French Opening Premiere of the Inna Rogatchi’s Film on Simon Wiesenthal

On Israel Independence Day, the French Opening Premiere of Inna Rogatchi’s film on Simon Wiesenthal The Lessons of Survival had been launched at the leading French and international historical institutions, the famed Memorial de la Shoah.

The event had been opened and led by well-known historian, Dr George Bensoussan. Among the distinguished guests, there were French survivors of the Holocaust; H.E. Ambassador Okko-Pekka Salmimies; head of the Permanent Delegation of Finland at UNESCO and OCED, H.E. Ambassador Arunas Gelunas; head of the Permanent Delegation of Lithuania at UNESCO, famous Israeli-French artist, UNESCO Artist for Peace Hedva Ser; Second Secretary of the Finnish Embassy in France Ms Inkeri Virtanen.

In his Address to the organisers and public at the French Opening Premiere of Inna Rogatchi’s film, H.E. Risto Piipponen, Ambassador of Finland to France, has emphasised:

“This film conveys an important message. To overcome hatred, to continue the dialogue and to fight the prejudices – I quote the author Inna Rogatchi.

The word ‘humanity’ means living together while sharing the same essential values. Sometimes one can doubt that and humanity might be a meaningless term. We think, of course, on the tragic events in Paris that occurred in the beginning of the year, and of the fragile balance which currently surrounds us. (…)

This film is a homage to the victims of the Second World War, including six million Jews deported and exterminated in the Nazi camps. We need testimonies to maintain the memory. The film by Inna Rogatchi shows the importance of Simon Wiesenthal’s battle, but this testimony also projects hope, humanity and dignity.

The film’s author Inna Rogatchi was able to capture emotions in her film. It transmits, continues the combat and contributes to maintaining this so important public discussion.”

In his opening remarks, Dr George Bensoussan, Educational Director of the Memorial de la Shoah, has said:

“It is both very important and very interesting to re-exam history today, when we are witnessing an unexpected coherence of the commemorations of the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII, the liberation of many Nazi extermination camps, from one side, – and the acute rise of violent anti-Semitism, and especially here in France and its heart, Paris, as we are seeing and feeling it daily. Such coherence adds a very special twist to the people’s mind and perception, making it palpable and truly relevant to every single person, as in this auditorium, as in general, too.

I would like to congratulate and to thank Inna Rogatchi for making this extra-ordinary film and to greet you, dear Inna, at the French Opening Premiere of your important film.

This is not a coincidence that the film is shown to the French public for the very first time here, at the Memorial de la Shoah. As our audience knows, we are carrying on non-stop research, publishing, and exhibiting work in order to bring to the wider public as much still unknown and unpublished materials on the Holocaust, as possible.

And there could be no better way of conveying historical facts than by personal testimony, twice so when the person to testify is a figure of such calibre as Simon Wiesenthal. His experience, his knowledge, and his life-long stand is a living legacy of the people who not only survived but who did overcome the idea of extermination in their most productive, most interesting and most human way”.

Dr Inna Rogatchi in her introductory note remarked:

“The more I am globe-trotting representing my film on Simon Wiesenthal to various audiences, the more I am getting convinced how relevant our close look onto our recent history is today. It could not be the case some five, or ten years ago, but today when humanity is under the rising and growing attack against it, again, it seems to be acutely necessary. You, my viewers in Paris, do know more than many others of this acuteness, as you are living with the ongoing alarm daily, after the terror attacks in January, and with almost weekly mini-attacks ever since. From that prospect, this Premiere has been especially important and meaningful for me and my husband, artist Michael Rogatchi, whose paintings are an integral part of the film. We came here to be present at the premiere, to express our solidarity with French Jewry, and with Parisiennes in general, who are under attack by this new wave of hatred. I would like to tell you that when I was mentioning that I would be going with the film to Paris, so many people from very distant and different corners of the globe, from Australia to Finland and Israel, were enthusiastic in their support: ‘It so very important to be in Paris now, and to express the solidarity with people there!’ – I have been told very many times in recent months. So, I would like to pass this world-wide solidarity on to you, to tell you that we, people from different countries, identify with you, and are thinking about you, and are passionate about you. You are certainly not alone – and this is the principal difference from the times on which Simon Wiesenthal will be telling you from the screen now”.

The French Opening Premiere of the film has been extremely successful. The film has been received by the audience exceptionally warmly, with long ovation to the author, and with many expressions of gratitude and congratulations by many attendees of the premiere.

The Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France (CRIF), the most senior body of French Jewry, had published the news about the premiere both in their newsletter and on their site, as well.

The discussion after the screening of the film at the Memorial de la Shoah had been exceptionally long and productive. The range of topics discussed there by Inna Rogatchi, Dr George Bensoussan, and many representatives of the public, were: the destiny of Raoul Wallenberg, the efforts of his family to find the truth, and the attitude of the Swedish public and authorities to the matter during many decades; the real role and attitude of the Allies to the Nazi criminals which is as yet untold and unsatisfactorily researched story posing many painful questions; the reflections evoked by the ongoing trial in Germany on the ‘Auschwitz book-keeper’, the decade later when the matter has been brought to the public and law-enforcement limelight; the attitude towards Jewish and other victims of the Holocaust after the war by both the Allies and the Soviet authorities; the choice of Simon Wiesenthal to conduct his outstanding work from Austria, the closest ally of the Nazi Germany, and his life there for many decades after the Second World War.

“Thank you very much for bringing this great, legendary person so much closer to us” – Inna Rogatchi was told by her viewers in Paris. – “And please do go on with your work, it is really so very important. Do not stop!”

The Rogatchi Foundation and Inna and Michael Rogatchi personally express their cordial special thanks to the leading French philosopher, historian and author Michael de Saint-Cheron who had been instrumental in conceiving the idea on the French Opening Premiere in Paris.

Discussions are currently underway to have the film demonstrated at more events by various important institutions in France in 2015 and 2016.