Terezin - A courageous step and a hand offering gesture, this is how Czech Freedom Fighters head Jaroslav Vodicka appreciated German President Joachim Gauck´s recent visit to the former wartime Jewish ghetto in Terezin at a meeting in commemoration of the victims of Nazism today.
Vzpomínka na oběti nacistické perzekuce Terezínská tryzna se konala 1. května v Terezíně na Litoměřicku. ČTK Hájek Ondřej
The annual event at the Terezin National Cemetery was attended by hundreds of people including Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD).
"We appreciate the gesture President Gauck has made. He recalled the dark chapters from his nation´s history, which proves his high moral credit," Vodicka said in his speech in Terezin today.
He described Gauck´s stand as an accommodating gesture aimed towards the future.
The past must be left to historians, "as we cannot change it any more," Vodicka added.
Sobotka said Terezin "was a limbo from where people departed to death. Now, too, it is necessary to remember how far the otherwise civilised and educated European societies may go if they replace their social coherence and international cooperation efforts with uncontrollable outburst of nationalism, hatred and industrial extermination practices," Sobotka said.
He said the present generation is hugely lucky to live in a period when the European integration has eliminated the evil of bloody conflicts between European nations.
Nevertheless, the dark past must be still remembered, he emphasised.
Commemorative meetings at the Terezin National Cemetery are annually held on the third Sunday of May to honour the memory of those who suffered in the Nazi repressive facilities in Terezin (Theresienstadt), i.e. the Jewish ghetto, the Gestapo prison and a nearby concentration camp.
Between 1941 and 1945, the Nazis interned 155,000 Jews from all over Europe in the Terezin ghetto. Out of them, 117,000 did not live to see the end of the war.
Of the total of 32,000 people who were gradually interned in the local Gestapo prison, 2,600 were executed or died there. The last executions took place on May 2, 1945, six days before the liberation of Terezin.