Press Advisories

25. 6. 2009 16:37

International conference on Holocaust marks the end of the Czech Presidency

On 26 – 30 June 2009, Prague and Terezín will host the Holocaust Era Assets Conference, which should raise awareness of this dark chapter of European history and of social programmes for Nazi victims.

The event is expected to host representatives of 49 countries, Czech and foreign NGOs, experts and the media.

The gala opening of the conference on Friday 26 June at Žofín Palace in Prague will be attended by Nobel Peace Laureate Elie Wiesel, former President of the European Parliament Simone Veil and Minister for European Affairs Štefan Füle. The conference will also host former US Minister of Foreign Affairs Madeleine Albright.

On Monday 29 June, the joint statement of the Czech Presidency and the European Commission will be signed at the conference. The aim is to support the activities of the Member States in Holocaust education, social care for Holocaust survivors and care for memorial sites. On Tuesday 30 June, the Terezín Declaration will be announced in Terezín, in the presence of Prime Minister Jan Fischer. On the basis of this document, the European Shoah Legacy Institute will be established in Terezín.

“Although the conference takes place at the very end of the Czech Presidency, it is one of its most important events. Even 64 years after the end of the worst war in human history, Holocaust is not only a topic for history classes. I am glad that at a time of rising antisemitism, the European Union is ready to face this issue”, said Minister for European Affairs Štefan Füle.

According to Senator Alexandr Vondra, one of the initiators of the conference and moderator of Monday’s plenary meeting: “The Holocaust, or Shoah, was not only the largest mass murder in history, but also the greatest organised mass robbery. This conference should secure the permanent interest of the international public in the issue, including education, leading to efforts to remedy the property damage or to care for the social and medical needs of those who survived the Holocaust.”

The plenary meeting of the conference, in the presence of heads of government delegations, will take place on Monday 29 June 2009 at the Prague Congress Centre. The Czech delegation will be led by Czech Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Jan Kohout; the European Commission will be represented by Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Youth Ján Figeľ and the American delegation will be headed by former Deputy Foreign Minister Stuart Eizenstat.

The programme will include a gala concert at the Terezín Memorial (former Riding School) under the baton of the conductor of the Oregon Philharmonic Orchestra, Murry Sidlin, who will commemorate the performance of Verdi’s Requiem in the Terezín ghetto during the war.

The accompanying programme will also include the World Premiere of a Kabbalistic drama by George Whyte set to music by Noam Sheriff, “Golem 13”, and the Legacy of Shoa Film Festival, which will take place under the auspices of Ben Kingsley on 27 and 28 June in the Světozor Cinema. The festival will be attended by American director of documentaries and writer of Czech origin Zuzana Justmanová. Her documentary debut from 1989 “Terezin Diary” is inspired by diaries that she kept during her two years spent in Terezín in 1943 – 1945.

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