Bergen Belsen Holocaust survivor Tomi Reichental was in Galway this week for a special screening in The Eye Cinema of “Condemned to Remember”, a documentary inspired by his experiences as a child during the war.
This powerful documentary was produced by Gerry Gregg and it draws from Tomi’s own traumatic experiences as a child imprisoned in a concentration camp and questions the rise of fascism throughout present day Europe. Disturbingly it raises the possibility of history repeating itself.
The screening was attended by over 280 secondary school students from across Galway city and county and following the screening Tomi and Gerry answered questions from the audience.
Following the screening Tomi and Gerry were invited to a tree planting ceremony in Galway Community College where Adrian McGrath, GCC chaplain and Leaving Cert student Witoria Gorczyca read reflections honouring the memory of those who perished during the Holocaust.
It was particularly poignant for Witoria as her own great grandfather, Roman Koloski, was a prisoner in Auschwitz, Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen and Dachau. Amazingly he survived and only died in 1984.
Tomi’s story left the students, who viewed the documentary, with a strong connection with the suffering of those affected so brutally during the Holocaust but also with a renewed sense of awareness and understanding as to the plight of current day refugees and displaced peoples globally.
It was fitting that the students of GCC planted a Carpinus tree because much like the human spirit the Carpinus can be cut back but will keep growing. Tomi asks us to let Love conquer Hate.
Gerry Gregg’s documentary, “Condemned to Remember” based on Tomi’s life will be screened on RTE on February 14.