The traditional Terezín Commemoration was held in the National Cemetery in front of the Small Fortress in Terezín on May 15, 2022. Unlike the two previous years, when one commemoration had to be cancelled and one moved to a September date due to the Covid-19 epidemic, this year the event could take place at its planned and traditional term, the third Sunday in May.
The Commemoration links up to the legacy of what is known as the Oath of Buchenwald pledged in 1945 by the liberated inmates of the Buchenwald concentration camp. Its core was their declaration that remembrance of the war events shall not cease until the destruction of Nazism, down to its roots.
The Terezín Memorial organizes this event in conjunction with the Ústí Region, Terezín Municipality, the Federation of Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic and the Terezín Initiative. Mr. Martin Baxa, the Czech Minister of Culture, took over the auspices of this year´s Terezín Commemoration.
Before the commemoration began, from 9 a.m. at the former execution ground in the former Gestapo Police Prison in the Small Fortress act of piety to honor the victims of the last execution, which took place at the end of the WWII, on May 2nd, 1945. Except for constitutional officers and representatives of various institutions, also students of the Uherské Hradiště High School with their teacher Miroslava Poláková came to Terezín to attend. This was already the second act organized for the honoring the memory of these executed. First one was hold by ČSBS organisation at the former execution site in the Small Fortress on May 2nd, 2022.
The Commemoration began at 10:00 a.m. by laying flowers and wreaths. After the Czech national anthem sung by Jana Červenková, all the participants were greeted by Terezín Memorial Director Jan Roubínek. The keynote speech was delivered by Speaker of the Senate of the Czech Republic Miloš Vystrčil, followed by an address presented by Hana Sternlichtová, a former Terezín Ghetto inmate who was liberated as a 15-year girl at the end of the war in the Mauthausen concentration camp. She had lost both her parents on the way through the camps.
Their words were followed by a Christian and Jewish prayer and the Commemoration ended with a musical performance by a girls´ singing ensemble Modrásci from Litoměřice.
March of the Living Scroll – Journey of Remembrance and Renewal
The program of this year´s Terezín Commemoration was supplemented by other major events. One of them was the March of the Living Scroll – A Journey of Remembrance and Renewal and the ceremony of presenting a Torah scroll from the Memorial Scrolls Trust to the Director of Beit Terezin, Tami Kinberg. This exceptional ceremony took place in the Wieser house in Terezín in the afternoon.
The event was staged in cooperation of several organizations, namely the Memorial Scrolls Trust, Beit Theresienstadt, International March of Living, B’nai B’rith International, the Terezín Memorial and the Jewish Museum in Prague.
The Torah scroll, now kept in Beit Terezín in Israel, ranks among those that had been saved from destruction during the time of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia at the then newly founded Jewish Central Museum in Prague. Many of those scrolls had been returned to the restored Jewish communities after the war but during the first years of the communist regime in this country many Jewish communities disappeared and Torahs were once again moved to the collections of the Jewish Museum in Prague. Some 1,564 scrolls had been sold and taken to London in the 1960s. It was the Memorial Scrolls Trust that began looking after the scrolls. Those Torah scrolls that were found in good condition or could be repaired are now being loaned to museums, memorials and Jewish congregations all over the world.
The ceremony of presenting the scroll was preceded in the morning by a march with the Torah, setting off from the train station in Bohušovice nad Ohří to Terezín. This journey actually copied the route dozens of thousands deportees to the Terezín Ghetto had to take during World War II.
The festive program was concluded with a concert called “Why Is the World Silent?” featuring Norwegian singer Bente Kahan accompanied by Adam Skrzypka. Bente Kahan sang a musicalized poem composed by former Ghetto inmate Ilse Weber. The concert was organized by the Institute of Terezín Composers in association with the Terezín Memorial.
Based on a Terezín Memorial press release
You will find more information on the Second Life of the Czech Torah Scrolls on the web pages of the Jewish Museum in Prague at this address: https://www.jewishmuseum.cz/en/program-and-education/temporary-exhibits/traveling-exhibitions/257/the-second-life-of-czech-torah-scrolls/