Extraordinary guided tours of the exhibition dedicated to Antonín Kalin, the savior of more than 900 children from the Buchenwald concentration camp, February 18, 2023 Třebíč.
Třebíč – Today, people in Třebíč commemorated the anniversary of the birth of the savior of Jewish children, Antonín Kalina, with guided tours of the former Jewish school. Born in Třebíč on February 17, 1902, he helped about 900 Jewish boys survive in the concentration camp during the Second World War. In the former Jewish school in the neighborhood of the Back Synagogue, there is a Kalin Memorial Hall, which also commemorates the rescued children. According to the director of the Municipal Cultural Center, Nikola Černá, guided tours were prepared for school pupils on Friday, and the public can use them until Sunday.
“For me, Antonín Kalina is simply a hero. He is a man who accomplished incredible deeds. I think that many of us would not be capable of such a thing. We should remember his deeds. Especially we, the people of Třebíčac, should be proud of him and proclaim his name to the whole world,” Aneta Chytková, the author of a book mapping Kalin's life, told ČTK about Kalin, who gave a lecture about Kalin today at the Zadní Synagogue in Třebíč.
She published the book in 2017, focusing on Kalina's pre-war life and his stay in a concentration camp. Since then, she has devoted herself, among other things, to mapping Kalin's life in Prague, where he moved after the Second World War. “He worked there at the then Ministry of Light Industry, he was the head of the technical department. It wasn't a big career at all,” said Chytková.
During the First Republic, Kalina was politically active and became a member of the Communist Party. He was arrested by the Nazis in 1939 and imprisoned throughout the war. In the last months of the war, he managed to save many Jewish boys between the ages of 12 and 16 from death in the Buchenwald concentration camp. For example, by rewriting their faith from Jewish to Christian in documents. He changed their Jewish-sounding names to others, passing them off as typhoid patients, which discouraged the guards from contacting them. He didn't talk about it after the war. His part in the rescue was only published many years later by people who were among the rescued.
Under Kalina's protection, the future winner of the Nobel Peace Prize Elie Wiesel, the longtime editor of Radio Free Europe Pavel Kohn and the Hungarian writer and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature Imre Kertész survived the concentration camp.
Kalina died in 1990 at the age of 88. years and is buried at the Olšan Cemetery in Prague. In 2012 he was awarded Righteous Among the Nations. This title is awarded by Israel to people of non-Jewish origin who risked their lives during the Second World War to save Jews from the Holocaust. In 2014, President Miloš Zeman recognized Kalina's actions by awarding him with the State Award for Merit of the First Degree, and in the same year, Kalina was named an honorary citizen of Třebíč. Three years later, Třebíč opened his memorial hall, which was expanded in 2019 and supplemented with a forged tree of life with leaves bearing the names of rescued boys. The exhibition is also devoted to the Prague doctor Jindřich Flusser, who helped Kalin with his rescue. Today, new streets in Třebíč are named after both men.