Třebíč and the legacy of Antonín Kalina
Antonín Kalina took his war activity as a matter of course and did not talk about it with his loved ones during his life.
For decades, only the rescued boys and Kalina's concentration camp colleagues knew about his heroism. Despite the hard work of one of them - the former Buchenwald fellow prisoner Jindřich Flusser - Kalina did not receive public recognition during his lifetime. It was not until 2012, twenty-two years after his death, that Antonín Kalina was awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations by the Israeli memorial Yad Vashem on the initiative of several rescued boys.
The prestigious Israeli award, the American documentary "Kinderblock 66: Return to Buchenwald" made by Steve Moskovic, a son of one of the rescued boys, and the discovery work of the documentary filmmaker Stanislav Motl appealed to the whole world and aroused a well-deserved response in Kalina's hometown of Třebíč.
Třebíč is now proud of the legacy of a modest hero, and since 2012, when one of the employees of Městské kulturní středisko (the Town Cultural Center) came across his name in Stanislav Motl's book, with its activity it has been trying to sensitively recall his great and still little-known story.
Lenka Vlachová, an employee of the Tourist Information Center in Třebíč, came across the name of Antonín Kalina from Třebíč in Stanislav Motl's book Oběti a jejich vrazi (Victims and Their Murderers). Kalina was a man who saved the lives of more than a thousand Jewish children from all over Europe as a prisoner in the Buchenwald concentration camp. In the book, Stanislav Motl refers to Jindřich Flusser, one of the survivors, who mentioned Antonín Kalina during his interview for a yearbook The Terezín Studies and Documents. In the same year, they managed to contact Kalina's closest relatives in Třebíč.
Antonín Kalina's relatives accepted an invitation to the Israeli Embassy in Prague, where on 17 December 2013 they received the prestigious award Righteous Among the Nations, given to Antonín Kalina in memoriam a year earlier. In addition to Kalina's nephews Oldřich Kalina and Jaromír Slavík, three of Kalina's children who thanks to him survived the war also took part in the ceremony, namely Naftali "Ďuro" Fürst, Pavel Kohn and Alex Moskovic, accompanied by his son Steve, the director of the documentary Kinderblock 66: Return to Buchenwald.
In February 2014, the representatives of the town met with the relatives of Antonín Kalina in the Třebíč town hall, where the commemorative ceremony of the rescuer of the children in the Buchenwald concentration camp took place. The ceremony was also attended by the publicist Stanislav Motl, who presented his book Děti Antonína Kaliny (The Children of Antonín Kalina). In June 2014, Antonín Kalina was appointed as an Honorary Citizen of the City of Třebíč in memoriam.
In September 2015, a memorial plaque to commemorate Antonín Kalina was placed on the building of the former Jewish school in the Jewish quarter of Třebíč. In addition to the town management and the general public, Kalina's granddaughter Alexandra Bodamer, also a native of Třebíč, who has lived in the United States of America since 1979, also took part in the unveiling ceremony. The inscription on the plaque in three languages (Czech, Hebrew and English) recalls Kalina's heroic deed.
During the ceremonial premiere, the documentary Děti Antonína Kaliny (The Children of Antonín Kalina) was presented at Šamajim festival in Třebíč. In addition to the screenwriter Stanislav Motl, the director Pavel Dražan, the representatives of the Třebíč Town Hall and the Vysočina Region, and Kalina's relatives, two of the rescued boys - Naftali Ďuro Fürst from Israel and Pavel Kohn then living in Germany - also took part in the film premiere on Friday 5 August. Due to the great interest of the public, the film was screened the following day, on Saturday, August 6. During the follow-up discussion, both gentlemen shared their memories of Buchenwald and their saviour Antonín Kalina with the audience.
On February 17, 2017, on the day of the 115th anniversary of Kalina's birth, Antonín Kalina Memorial Hall was inaugurated near the Rear Synagogue. It was created as a logical follow-up of activities from previous years, leading to making Kalina's legacy visible. The exhibition of the saviour of children in Buchenwald is presented to the visitors on eight exhibition panels as text documents and photographs which are complemented with the prisoner's daily necessities and a number of awards, which Antonín Kalina received two decades after his death.
On February 21, 2019, the Antonín Kalina Memorial Hall was extended by a section called The Children of Antonín Kalina. The exhibition focuses on the life stories of several selected boys who, thanks to their survival, became exceptional personalities and experts in many fields as adults. Attention is also paid to Kalina's friend, doctor Jindřich Flusser, who was actively involved in rescuing the boys. An integral part of the exhibition is the Tree of Life from the workshop of the masters and students of the Secondary Industrial School in Třebíč. The tree leaves bear the names of the children saved by Kalina.
The Children of Antonín Kalina Exhibition, located on the ground floor of a Jewish house next to the Rear Synagogue in Třebíč, won the third place in the category of cultural achievements in 2019 in the Vysočina Region survey called Zlatá Jeřabina, where the public has the opportunity to vote and award projects.