Brno – The topic of the Holocaust remains alive and challenging in families with Jewish roots decades after the Second World War. It is difficult for families to talk about the specific experiences of people who survived concentration camps, but according to them, society needs information – to prevent the return of totalitarianism and prejudiced hatred. The representative of four generations of Jewish families, who performed together today at the Štetl festival in Brno, also unites resistance against the current dictatorships.
Ninety-four-year-old Karel Ellinger, who went through several concentration camps, including Auschwitz and Dachau, did not want to talk about his experiences for a long time, especially not with his mother, who lost her second son to the Holocaust. “I didn’t tell her what I experienced at all. I have seen so many dead. I myself survived just barely, actually by accident,” he said.
Later, however, he focused his efforts on discussions with the public in order to pass on his experience and be able to warn against all dictatorships, the common feature of which is disrespect for human life. The legacy of communist totality is also criticized. “They still send people to concentration camps in Siberia. And I know what it is to do somewhere in the cold,” said Ellinger. It scares him that even in the 21st century, similar things are happening in the world as during the Second World War, whether because of faith or nationality.
The current chairman of the Jewish community of Brno, Jáchym Kanarek, was born after the war, but his relatives experienced the concentration camps. “There were people all around who had a tattooed number,” recalled Kanarek as a representative of the second generation after the Holocaust. It is said that the father spoke little about what he had experienced. Kanarek himself can hardly imagine that he would one day tell his grandchildren about the horrors of the Shoah.
However, the mediated experience of the Holocaust affects his view of current events, for example the war in Ukraine and the plight of refugees. “When you see people coming from Ukraine, you perceive it differently after all. You certainly won’t say to yourself, ‘Wasn’t the help enough?'” said Kanarek.
Iva Vlčková, from the third generation after the Holocaust, also perceives the historical experience of the Jews as a warning for the future. “The danger is still here, the effort to separate someone, to limit freedoms,” she said.
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Ninth grader Ester Aylin Yildizová knows the story of the Jews from family tradition, but also from literature. She is said to have been most affected by the book memories My Long Silence by Brno journalist Erika Bezdíčková, who died two years ago. “After reading it, I understood what actually happened – and that it wasn’t long ago at all,” she said.
Although she herself belongs to the fourth generation after the Holocaust and has, in addition to Jewish, Turkish roots, she too encountered manifestations of anti-Semitism. She is said to have been yelled at by her classmates during a paper on religion. Just kidding, but it wasn’t funny to her. On the contrary, it hit her hard.
He sees ignorance and a lack of information behind similar manifestations. It is said that children her age do not learn much about the Holocaust in schools. According to her, festivals like Štetl are all the more important. This year it is held for the first time, it started on Friday, it will end on Sunday. Its motto is Dignity in Diversity.
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Author: ČTK Date: September 4, 2022 Photo: Wikimedia Commons – illustrative