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October 25, 1991 - Image 47

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-10-25

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

NEWS I

"Great suit. Did you
come into money?"

President Herzog Meets
With Czech Officials

Prague (JTA) — The visit
of Israeli President Chaim
Herzog to Czechoslovakia
this week, the first by an
Israeli chief of state, has had
a dual focus.
Mr. Herzog's meetings
with President Vaclav Havel
and other top officials of the
federated Czech and Slovak
republics underscored the
normalization of -relations
between their countries,
which had no diplomatic ties
until April 1990, after
Communist rule ended in
Prague.
The state visit also coin-
cided with an affirmation by
the Czechoslovak au-
thorities that Jews were in
fact the primary victims of
the Nazi genocide in their
country.
That had gone
unacknowledged during the
40 years of the Communist
regime.
The official amnesia was
discarded at two solemn
ceremonial events. A tablet
was unveiled at a location in
Prague where 45,513 Jewish
men, women and children
were forced to assemble to be
"dragged away" — in the
words of the inscription.
Their destination was
Terezin, also known as
Theresienstadt, a ghetto
about 40 miles north of
Prague which was for most
of the Jews a temporary way
station from where they
were deported to the ghetto
of Lodz in occupied Poland.
Mr. Herzog and Havel
visited Terezin, where a
small museum has been
opened as a Holocaust
memorial, long forbidden by
the Communist authorities.
At least 140,000 Jews
passed through that town
and 80,000 were murdered
between 1941 and 1945.
The memorial tablet on
the long-forgotten Prague
corner was designed by a
former concentration camp
inmate, Helga Hoskova, who
was 13 when she was
deported. It is inscribed with
the Hebrew word "yizkor"
(remembrance).
In the ceremony, the tablet
was unveiled by Prague's
deputy mayor, Jiri Exner, in
front of a Czechoslovak army
guard-of honor.
Michaela Vidlakova, who
was 6 when she was
deported from that spot,
spoke on behalf of the vic-
tims and survivors.
A memorial was held in
Terezin itself. Present were
hundreds .of other survivors

or their descendants from
various countries, as were
Herzog and Rabbi Arthur
Schneier of New York, rep-
resenting the U.S. Commis-
sion for the Preservation of
America's Heritage Abroad.
The guests heard a concert
by the American Boys Choir
from Princeton, N.J., who
sang songs fashioned from
the children's poems written
in Terezin collected in the
volume I Never Saw Another

Butterfly.
The chorus was conducted
by Cantor Charles Davidson,
chazzan of Adath Jeshurun
Congregation in Elkins
Park, Pa.
The state protocol of Mr.
Herzog's visit began when
the Israeli head of state
visited the presidential
residence in Prague to
return Mr. Havel's call on
him in Jerusalem last year.
They discussed strength-
ening relations between
their countries, prospects for
peace in the Middle East and
making available Jewish
sites and objects in
Czechoslovakia.
Mr. Havel said
Czechoslovakia is looking
forward hopefully to the pro-
posed Middle East peace
conference.
He mentioned in that con-
nection the government's
decision to halt arms exports
to the Middle East, for which
his office had an important
role.
At a news conference
afterward, Mr. Herzog said
the transit of Soviet Jews go-
ing to Israel through
Czechoslovak territory was
not on the agenda of his
talks because more conve-
nient routes are now
available.
Mr. Herzog met with
Alexander Dubcek, chair-
man of the Federal
Assembly, who was- the
Czechoslovak leader during
the Prague Spring of 1968.
Mr. Herzog addressed mem-
bers of several committees of
the Czech parliament.
With members of the for-
eign diplomatic corps atten-
ding, the Israeli president
recalled the words of Jan
Masaryk, son of Tomas
Masaryk, founder of
Czechoslovakia, who, as
minister of foreign affairs
more than 40 years ago,
said, "The foundation of a
Jewish state was one of the
greatest political ideas of our
times" and "anti-Semites
are potential murderers,
whose place is in prison."

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

47

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