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Brussels, 23 August 2014
Statement by Martine Reicherts, EU Justice Commissioner on the Europe-wide Day of Remembrance for the victims of all totalitarian and authoritarian regimes
75 years ago today – on 23 August 1939 – two totalitarian regimes signed a non-aggression pact. This pact of Nazi Germany under Hitler and the Soviet Union under Stalin would pave the way for the most brutal war to this day, leading to many years of fear, horror and pain for the victims of these regimes.
Today is a day to remember all those who suffered under totalitarian and authoritarian rule. Today we reflect together upon the lessons learnt from this horrific chapter in European history.
The most important lesson is that remembering the past is crucial for building the future. That is what we have been doing over the past decades. As a result, the Europe we see today rests on strong values: dignity, freedom, democracy, the rule of law and human rights including the rights of persons belonging to minorities.
Today is a reminder that we must not take these achievements for granted. Peace, democracy and fundamental rights are not a given. We have to defend them, every day of the year.