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

Three Reasons to Read Karel Capek’s Work (Tři Důvody ke Čtení Děl od Karla Čapka)

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K. Čapek

Karel Capek (1890 – 1938) was a Czech writer, political thinker, and philosopher that was known around the world. You have probably heard about him as an “inventor” of the word “Robot.” He was not only known for his resistance against the Nazis but also the Communists and always promoted a free and democratic Czechoslovakia. His work and pure democratic beliefs are just two of many reasons to read his great books that have been translated into many other languages. You may also find another reason to read his books – it has been 70 years since his death and anybody is able to freely publish his books, making them even more available to the world.

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The Best Christmas Gift – An Auschwitz Survivor Story (Nejlepsi Vanocní Darek – Pribeh Zeny co Prezila Osvetim)

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It has been more than half a century since World War II ended. There are fewer and fewer people in the world that can describe what they experienced during these tough times. Stories about German concentration camps are almost forgotten or even dismissed as exaggerated or even fabricated. One Czechoslovak Jewish citizen lives today to tell you that the camps existed and her tattoo with her ID number remains as a reminder of her traumatic experience. Her name is Alice and she moved to the USA along with her children that are now in their 50s. This year they spent Christmas separately but Alice was still present in a way – they watched her interview named “Shoah” (Holocaust) that describes her experiences prior, during, and after her stay at the Auschwitz concentration camp.

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Unforgettable Sir Nicholas Winton (Nezapomenutelny Sir Nicholas Winton)

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Have you seen the film All My Loved Ones? If so, you could see Sir Nicholas Winton. Sir Nicholas George Winton, born 19th May 1909, saved 669 Czechoslovak Jewish children from death in the World War II. The operation was known as “Kindertransport.”

Winton had a special relationship with the Jewish children because he was a Jew, who was baptized and raised a Christian. While Winton saved many children, he never applauded himself for this act or shared details about this operation. His wife actually found detailed information on the Kindertransport late in the 90s.

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The US Radar Base Talks Bring CZ Tank Back Home (Diskuze o US Radarove Zakladne Prinasi Cesky Tank Zpet Domu)

Between the two world wars, Czechoslovakia was one of the Europe’s most industrialized countries and one of the world’s biggest arms producers. The LT-35 light tank was the most cutting-edge weapon in its category. It was admired by Nazis during World War II and also by Americans after the war. Now, it is coming back to the Czech Republic from the United States thanks to the Czech Defense Minister Vlasta Parkanova, who negotiated its transport within the framework of US radar-base talks in the United States in July.

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Hasal’s Family Priceless Gift (Nedocenitelny Dar Hasalovy Rodiny)

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On September 4th, our Czech Ambassador in Washington, D.C. Petr Kolar, held a ceremony at which Dagmar White, daughter of General Antonin Hasal (1893 – 1960), donated her father’s WWII uniform to the permanent collection of the Military History Institute in Prague. This generous gift showed how much this family is still connected to the Czech Republic, Antonin Hasal’s home country.


General Hasal was born in 1893 in the Austro-Hungarian town Nova Hut pod Nizborem. During World War I, he was called to serve in the Austro-Hungarian Army but he decided to volunteer for the Czechoslovak legion in Russia. He returned to Czechoslovakia as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1920 and later he became Lieutenant General.

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