The Victims of Communism Foundation's Blog

Why We Commemorate Black Ribbon Day

Why We Commemorate Black Ribbon Day


Today marks Black Ribbon Day, also known as the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism. The date coincides with the signing in 1939 of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, a non-aggression pact between the international socialists of the Soviet Union and the national socialists of Nazi Germany. Included among its terms was a protocol creating Soviet and Nazi spheres of influence in Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania.

The consequences of the agreement were both swift and lasting.

As Ian Johnson has explained previously on Dissident, the Second World War began less than 10 days later, with Nazi forces invading Poland from the west on September 1, while Soviet forces invaded from the east on September 17. Soviets and Nazis alike promptly exterminated anyone who might resist them.

While the pact only lasted until June 22, 1941—when the Nazis launched Operation Barbarossa, invading the Soviet Union with three million troops—its results lasted for 50 years. The Nazi sphere of influence was eliminated with their total defeat at the end of the Second World War. The murderous repression characteristic of Nazi rule, however, continued within the expanded Soviet sphere of influence. In those areas seized by the Soviets, the murderers merely wore different uniforms. Not until the final collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 would state-sponsored terrorism against Soviet subjects come to an end.

Unlike in the case of the Nazis, however, there has yet to be a comprehensive reckoning of all of the past Soviet crimes. Moreover, in Putin’s Russia we see concerted efforts to reclaim Soviet glory and to justify Soviet repression and mass murder. Now more than ever it is imperative the world recognize the fundamentally and necessarily evil character of socialist systems. Just as we would rightly reject the contention that national socialism was simply improperly implemented, so too we should reject the same assertion in the case of international socialism. No experiment in government has been run more often in more places at different times and under different conditions while leading every time to the same results—death, depravity, degeneration, and degradation of the human soul and the natural environment alike.