VOC Commemorates Black Ribbon Day

Today, August 23, is Black Ribbon Day, a day of remembrance for the millions of victims who experienced unspeakable suffering or death under Soviet Communism and Nazi Germany. VOC remembers the victims of these oppressive regimes, and we continue to hope for and work to advance the freedom of those still oppressed and terrorized by totalitarian regimes today.

It is vital that we recognize the tyranny still taking place around the world and confront the authoritarian regimes existing today that oppress men, women, and children — in places such as Cuba where the Díaz-Canel regime continues to oppress the valiant Cuban people’s desperate pleas for an end to government repression and corruption, in China where the Chinese Communist Party continues its genocide against the Uyghurs, has annihilated Hong Kong’s freedom, and threatens Taiwan, and once again in the bloodlands of Europe as Russian President Putin’s brutal invasion of Ukraine has swept in with deadly force and terror.

When tyranny goes unchallenged and unchecked, it inevitably spreads, which is why the work of freedom fighters, past and present, is vital in maintaining stability and liberty around the world.

On the fateful day of August 23, 1939, fascist Berlin and communist Moscow signed a non-aggression agreement, known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, which paved the way for WWII, the division of Europe, and the systematic slaughter of millions of innocent lives.

Black Ribbon Day: A Symbol of Resistance

Nazi Germany was eventually defeated, but the reign of Soviet terror continued. As people began to flee the Soviet Bloc, refugees in the West inaugurated August 23 as a way to bear witness to the costs of the deadly ideologies of fascism and communism.

Black Ribbon Day soon became a symbol of resistance behind the Iron Curtain.

On August 23, 1989, two million Lithuanians, Latvians, and Estonians joined hands in a human chain across the Baltics to stand resolute against the brutal Soviet regime. Known as the “Baltic Way,” this protest was a defining moment in the Captive Nations’ fight for independence and a key event leading to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Wanda’s Story: Remembering WWII Freedom Fighters

On August 23rd, 1939, World War II started because of an alliance between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. The Nazis and their Soviet communist allies made a secret pact to divide up the nation of Poland between them as conquered territory. But brave Polish men and women like Wanda Wos Lorenc fought back against the invaders that tried to conquer their homeland.

Learn more about Wanda’s story by watching VOC’s Witness Project mini-documentary about her experience living under both fascist and communist rule.