July 13, 2012

Tribute to Antonin Kalina, rescuer of hundreds of children

The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation sponsors the documentary film “Kinderblock 66: return to Buchenwald”

The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation announces the special screenings of the movie “Kinderblock 66: Return to Buchenwald.” The film is part of the Jerusalem Film Festival from 5 to July 14. The film was also screened in Tel Aviv on July 11, on a special occasion where an exchange of questions and answers with the producers took place. On the same day Kalina was declared “Righteous Among the Nations” by Yad Vashem, Israel´s world center for documentation, research, education and commemoration of the Holocaust.

The IRWF sponsors this film, yielding thus a tribute to Antonin Kalina, who was responsible for the salvation of approximately 1000 children in a barrack at Buchenwald concentration camp at the end of World War II.

Buchenwald was one of the largest and more known concentration camps in Germany. In 1944, the field was flooded with the remnants of European Jewry during the war, which was nearing its bloody end. Among them was a large and growing number of children and adolescents, many of whom had lost their families in the ghettos and camps of Nazi-occupied Poland, Hungary or the most recent deportations to Auschwitz-Birkenau.

The German Communist underground, which administered the camp day-by- day, recognized this influx of children and youth who required special response. The underground took the conscious decision to do as much as possible to protect the young.

The children came in such numbers that the leaders decided to establish a new children s block, the “Block 66″. The area was so horrible and disease ridden, the SS guards seldom went there.

The block was led by Antonin Kalina, a Czech communist and his deputy, Gustav Schiller, a Polish Jew, who strove to keep children safe. On April 11, 1945, Buchenwald was liberated. About 1,000 children survived. After the war, Antonin Kalina disappeared behind the Iron Curtain and was never properly recognized for his heroism. The filmmakers are trying to bring Kalina postumous recognition as Righteous Among the Nations, and are also looking to find members of his family.

The film Kinderblock 66, sensitive and well documented, follows the journey of the children who survived from Block 66 from their homes in Europe, Israel and the U.S. Weimar and Buchenwald.

The mission of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation is to develop educational programs and public awareness campaigns based on the values of solidarity and civic courage, ethical cornerstones of the Saviors of the Holocaust. It was created by Baruch Tenembaum and is presided by Eduardo Eurnekian .

Website of the film http://kinderblock66thefilm.com