Each year on August 22, the European Union pays tribute to the victims of all totalitarian regimes and recalls with sorrow the terrible consequences of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, signed on 23 August 1939 by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

According to a joint statement by by First Vice-President Frans Timmermans and Commissioner Věra Jourová, the Pact plunged Europe even deeper into one of its darkest periods. Millions of people were murdered, and generations of fellow Europeans scarred.

“It is our duty to preserve the names of the millions persecuted, and keep their memories alive,” reads the joint statement. “Especially because today, 79 years later, our common values of human dignity, fundamental rights, rule of law and democracy are challenged again by extremist, nationalist and divisive rhetoric.

“By guarding and passing on the memory of past atrocities to the next generation of Europeans, we help to inoculate ourselves against repeating them, and we recall the importance of defending the human rights of every European,” they added.

“We must continue to tell the story of what happened in Europe’s past, so that we do not make the same mistakes in the future.”