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The European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Totalitarian Regimes – Warsaw, 23 August 2011

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On 23 August 2011 the European Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Totalitarian Regimes was celebrated in Warsaw for the first time. The celebrations, organized by the Ministry of Justice and the Institute of National Remembrance, were held in Warsaw Rising Museum, under the auspices of the Polish Presidency.

Prior to signing the “Warsaw Declaration” on initiatives to prevent promoting totalitarian regimes (Warsaw Declaration - PDF), the participants listened to the speech delivered by the IPN’s President, Dr. Łukasz Kamiński. - The first and the utmost task is to punish the perpetrators of crimes. In the case of the Nazi regime the numbers might be impressive at the first glance – thousands of criminals were convicted in numerous trials in several dozens of countries. Yet, if we compare these numbers with the scale of crimes committed and the victims we will clearly see that only a slight percentage of the criminals was punished. In the case of communist crimes the percentage is even lower. The reasons for such situation are numerous. In many cases there were no witnesses (also because, sometimes, there were all killed), the evidence had been destroyed, and few perpetrators confessed to the crimes. The tortures could exercise the rights, of which they deprived the victims. Undoubtedly it was and still is an expression of our moral superiority over them. This does not change the pain of the victims and their loved ones, when, for various formal reasons, the trial ended in acquittal, or abnormally low sentence - said Dr. Łukasz Kamiński, the President of the Institute of National Remembrance during the conference (text of the speech - PDF).

At the invitation of the Institute of National Remembrance, the following guests participated in the ceremonies:

  • Dr. Chantal Kesteloot, Centre for Historical Research and Documentation on War and Contemporary Society, Belgium
  • Valeri Katsunov, The Committee for Disclosing and Announcing Affiliation of Bulgarian Citizens to the State Security and the Intelligence Services of the Bulgarian National Army, Bulgaria
  • Dr. Pavel Žáček, Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes, Czech Republic
  • Miroslav Lehký, Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes, Czech Republic
  • Dr. Neela Winkelmann, Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes, Czech Republic
  • Toomas Hiio, Estonian Institute of Historical Memory, Estonia
  • Marcel Floor, Head of Department of Victims and Remembrance WWII Ministry of Health, Welfare, and Sport, Holland
  • Prof. Marjan Schwegman, Institute for War Documentation, Holland
  • Dr. Edwin Klijn, Institute for War Documentation, Holland
  • Teresė Birutė Burauskaitė, Lithuanian Center for Genocide and Resistance Movement Research, Lithuania
  • Ronaldas Račinskas, International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania, Lithuania 
  • Andris Šillers, Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, Latvia
  • Joachim Förster, Federal Commissioner for the Records of the State Security Service of the Former German Democratic Republic, Germany   
  • Damiana Otoiu, Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes and the Memory of the Romanian Exile, Romania
  • Matej Medvecky, Nation's Memory Institute, Slovakia
  • Andreja Valič, Study Centre of National Reconciliation, Slovenia
  • Mária Schmidt, House of Terror Museum, Hungary
  • Dr. János Tischler, Węgierski Instytut Kultury w Warszawie, Hungary

The European Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Totalitarian Regimes - Additional Information

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