Czechia honors International Holocaust Remembrance Day with illuminations and dance

Today marks the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp, where tens of thousands died during the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia.

Ioana Caloianu

Written by Ioana Caloianu Published on 27.01.2023 14:05:00 (updated on 27.01.2023) Reading time: 3 minutes

The Czech Republic will honor Czechoslovak victims of the Holocaust on Friday, Jan. 27 with a number of commemorative events, including exhibitions and dance performances. 

Among the most poignant remembrances will be the illumination of a Prague building that served as a deportation site for thousands of Czech Jews.

Exhibitions dedicated to the memory of Holocaust victims

As part of the commemorative event #WeRemember, the façade of Mama Shelter Hotel on Veletržní Street in Prague's Holešovice district will be symbolically lit today between 5 and 11 p.m. The event is a collaboration between Signal Festival and the Jewish Federation of the Jewish Communities of the Czech Republic.

Czech Jews were gathered here before being sent to nearby Bubný train station to be deported to the Terezín concentration camp located 65 kilometers from Prague. A commemorative plaque on the façade of the building reads in Czech "In memory of over 80,000 Czech Jews murdered in the years 1941–1945, 45,513 men, women, and children were transported from this site." A Hebrew inscription says "We will remember."

The Bubný station has since been transformed into a cultural space where ongoing events, organized by the Prague Shoah Memorial, have offered a critical reflection on this complex history.

Photo of memorial plaque commemorating Prague transport (Raymond Johnston).
Photo of memorial plaque commemorating Prague transport (Raymond Johnston).

The Invisible Synagogues is a project of photographer Štěpán Bartoš, who documented hundreds of places in the Czech Republic where synagogues formerly stood. In addition to a photo gallery at the Exil Theater in Pardubice, the exhibition is also available in digital form on its website.

The Theater of the Memory of the Nation, together with the students of the Prague Dance Conservatory will offer a performance titled "Memory is us: Highway No. 19" tonight at the House of the Stone Bell (Dům U Kamenného zvonu). The performance, which speaks about the Roma Holocaust, will also be held on Jan. 31.

Official events taking place today

The presidents of both chambers of Parliament, Miloš Vystrčil and Markéta Pekarová Adamová, as well as the former prisoner of the Nazi extermination camp Auschwitz-Březinka, Dita Krausová, will speak in the Senate, according to ČTK.  

Another event dedicated to Holocaust victims and the prevention of crimes against humanity will take place at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with the participation of ambassadors, the diplomatic corps, and representatives of international and Jewish organizations in the Czech Republic. Speakers include Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský and Holocaust survivor Michaela Vidláková. 

In the city of Ústí nad Labem, representatives of the city management and the Jewish community, together with the Consul of the Embassy of the State of Israel in the Czech Republic Emmanuel Amar laid yesterday eight Stolpersteine to commemorate deported members of the Jewish community, according to Ústecký deník.

Stolperstein (plural Stolpersteine) translates from German as “stumbling stone.” They memorialize people who were persecuted and murdered during the Nazi regime and are part of an art project conceived by German artist Gunter Demnig in 1993.

What is Holocaust Remembrance Day?

  • The International Holocaust Remembrance Day, or the International Day in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, commemorates the day of Jan. 27, 1945, when the Soviet Red Army liberated the Auschwitz concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.
  • Historians estimate that between 1940 and 1945, around 1.1 million people lost their lives in Auschwitz.
  • While most of them were Jews, thousands were also Romani women, men and children, detained in the so-called Gypsy family camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau.
  • Only 6,000 out of around 50,000 Czechoslovak citizens detained at Auschwitz survived.
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