statement:

“On 23 August, we honour the memory of the victims of totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, in Europe and beyond. Today, on the 83rd anniversary of the signature of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, this date carries a special significance. This year, Putin brought the horrors of war back to Europe, along with the reminder that peace cannot be taken for granted.

The painful memory of the past is not just a distant recollection, but has found an echo in Russia’s illegal and unjustified war against Ukraine. We are inspired by the courage of those who then stood up to injustice, and we express our respect and support for the many men and women who are forced to do it again today. Ukrainian people are giving their lives to protect the values on which our Union is built.

Today more than ever, we stand united against the Russian state-controlled propaganda that distorts history, spreads conspiracy and punishes those who oppose it. We will continue with determination our work to counter disinformation. And we will ensure that those who stood against totalitarianism will not be forgotten.

This day also reminds us that Europe was built to protect peace, promote democracy, the rule of law and ensure the protection of the universal rights and freedoms. Our Union was created for us, Europeans, to steer away from war and oppression. Freedom from totalitarianism and authoritarianism is at the heart of the European Union, which is built on peace, the rule of law and democracy.

We will continue to stand, united, for these fundamental values. We will continue to stand with Ukraine, for as long as it takes. We will not rest, until you prevail.”

Background

Celebrated since 2009, the Europe-Wide Day of Remembrance for the victims of all totalitarian and authoritarian regimes is an occasion to keep alive the memory of the victims.

The European Commission supports projects across Europe which address the history of totalitarian crimes and encourage remembrance. Building on the Europe for citizens programme 2014-2020, the new Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values programme supports remembrance actions on the causes of totalitarian regimes, in particular Nazism, but also fascism, Stalinism and totalitarian communist regimes.

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