The ceremony took place around the central piazza in Berlaymont where an exhibition featuring a group of young girls interned in the room 28 of "Mädchenheim/ girls quarters" in Theresienstadt/Terezin ghetto from 1942 to 1945, was located. The girls from room 28, around 50 of them, were present in photographs, drawings they made during their time in Theresienstadt and memories of their friends who survived until the end of the war. Only 15 girls out of 50 saw the day of liberation.
Helga Pollak-Kinsky one of the girls of "Room 28" who arrived there at the age of twelve was present at the commemoration and red from the diary she kept during her time in Theresienstadt. Upon her arrival in January 1943 she wrote: "I am lying on a mattress, squeezed in, in the middle of a three-level bunk-bed. I feel very uncomfortable". But soon enough out of anxiety, fear and discomfort rose the feeling of solidarity, trust and friendship. Even though only few girls were able to meet "on the first Sunday after the war under the Bell Tower in the Old Town Square in Prague" as they promised each other they kept their friendship across time and continents and never ceased to pass the memory of those terrible days on the young generations.
Their effort is central in "passing the important message onto those with no direct memory of Holocaust' to ensure that never again should future generations of Europeans have to experience what the girls of room 28 had to go through as Vice President Reding reminded the audience.
Robert Badinter, former French minister of Justice and human rights advocate engaged in the abolition of capital punishment underlined in his speech that "the memory of Jewish genocide remains essential to the European civilisation" and that we need to remain vigilant to any emerging signs of anti-Semitism and other forms of racism.
The "Room 28 project" guardian spirit Hannelore Brenner-Wonschick prepared a special cultural programme for the occasion of the commemoration which included live reading from Helga Pollak-Kinsky's diary, a book on room 28 and music from the original Theresienstadt "Zwockhaus cabaret".
After the event Vice President Reding together with Helga Pollak-Kinsky visited the re-created room 28 to learn more about Helga's and the other girls' plight in Theresienstadt.
More about "Room 28" project is available at: www.room28.net
Train 1000 project: www.traindes1000.be
A photo report is available on the Audiovisual portal: Holocaust Remembrance Day (P-022602)