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Exhibition "LIGA TEREZIN" Opening at the Museum in Terezin
Pavel Kuca, Czech Republic (June 2012)


On May 29, 2012, the evening before the Czech international soccer team left for the European championship in Poland, the exhibition “LIGA TEREZIN” was opened at the Small Fortress in Terezin. The exhibition was lent to the Terezin Museum by the Israeli Beit Theresienstadt. The chairman of the football Association of the Czech Republic, Miroslav Pelta, took part in the opening event. Mr Pelta is an enthusiastic supporter of bringing young people closer to the subject. We learn about the soccer games in ghetto Terezin from various sources, like drawings and articles published in children’s newspapers in the ghetto.

Another source is the Nazi propaganda film from 1944. Pavel Breda is one of the players shown in the film. Pavel’s nephew, Oded Breda, is the director of Beit Terezin in kibbutz Givat Haim Ihud. The kibbutz was established after WWII by Holocaust survivors [some joined to an already established place - BT]. “About 40 years ago a picture cropped up at our home. My father told me that the picture depicts his brother, who did not survive the Holocaust. Five years ago, I decided to find out more about the story behind the picture and how, in the first place, a soccer game was possible in the ghetto at all. Searching for the truth and my personal love of soccer brought me to the project of “LIGA TEREZIN”. "The focal point of the project is located in Beit Terezin in the form of a permanent exhibition in the museum”, said Oded Breda. His family hailed from Boskovice. His relatives built the well-known mall Breda &Weinstein in Opava.

“I had the chance to visit the exhibition at Beit Terezin, but their project encompasses other activities as well. One of those is an annual tournament, designed as a copy of the original league played in the ghetto. People from all over the world, including Palestinians, come to watch the game” says Jaroslav Sonka, the director of the European Shoah Legacy Institute. Lending the exhibition to the Czech museum is the initiative of the Czech-born David Hron, who today lives in Tel Aviv: “I tried to use the European soccer championship in Poland, e.g. the symbolism - the players of the Czech national team are traveling by train to play in Poland, the venue where most of the ghetto prisoners were deported to in WWII, including the soccer players of the Terezin league” says Hron. Thanks to the efforts of the workers at the Terezin museum in the Czech Republic, the exhibition was set up in a very short time; the team was headed by Jan Roubinek: “I would like to thank the graphic artist Miroslav Vesely, who worked day and night, under pressure of time, to ready everything for the planned opening. Thanks also to the witnesses, who had played in the ghetto: Toman Brod, Milos Dobry and Tomas Karas, who, their high age not with standing, came to Terezin and participated in the opening of the exhibition” Roubinek said. ”We had short black pants and white shirts. I was able to get violet cloth and we cut it to make tags to distinguish between the teams” recalled Milos Dobry from Olomouc who was the goalie of the butcher’s team. "Soccer was the means to preserve a vestige of humanity in this unusual and abnormal place. It was also the answer to the Nazis’ attempt to trample the human dignity of the prisoners. Soccer, Zionism, education, together with music and singing, these were the means to remain a human being and not to be broken” explained the director of the Czech Terezin museum Jan Munk.

Due to the of lack of time before the opening of the exhibition, a space was found in an area that is not very central and not much visited by tourists. This decision was a great disappointment for Tomas Jelinek, a member of the organization of Jewish Academics in the Czech Republic. “I found a venue for the exhibition in the center of Prague, near the OldTown square and also patronage by Vold Jamir Zeleznaand by the gallery Zlatahusa. To my regret, this proposal was not accepted by the initiators. Had the exhibition been in the center of Prague, more people would have seen it”, said Jelinek.

David Hron explained: “It is true, for a while we indeed looked for a place for the exhibition in Prague, together with the welcome cooperation of Mr. Jelinek. But in the end we were able to set up the exhibition in Terezin and that was our original aim".

Tomas Rieger, the PR director of the Terezin museum, summed it up: “The ongoing effort of the Terezin museum strives to encourage visits by Czech-speaking people in Terezin. We believe that this unconventional combination - Holocaust and soccer - will evoke the interest of visitors who did not yet come here and will now do it.”

The exhibition is open in Terezin until October 30, 2012. Oded Breda’s team finished a short time ago a documentary film titled “LIGA TEREZIN” intended for film festivals in Israel and in the Czech Republic. More about this subject may be found in the book by Frantisek Steiner “Soccer under the Yellow Star”.

 





 
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