Humanist of the Year Award  ceremony for film director Saulius  Berzinis at the Embassy of Finland in Vilnius, Lithuania

On March 26, 2019, the Ambassador of Finland to Lithuania HE Christer Michelsson and Mrs Ebba Michelsson, in co-operation with The Rogatchi Foundation hosted a special celebration and reception on the Humanist of the Year 2018 Award for prominent Lithuanian film director Saulius Berzinis.

Prominent Lithuanian film director Saulius Berzinis has been awarded with this Award for his tireless work on documenting the memory on Holocaust, and especially on Holocaust in Lithuania, for three decades, since the establishing of his Independent Holocaust Studies Film Archive. The director will hand his priceless archive to forthcoming The Lost Shtetl Museum and Memorial Complex as his legacy and very rich material source for coming generations.

Several leading international figures took part in this meaningful event: Special Guest Speaker, the world-famous Finnish architect, the laureate of The Rogatchi Foundation Humanist of the Year Award 2017 prof. Rainer Mahlamäki; member of The Rogatchi Foundation International Advisory Board,  the one of the leading European politicians MEP Petras Austrevicius; writer, project manager of the forthcoming The Lost Shtetl Museum and Memorial Complex in Seduva Sergey Kanovich ( Brussels).

Among the guests, there were Ambassador of the USA HE Anne Hall, Ambassador of Norway HE Karsten Klepsvik, Ambassador for Special Affairs at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Lithuania HE Dainius Junevicius , Advisor on the religious issues of the Government of Lithuania Ms Diana Varnaite, top representatives of the Embassies of Finland and Estonia in Lithuania, Lithuanian intellectuals and leading figures of culture, such as leading musician, the chairman of the Senate of the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre prof. Leonidas Melnikas, well-known art collector, chairman of the board of Litvak World lawyer Antanas Zabulis, editor-in-chief of DELFI  media portal Ruslanas Irzikevicius, and the others.  Talented and emotional pianist Maria Mirovska performed a top-class grand-piano recital playing  Schubert and Mozart at the event.

Artist Michael Rogatchi, co-founder and the Chairman of the board of The Rogatchi Foundation handed to the laureate a Special Diploma for the Outstanding Contribution Into the Collective Memory on Holocaust.  

Chairman of The Rogatchi Foundation artist Michael Rogatchi hands The Humanist of the Year 2018 Special Diploma to director Saulius Berzinis. Vilnius.March 26, 2019. (C) The Rogatchi Foundation.

Before handing the Special Art Award to director Saulius Berzinis, the guests at the ceremony were shown a short art film featuring the prototype of the work, Song of Our Souls by Inna Rogatchi  –

Co-founder and the President of The Rogatchi Foundation writer, film maker and artist Inna Rogatchi awarded director Saulius Berzinis with Special Art Award created for him, her original art work Song of Our Souls II ( 2018).

Both Michael and Inna Rogatchis’ families are Litvaks, and to maintain constant cultural and historical dialogue with Lithuania is important for the co-founders of The Rogatchi Foundation.

Talented pianist Maria Mirovska gave an impressive recital at the Special Ceremony in Vilnius. March 26, 2019. (C) The Rogatchi Foundation.Talented pianist Maria Mirovska gave an impressive recital at the Special Ceremony in Vilnius. March 26, 2019. (C) The Rogatchi Foundation.

In his Acceptance Speech, prominent Lithuanian film director Saulius Berzinis recalled the crucial for his life and career point in 1989 since when has decided to learn more about Holocaust and in particular the tragic events that had happened in Lithuania where 96% of its 250. 000 Jewish population before the Second World War has been exterminated in unprecedented quantity and in unprecedented speed. The percentage of the Jewish people exterminated in Lithuania during the Holocaust is the highest in the WWII history. The speed of the actions is also the quickest. These extremely disturbing facts has triggered the motivation for the well-known film director to devote the thirty years of his life and career to the history of Holocaust in Lithuania.

The laureate of the Humanist of the Year Award was especially grateful to all the people who did share their dramatic knowledge with him during these years of his very intensive work, “to all my Jewish grandmothers and grandfathers who did help me on this way, whom I am remembering always, and who are still help me in my work which is still going on, and which, if to be frank, I do not think that it will be ever completed, so much material is still be there undiscovered and untold”.

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