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Czech competition for "Twentieth Century Stories" announces winners

Prague, 16.12.2014 19:17, (ROMEA)
Demonstrators face police in communist Czechoslovakia. (Photo:  Website of the
Demonstrators face police in communist Czechoslovakia. (Photo: Website of the "Twentieth Century Stories" initiative)

Almost 7 000 people in the Czech Republic voted online for the biggest documentary competition, "Twentieth Century Stories", through which competitors discovered more than 3 000 forgotten eyewitnesses to events from the last century. There were 82 participants in the semi-final round of this second year of the competition.    

The expert jury selected nine winners in three age categories and the 10th winner was determined by the public through online voting. The awards, which include financial prizes, were handed out at the National Monument on Vítkov Hill in Prague.

The youngest participant in the competition was 13 years old, while the oldest was 60 years older than that. First place awards for recordings of the engaging fates of people in the 20th century were given to 15-year-old Anna Sedláčková, 18-year-old Veronika Kobzová and a team of five female students.

One of winning stories was about Dagmar Lieblová, who was saved from the gas chambers in Auschwitz solely through a Nazi official's typo in her date of birth, as well as the story of Ludmila Javorová, one of the few women to be consecrated in the underground church in Czechoslovakia during the 1960s. Kobzová, a student from Brno, had known Javorová from her parish since she was a child.

"What I like about her story is that Ms Lída stood up for herself the whole time. She wanted to live through her faith and with God, even when the StB [Czechoslovak secret police] were following her and several people around her tried to talk her out of it. She believed it was worthwhile," the student said.

The winning team of five girl students from the Pardubice Business Academy in the third category were captivated by the fate of Adventist Miroslav Šlechta, who during his mandatory military service during the 1950s consistently honored Saturday as the Sabbath and was imprisoned for more than five years, twice, for doing so. The competition is held annually by the Post Bellum association, which for 13 years has sought out and recorded the stories of eyewitnesses to groundbreaking moments of the 20th century.  

The association has built up the largest publicly accessible collection of such recorded testimonies in Europe. It includes recordings of the memories of almost 3 000 witnesses of the Holocaust, totalitarian regimes, and war.

"We are glad the competition is primarily reaching young people, half of those competing this year were pupils and students from primary and secondary schools," said the director of the association, Mikuláš Kroupa. Anyone who had recorded, by audio or video, the story of an eyewitness between 1 April and 5 October of this year could compete in one of three age categories.

The recording had to be accompanied by a text version of the eyewitness story including photo documentation. The winner of the public vote was the story of former opera singer Věra Heroldová, written by 19-year-old Jana Horčičáková.

Kateřina Čopjaková, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
Views: 275x

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