Czechs and Slovaks discover the truth about the holocaust together

Vrba Wetzler Memorial 2015On Wednesday 26 August 2015, leading experts on holocaust history and renowned intellectuals from Slovakia and the Czech Republic will meet at Stanica Cultural Centre in Zilina. At the international conference and interdisciplinary seminar they will discuss topics concerning the resistance and effort of the Jews to inform the world about the genocide and their message for the present day.

The public scientific conference is the culmination of the Vrba-Wetzler Memorial March that follows in the footsteps of the best known Auschwitz refugees, who informed the world about the Jewish genocide during World War II.

The participants of the nearly 130-kilometer-long march will arrive in Zilina from Oświęcim on the eve of the conference. In the presence of Rudolf Vrba’s wife Gerta and their daughter Ruby, they will unveil a memorial plaque on the building of the former Jewish retirement home on Hollého Street, where Vrba and Wetzler wrote their report about the Jewish genocide.


“The march, the conference, and the seminar are an activist-academic contribution of the Czechs and Slovaks to coming to terms with our past and the interpretation of an undistorted historical memory,” said Fedor Blaščák, one of the conference organisers.

The accompanying programme will take place on the eve of the conference in New Synagogue in Zilina, where Jewish songs from the Central European region will be performed by Mojše Band, and the participants will present their authentic experience from this year’s march to the public. The programme of the event can be found on

Andrej Kiska, the President of the Slovak Republic, has also sent his speech to the participants of the march and the conference. In the speech he emphasized that “it is particularly important for the social health to cherish the memory in the minds and hearts of the present-day people, and to reflect the events of that time at the conference and the seminar.”


During the conference, the latest historical findings will be revealed, clarifying the stories of the people who fled concentration camps with the motivation to inform the world about the genocide. Besides the circumstances concerning the escape of two Slovak Jews Rudolf Vrba and Alfréd Wetzler and the fate of their report, the papers and discussions of the historians will also deal with the lesser-known Jewish death camp refugees, such as Dionýz Lenárd, Ladislav Junger or Czeslaw Mordovicz and Arnošt Rosin.

“Auschwitz is a memento, and Vrba and Wetzler represent a model of human behaviour in critical situations - the behaviour of fighters who refused to act as passive victims. The memory of their history demonstrates that not to stand up to evil means to open the door to it,” wrote the Memorial founder Fedor Gál about its origin.


After the scientific conference, an interdisciplinary seminar will take place at Stanica in the presence of renowned intellectuals from the Czech Republic and Slovakia, who will reflect together cherishing the memory of the holocaust.

Both the Vrba-Wetzler Memorial and the conference are the common project of the Czech branch of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ CZ), Milan Simecka Foundation, Institute of History of SAS and Stanica Zilina-Zariecie Cultural Centre.

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