On August 23rd, 2014, the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation held commemorative events to mark Black Ribbon Day. On August 23rd in 1939, the Soviet Union signed a non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany, assuring Hitler that he could invade Poland without any interference from the East. Within a few days after the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, Hitler had indeed invaded Poland and World War II had begun. In the 1980s, members of the Baltic diaspora community living abroad began organizing Black Ribbon Day protests on August 23rd to mark the intertwined legacies and combined victims of German fascism and Soviet communism.
On May 22, 2014, the United States House of Representatives passed H.R. 4435, which designated August 23rd as Black Ribbon Day. Congressman John Shimkus of Illinois, co-chairman of the House Baltic Caucus, sponsored the legislation. The legislation now moves on to the Senate. If the Senate passes a matching Resolution, the United States will join countries around the world in marking August 23rd as Black Ribbon Day and commemorating the millions of victims of Nazi and Communist regimes in Europe.
VOC held a morning ceremony at the US Capitol, where Baltic and Eastern European ambassadors and human rights activists gathered with Congressman Shimkus. Later that morning, VOC held a public wreath-laying ceremony at the Victims of Communism Memorial, which drew over 100 visitors and supporters.
For more information or to schedule a press interview please contact Ayla Ybarra at [email protected] or (202) 629-9500.