At an event organised by the European Jewish Congress in Brussels, over 300 people, including Members of the European Parliament, senior EU officials, ambassadors, representatives of the Jewish community and other minority groups, gathered to mark the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, pledge to fight antisemitism, and honour the memory of the victims.
On the occasion of the 85th anniversary of the Kindertransport operation, participants attended the premiere screening of the movie “One Life” at the Centre for Fine Arts, based on the true story of Sir Nicholas Winton, known for organising the rescue of 669 Czech Jewish children in the months leading up to the outbreak of World War II.
EJC Executive Vice-President Raya Kalenova welcomed the guests and said, “This year the commemoration is different. For three generations already, European Jews, whatever age they are, have the Shoah ingrained in their minds and hearts. The generation of my parents grew up mostly being orphans; my generation grew up without grandparents. This pain is still present in our young generations. Since October 7th, everything has changed for Jewish communities across the world. Hamas’s brutal massacre, the most devastating attack against the Jewish people since the Holocaust, has darkened our lives and broken our hearts. The condemnation of the worst pogrom of the 21st century is not being loud enough, giving the impression that there exists an attempt to erase this massacre from our collective memory. We cannot let this happen!”
“While it is impossible not to be sad nowadays, we are also grateful that we have allies, partners, and friends. We know that we can count on our numerous friends in the European institutions and national governments, always and also during these troubling times” expressed Ms Kalenova.
European Commission Vice-President for Values and Transparency Věra Jourová gave the opening remarks and said, “In remembering the horrors of the Holocaust, let us celebrate the people whose humanity and courage shone above darkness, such as Sir Nicholas Winton.”
“We want a European Union free from antisemitism, free from all forms of hatred, and to continue to teach the history of the Holocaust to future generations. We owe it to the Jewish people; we must not repeat the fatal mistakes that we made in the previous century” said Ms Jourová.
Member of the European Parliament and of the Working Group Against Antisemitism (WGAS) MEP Ilana Cicurel said, “After October 7th, we will never commemorate the Shoah as we used to. We are not the same as last year. International Holocaust Remembrance Day used to refer to the past. The Hamas Massacre brought these horrors to the present.”
“This movie pays tribute to those who deployed countless efforts to save children from the Nazi extermination process. Nicholas Winton was one of them. In a time when we are facing an unprecedented outburst of antisemitism in Europe, this film should engage us to celebrate and remember such positive examples.”
In his address, His Excellency Martin Shearman, the British Ambassador to Belgium, commemorated the bravery and heroism of Sir Nicholas Winton, along with acknowledging the generosity of British society in rescuing hundreds of Jewish children from the impending threat of the Nazi regime.
The film “One Life,” featuring Anthony Hopkins, Helena Bonham Carter, and Jonathan Price, recounts the story of Sir Nicholas ‘Nicky’ Winton, a London broker who, prior to World War II, saved 669 Jewish children from the
In the first three weeks of January 1939, Winton worked from a hotel in Prague, coordinating and collecting applications from parents seeking homes for their children outside of Czechoslovakia.
His determined efforts resulted in eight Kindertransport trains departing Prague, passing through Nazi territory, and safely bringing these children to the United Kingdom. Czechoslovakia was invaded by the German army on March 15, 1939, and approximately 75,000 Jews were killed by the Nazis in the country during the Holocaust.
Winton’s story remained largely unknown until the 1980s when a BBC television show revealed the full extent of his heroic efforts, making his actions public knowledge and introducing him to dozens of the rescued children.