Historian and deputy director of the Terezín Memorial Vojtěch Blodig received the French Order of the Legion of Honor. February 28, 2023, Prague.
Prague – Today, historian Vojtěch Blodig received the Order of the Legion of Honor from the hands of the French ambassador in Prague, Alexis Duterte. He received the highest French state award for his long-term efforts in mapping and commemorating the history of the Holocaust and building the memorial in Terezín, whose deputy director has been Blodig for many years.
“You created a museum in Terezín and breathed its soul into it,” Dutertre said. “Terezín has a strong place in European history,” added the ambassador, recalling that during the Second World War, 140,000 Jews were deported to the concentration camp in Terezín. French poet Robert Desnos also died in Terezín, the ambassador added.
Dutertre also highlighted the importance of the memorial for spreading enlightenment and educating the youngest generation. This is especially important nowadays, when mystification is again spreading not only about history, he added.
Blodig did not hide his emotion when taking over the order, he thanked them and recalled the events in Terezín shortly after the revolution in 1989. “Many of the city's residents, with whom I spoke at the time, had no idea that there was a ghetto for Jews during the occupation,” said Blodig. On all the information boards in Terezín, the historian missed the word “Jew”.
The museum in its new form was opened in 1991, today it offers exhibitions on the history of the city and the ghetto. It emphasizes education and organizes numerous programs for the youth. Blodig thanked his colleagues, family and all partners who support and finance the development of the museum.
Today, the ceremonial act in the Buquoy Palace on the Malá Strana was watched by numerous figures of the Jewish community, including the chairman of the Prague Jewish community František Bánya and chief regional rabbi Karol Sidon.
The Legion of Honor is France's highest state decoration, awarded by decree of the French President for outstanding civil or military services to the French nation. Among the Czech bearers of the order are, for example, Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, Václav Havel or the elected president Petr Pavel.