Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Memorial day for victims

Hungary will host the European Memorial Day of the Victims of Totalitarian Regimes on August 23rd.

Hungary will be hosting the European Memorial Day of the Victims of Totalitarian Regimes. The memorial day was established to remember the victims of Nazism and communism in Europe during the 20th century. The Memorial Day came into being in the wake of a joint Hungarian-Lithuanian-Polish initiative. These countries suffered greatly under both of these extremist ideologies in the last century. The Justice Ministers of the EU Member States approved the Council conclusions commemorating the victims of crimes committed by totalitarian regimes at a conference held in Luxembourg, in June 2011.

August the 23rd was dedicated as the memorial day for a joint European commemoration because this was the day on which the foreign ministers of the Soviet and German empires signed the document, that later became known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Representatives from various European Union member states will attend a conference during the memorial day in Budapest.

The official state commemorative service will begin in the morning outside of the House of Terror Museum at 9 am. The Hungarian House of Terror Museum has a permanent exhibition which is designed to process the terror of the totalitarian dictatorships experienced by Hungary (Nazism and communism). The museum is housed in a building at Andrássy út 60. Prisoners were tortured and interrogated here during the years of communist terror. During the Second World War, the building was the headquarters of the dreaded Hungarian fascist Arrow Cross Party.

Representatives attending the memorial day will then go to the Hungarian Parliament where a conference will be held on issues that deal with the memorial day. President of the Republic János Áder will give a speech to all the representatives at the start of the conference. Representatives will also be given the chance to speak on the issues revolving around the conference. The attending European memory institutes at the conference will sign a joint declaration. It will confirm their vision to create an institute to house a joint exhibition that introduces the history of Europe in the 20th century.

For many decades following the end of the Second World War, crimes committed against the peoples of Central and Eastern Europe by communism were all but unknown. At the end of the Cold War and with the breakup of the Soviet Union, new documents and evidence were released showing the world the heinous crimes committed by the Soviet Union. Stalin is now known to be the worst mass murderer in human history as recent estimates show that he killed tens of millions of people.

It is a good thing that the crimes of the communists are now being acknowledged by the rest of the world. For far too long the surviving victims of communism were not officially acknowledged as "victims" and the crimes against them were either unknown or purposefully ignored. The memorial day for the victims of totalitarian regimes was definitely needed decades ago. Due to the situation and the political environment at the time, this was impossible to do. In conclusion, the memorial day is a victory for those who suffered or who were killed by communism. The crimes committed against them are now finally acknowledged.

For more on the memorial day: