27 January 2016
INTERNATIONAL HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY
Samuel Pisar March 18, 1929 - July 27, 2015
Dr Samuel Pisar, was a renowned international lawyer and author. He was Honorary Ambassador and Special Envoy for UNESCO for Holocaust and genocide education as well as Honorary Member of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation. Born in Poland, Samuel was deported at the age of 13 to Majdanek followed by Auschwitz and Dachau. He was one of the youngest survivors of the Shoah - and the only survivor of his family and his school. His books include the notable memoir “Of Blood and Hope”. "To ensure that the blood spilled became, in his words 'blood of hope', Samuel Pisar dedicated his life to the pressing task of passing down what he had experienced" – with these words he was honoured by French President Hollande on the 28th of July 2015.
Wladyslaw Bartoszewski February 19, 1922 - Arpil 24, 2015
Bartoszewski was imprisoned in the Auschwitz concentration camp from September 1940 to April 1941. He would have died in Auschwitz, were it not for his employer, the Polish Red Cross, which managed to have him released by 1941. In September 1942 Bartoszewski helped to establish a temporary committee that later became ZEGOTA, the Polish Council for the Aid to Jews. This Polish-Jewish organization managed to save many Jewish lives during the Holocaust. Bartoszewski also informed the Polish Government-in-exile in London about the atrocities committed by the Nazis.
After the collapse of the communist regime, Bartoszewski served as a Polish Ambassador, Minister of Foreign Affairs and member of the Polish Senate. Bartoszewski was a Chevalier of the Order of the White Eagle and an honorary citizen of Israel.
Sir Nicholas Winton May 19, 1909 - July 1, 2015
Sir Nicholas Winton was a British humanitarian who organized the rescue of 669 children, most of them Jewish, from Czechoslovakia on the eve of the Second World War in an operation later known as the Czech Kindertransport. Today there are around 6,000 people in the world who owe their lives to Sir Nicholas Winton.
As early as in 1939 he embarked on a challenging search for English families willing to take care of the children endangered by the war and arranged for their safe passage to Britain. He organized a total of eight trains from Prague and Vienna.
The world found out about Sir Winton over 40 years later when his story was featured in 1988 on a BBC TV programme. The British press dubbed him the "British Schindler". In 2002, Sir Winton was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to humanity. He was awarded the Wallenberg Medal in 2013 and received at the age of 105 the highest honor of the Czech Republic, the Order of the White Lion from Czech President Miloš Zeman.
Sir Nicholas Winton
Jewish Armed Resistance and Rebellions
The most famous ghetto revolt was the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. The Nazis entered the ghetto on April 19, 1943 in order to resume deportations to extermination camps. The Jews, led by the Jewish Fighting Organization, then began their revolt, bravely holding off the Germans for three weeks. Dozens of survivors managed to escape to the partisans.
Jews were also active in the Belgian and French resistance and played a considerable role in the Slovakian uprising that broke out in the summer of 1944. Most Jews who fled to the mountains of Yugoslavia joined Tito’s partisan army. Tens of thousands of Jews reached the forests of Belarus and the Ukraine; they helped to establish partisan groups and fought admirably in special Jewish units or in mixed battalions. Family camps were established in the heart of dense forests; where the fugitive Jews were fed and protected by Jewish fighters.
Rebellions also took place in the death camps. In August 1943, the uprising in Treblinka broke out. Three groups of prisoners who had been put to work burning bodies and sorting the many victims’ belongings killed some of the camp commanders and guards, and set the gas chambers and the camp barracks ablaze. In Sobibor, prisoners also rebelled and several managed to escape. In Auschwitz-Birkenau, a group of prisoners blew up one of the crematoria.
Jewish Soldiers in the Allied Armies
About 500,000 Jewish soldiers fought in the Red Army during World War II. Some 120,000 were killed in combat; the Nazis murdered 80,000 as prisoners of war. More than 160,000, at all levels of command, earned citations, with over 150 designated as the “Heroes of the Soviet Union”— the highest honor awarded to soldiers in the Red Army.
Approximately 550,000 Jewish soldiers fought in the US Armed Forces during World War II. They served on all fronts in Europe and in the Pacific. Some 10,000 were killed in combat, and more than 36,000 received citation. Many Jewish soldiers took part in liberating the camps.
Approximately 100,000 Jews fought in the Polish army against the German invasion. They composed 10% of the Polish army. Approximately 30,000 Jews fell in battle, were taken captive by the Germans, or declared missing during the battles defending Poland, 11,000 in the defense of Warsaw alone. Thousands of Jews later served in various Polish armies fighting against the Nazis in the Allied Forces.
About 30,000 Jews served in the British army in 1939-1946, some in special units of Jews from ‘Palestine’, such as the Jewish Brigade.
Address by Dr Moshe Kantor, President of the European Jewish Congress
Address by Mr Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament
Professor Agnes Heller
Professor Agnes Heller, born in Budapest, is a distinguished philosopher and Holocaust survivor who seeks to understand the nature of ethics and morality in the modern world, and the social and political systems and institutions within which evil can flourish.
In 1944 Agnes’ father was deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp where he died. Agnes and her mother managed to avoid deportation.
She spoke out vigorously for autonomy and self-determination after the suppression of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.
She gained world fame with her work on totalitarianism and her explorations of the role of civil society in democratization processes.
She is a highly influential scholar who publishes internationally-acclaimed work on ethics, aesthetics, modernity, and political theory. She has been awarded the Hannah Arendt Prize for Political Philosophy, the Szechenyi National Prize in Hungary, the Sonning Prize, and the Goethe Medal.
Download the IHRD 2016 Keynote Speech
The Busch Trio
Named after the legendary violinist Adolf Busch, this London-based young piano trio has emerged as one of the leading piano trios among the new generation, receiving enthusiastic responses from audiences and critics across the UK and Europe.
Winners of the 2012 Royal Over-Seas League Competition, the trio also won the 2nd prize and the recording prize at the 2012 Salieri-Zinetti International Chamber Music Competition. The 3rd prize at the 2013 Pinerolo International Chamber Music Competition in Italy as well as the 2nd prize at the International Schumann Chamber Music Award in Frankfurt.
They are currently soloist artists in residence at the Queen Elisabeth Chapel.
Visit the Busch Trio' website
Based in Brussels, the European Jewish Congress is the representative umbrella organisation of national Jewish communities. It federates democratically elected national Jewish community organisations in over 40 European countries uniting 2.5 million Jews across the continent.