From Generation to Generation – Agnes Tomašovová

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Author: Josef Čermák

Towards the end of last October, I attended in the North York Centre for the Arts – at the invitation of my friend, Ladislav P. Kozak, the pastor of the Slovak Lutheran Evangelical Church in Toronto, who seems to have friends everywhere – a festive occasion: the inauguration of this year’s “Holocaust Education Week”. There must have been at least one thousand of us, the majority, of course, Jewish. We listened to an outstanding musical program and good speeches, but the evening belonged to seven remarkable people, who witnessed the horrors of the Nazi regime and bore witness of it. The evening was organized by the Azrieli Foundation established in 2005 to collect, preserve and share the memoirs and diaries written by those who survived Nazism and found a new home in Canada, and share their testimony with the largest possible number of people (the books written by the survivors are distributed free of charge to libraries, educational institutions and Holocaust-education programs across Canada and given to everyone who participates in the Foundation’s activities. Continue reading

Alice Herz Sommer: Thanks to music I am still alive today…

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Author: Martina Roe

A few days ago I set off with my son to visit Alice Herz Sommer in her very cosy and modest flat in Belsize Park in North London and made an exclusive interview with her for readers of Plus. It was a few days before her 107th birthday.

Alice is currently the oldest Holocaust survivor and the second oldest Czech woman. Despite her age she welcomes several visitors each day into her flat who come to share her memories and life experiences. During my 40-minute stay she welcomed three more visitors from a young writer, visitor from Prague and another local lady who also survived her stay in a concentration camp. Till present day, Alice plays the piano for three hours a day and her flatmates say that living in the same block of flats as Alice means that they can listen to lovely piano recitals each day for free. Even passersby stop by Alice’s window and listen to her playing beautiful music. Alice loves to play Smetana and Dvořák, but her favourite is Beethoven. Alice assigns her longevity to optimism. Continue reading

A Historical Journey in Memory of a Heroic Act (Historická jízda v upomínku na hrdinský čin)

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Exactly 70 years ago hundreds of mostly Jewish Czechoslovak children were saved from their eminent deaths in Nazi concentration camps. All of them and their descendants owe their lives to one man, a Briton named Sir Nicholas Winton, who organized the Winton Train rescue mission from the Czech Republic to Great Britain. Winton, who just recently celebrated his 100th birthday, did not speak about his heroic act for 50 years. Thanks to his wife, the rest of the world could learn about the rail “Czech Kindertransports” that he organized at the outbreak of World War II in 1939. The steam train transport reenactment, with some of the now-elderly “Winton children”, brought lots of emotions and awareness to the rest of the world and reminded everybody that even one person’s heroic act can have a great impact on the lives of many others. Continue reading

Jakub Cermin – a Political Prisoner and a Symbol of Freedom and Humanity (Jakub Čemin – politický vězeň a symbol svobody a humanity)

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The number of people with deep national values and knowledge of Czech and Slovak history over the last half century is shrinking. One of the people that fell in this small margin of the Czech and Slovak population just passed away. Jakub Cermin (May 2nd, 1917 – August 27th, 2009), the former head of the Freedom Fighters, could really say a lot about his life experiences. As a matter of fact, he wrote hundreds of articles reflecting his memories, feelings, views, and hopes about our nation. His blindness, towards the end of his life, however, did not stop him as he still continued in sacrificing his life and dignity for our liberty until his passing. Continue reading

The Unforgettable Obliteration of Lidice (Nezapomenutelné vyhlazení Lidic)

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June 10th has been a sad day of remembrance in the history of the Czech village Lidice since the year 1942. The story still touches many people, even though it happened more than 60 years ago. On that day Nazis murdered Lidice men and boys over the age of 15 years old. The Women and girls were sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp and about 100 children were sent to Gneisenau concentration camp, where only some of them later ended up in Nazi orphanages. Others were killed or died due to poor health. The village physically disappeared and was erased in German maps. The tragic act happened based on a false accusation that some Lidice residents were involved in the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich; also known as “the man with the iron hearth.” Continue reading