Marking the Holocaust

27-01-2009

The Czech Republic has been marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which comes on the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in occupied Poland. Numerous events have been taking place across the country and in Prague in particular. Dominik Jůn spoke with Zuzana Tlášková of the Jewish Museum in Prague to find out more.

“Today is the day of remembrance for the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp and there are a lot of events that are commemorating this day. One event was in the Czech senate between 10 and 12 in the morning, with many survivors from the Holocaust being invited there. At six in the evening, there is a concert at the Spanish synagogue in Prague to remember the composers that were interned at the Terezín ghetto. And for the last two weeks, along with the United Nations information centre in Prague, we have been doing lectures for students about the Holocaust.”

Obviously as the years go by, the memory of the Holocaust fades, and the last survivors pass away. So do you think that Czechs are forgetting about this period in history?

Spanish synagogueSpanish synagogue “I don’t think so. We still have a few survivors that are with us and they can talk about the things that had to endure during World War II. After they are no longer with us, I still hope that we will be able to remember and not forget what happened during that time with the Jewish people in the concentration camps.”

How would you assess Jewish-Czech relations at the moment? Are there any tensions – obviously there are anti-Semitic incidents now and again.

“Of course there are the kinds of Neo-Nazi activities in this country like there are in other countries. But I think that the most important thing that we can do is to do lectures, cultural programmes and other activities regarding the Holocaust – this is the only way that we can fight with them. We must show that we will never forget and never give them an opportunity to assert falsehoods about this period in history.”

These days one hears the word “Holocaust” used with regards to various conflicts -most notably the recent Israeli-Gaza conflict, with perhaps both sides engaging in a war of perceptions. Do you think that sometimes that the term “Holocaust” is overused and even cheapened in this sense?

“I don’t think that it is a good idea to use this word with regards to the conflict in Israel, because in my opinion it is something completely different and it is not wise to suggest that they are the same.”

27-01-2009