Head of former political prisoners group: Communist and Nazi crimes are "parallel evils"
The fifth annual Mene Tekel Festival (www.menetekel.cz), which focuses on the impact of totalitarianism on art and education, has opened today in Prague. The festival will last until Sunday and includes concerts, exhibitions, films, lectures and projects for children. The aim of the festival is to improve the younger generation's awareness of recent history and to remind them of the horrors of the communist regime. The festival opened today in the Cloisters of the Karolinum. Organizers also gave speeches from the balcony of the Kinsky Palace on the Old Town Square.
"The racial murders of the Nazis and the class murders of the communists are parallel evils," the President of the International Association of Former Political Prisoners and Victims of Communism, Jure Knezović, said in his opening remarks. In his view, communism should be banned, just as Nazism and neo-Nazism are no longer tolerated.
"The task for us, the political prisoners, is to keep waking our fellow citizens up. We have to remind them, primarily the youth, that they should not waste their great opportunity to create a life that will be more just and more meaningful," said Naděžda Kavalírová, chair of the Confederation of Political Prisoners.
The Cloisters of the Karolinum are now displaying the photographs, pictures and statues of Jiří Sozanský, whose work is an expression of his opposition to ideologies and violence. There is also an exhibition on the fate of the sculptor Jaroslav Šlezinger, who was imprisoned by both the Nazi and the communist regimes. Photographs of the legendary Hill of Crosses in Lithuania remind us of this symbol of Lithuanian resistance to the Soviet regime. The exhibition also covers other topics and will be open daily until 5 March from 10:00 - 18:00 CET. Entry is free.
The Kino Ponrepo cinema will be screening selected Hungarian and Polish films as part of the Mene Tekel festival. On Thursday at 20:00 CET, the 2009 film "Generál Nil", directed by Ryszard Bugajski, will be shown. This is an historical drama about the last years in the dramatic life of the leader of the alternate forces headquarters, part of the Polish anti-fascist resistance during the Second World War. The cinema program can be found on the website of the National Film Archive.
As part of the festival's "Rock against Totalitarianism" concert cycle, the Czech punk band Visací zámek will perform at the Vagon club on Thursday. On Friday the club will feature the AC/DC - Bon Scott Memorial Band from Olomouc.
One remarkable sight promises to be the reenactment of the trial of the artist and political prisoner Dagmar Šimková on Saturday at 14:00 CET in an actual courtroom at the High Court in Prague. The character of Šimková will be portrayed by Debora Štolbová of the Antonín Dvořák Theater in Příbram. The other roles will be performed by law students.
In 1952, Šimková was sentenced to 15 years in prison for distributing leaflets and hiding her friends from the authorities. She was released in 1966 and emigrated to Australia after the August 1968 occupation.
The festival will end with an ecumenical service at Saint Vitus Cathedral at 14:00 CET. Mass will be said for those deceased political prisoners who were executed and tortured. The service will be lead by Prague Archbishop Dominik Duka together with the chair of the Ecumenical Council of Churches, Joel Ruml.
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