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Monday 25 January: Commission Vice President Margaritas Schinas to meet (virtually) with Irish Holocaust survivor Tomi Reichental
On Monday afternoon, 25 January, European Commission Vice-President Margaritas Schinas (responsible for the fight against antisemitism among other things) will have a 40-minute conversation with Irish Holocaust survivor Tomi Reichental. This event is being jointly hosted by the European Commission and the European Jewish Congress.
The interview will be broadcast live on the Facebook page of the European Jewish Congress at 3pm: https://www.facebook.com/Eurojewcong.
It can also be followed on Zoom. Register at: https://eurojewcong-org.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_dnECKdVrRpertUm6o1T_2Q
In advance of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Wednesday 27 January, Vice-President Margaritis Schinas will speak to concentration camp survivor Tomi Reichental about the lessons of the Holocaust for 21st century Europe, new forms of remembrance, concepts of atonement and reconciliation, and our common duty to speak up and counter Holocaust denial and distortion.
As the number of Holocaust survivors is dwindling every year, we need to hear the direct witnesses and listen to their first-hand accounts of the Holocaust for as long as we can. Remembering their stories and finding new ways to transmit their testimonies to future generations is our obligation. Teaching the history of the Holocaust and learning the facts will help to create resilience in society against antisemitism and racism.
Tomáš Reichental spent almost a year as a child in Bergen Belsen camp. At age 84, he continues to be haunted by childhood memories from one of Germany’s most notorious concentration camps. His most vivid memory is that of his grandmother’s dead body being thrown unceremoniously onto a pile of corpses.
Born in the former Czechoslovakia in 1935, he was arrested in 1944 and taken to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. He lost over 30 family members in the Holocaust. In 1959, he moved to Ireland but it took him 55 years before he started speaking about what he had witnessed.
The documentary “Close to Evil” recalls his will for reconciliation with his former guard at Bergen-Belsen camp. While filming, he was contacted by the granddaughter of Hans Ludin, one of Hitler’s inner circle, who signed off the deportation orders for Slovakia’s Jews. Reichental has since developed a warm friendship with this descendant of a SS man.
Tomi Reichental has given talks in secondary schools, colleges and at various other events. He is seen as one of the most inspirational figures in modern Ireland. He has made tireless efforts to ensure that the themes of remembrance, forgiveness, conflict resolution and reconciliation are kept to the forefront.