On Wednesday, April 19 2023, the Final Conference of the international “Never Forget” project, was organized in the Čakovec Cultural Center. This is the first project in Međimurje County that was financed from the CERV Program (Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values).
The Jewish Municipality of Čakovec in partnership with the Municipality of Lendava and the Jewish Cultural Heritage Center of the Maribor Synagogue conducted the project.
The final conference was attended by Andrej Matjašec, the representative of Lendava Municipality, Anne Thomas, international coordinator of the Gunter Demnig Foundation, Boris Hadinjak, director of the Center for Jewish Cultural Heritage Maribor Synagogue, Dr. Ognjen Kraus, President of the Coordination of Jewish Communities of the Republic of Croatia, chief rabbi Luciano Moše Prelević, the heroines of the book and film “Just a Number” Alice Singer and Gertruda Preis Hur as well as the family of Artur Rosner.
The event was also attended by the Ambassador of the State of Israel to the Republic of Croatia, Gary Koren, along with the Hungarian Ambassador to the Republic of Croatia, Csaba Demscák, the Ambassador of the Republic of Slovenia to the Republic of Croatia, Gašper Dovžan, the representative of the Minister of Foreign and European Affairs and the Head of the Croatian delegation to the IHRA, Lara Romano, as well as Snježana Šincek, the representative of the IHRA Co-Chairs and a member of the Croatian delegation to the IHRA.
The Program began with the laying of 28 stumbling stones (Stolpersteine) at six addresses in the heart of Čakovec, commemorating the names and lives of the people who once lived there.
The results of the “Never Forget” project were presented by Dr. Andrej Pal, President of the Jewish Municipality of Čakovec. A number of activities were carried out, but the one that stood out was the study visit of teachers from Međimurje county to Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum.
The Jewish Community of Čakovec, with the support of the Croatian Ministry of Science and Education, organized a study visit to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum for 35 History, Ethics and Croatian Language and Literature teachers from Međimurje County. The teachers from Međimurje visited the complex on 25 March 2023.
This form of field teaching corresponds to the specific goals of the international project “Never Forget” of the Jewish Community of Čakovec and its Slovenian partners from Lendava and Maribor. The activities of the project focus on education about the consequences of antisemitism, remembrance of Holocaust victims in Croatia and Slovenia and enhancing public awareness on the Holocaust. Dedication to these topics connects the “Never Forget” project with the Croatian Presidency of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).
“This study visit is an excellent example of the focus of the IHRA’s activities, whose aim is to protect the facts of the Holocaust and get state leaderships to support Holocaust education, research and remembrance. The teachers have already announced that they will present to their colleagues and students what they saw and experienced in Auschwitz. This is a clear indication of the importance of study visits for the continuous process of advancing knowledge and enhancing teachers’ approach to the educational process,” stressed Dr. Andrej Pal, the Community’s President.
Another important result of the project is the publication of the book “Just a Number” and the production of the documentary film of the same name. The book and film bring together testimonies of six Jews from Čakovec and Varaždin whose families perished in the Holocaust. Author Mirjam Despinić-Biškup and cameraman Zoran Fras shared their experiences with the audience.
The final conference of the “Never Forget” project is an excellent example of the focus of the IHRA’s activities, whose aim is to protect the facts of the truth of the Holocaust and make policy makers more involved in Holocaust education, research and remembrance. One of the main goals of the project is to develop a culture of remembrance for the victims of the Holocaust in Croatia and Slovenia and to establish cooperation between project partners in order to raise public awareness of the Holocaust, common history and common values within the European Union.