Shining Souls. Champions of Humanity – Inaugural Opening of the Inna Rogatchi’s Project & Exhibition at the European Parliament

On January 24th, 2017, there was Inaugural Opening of the Inna Rogatchi’s Shining Souls. Champions of Humanity project and exhibition was held at the European Parliament in Brussels in Commemoration of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2017.

At the Shining Souls. Champions of Humanity exhibition of the Inna Rogatchi’s art project at the European parliament , January 2017

The Hosts of the Event were two distinguished international politicians, MEP Dr Hannu Takkula ( Finland, ALDE) who had initiated the exhibition, and MEP Bastiaan Belder ( the Netherlands, CER) who did support it. Inna and Michael Rogatchi were at attendance at the Opening Event which marked the European Premiere of this collection.

Inna Rogatchi and MEP Bastiaan Belder at the Inaugural Opening

The event at the European Parliament has been attended by senior parliamentarians and by HE Ambassador of Israel to EU and NATO Mr Aharon Leshno-Yaar who also was speaking at the event.

HE Ambassador of Israel to EU and NATO Aharon Leshno-Yaar is addressing the Inaugural event.

Among the guests were the Vice-President of the European Parliament, legendary dissident political and public figure MEP Laszlo Tokes , the former Minister for Foreign Affairs of Estonia MEP Urmas Paet, both long-term friends of Inna and Michael Rogatchis.

Inna Rogatchi and the Event Host MEP Hannu Takkula.

Such senior and well-known politicians as MEP Olga Senhalova, the Vice-Chair of the European Parliament Delegation for Israel, MEP Renate Weber, Policy Adviser on Israel and Middle East to the Conservatives and Reform Group Elise Coolegem were present at the event, as well as former Vice-President of the European Parliament Marek Siwecz, representative of the Belgian Holocaust Memorial Kazerne Dossin Odile Remy, Director of the Archives of Yad Vashem Dr Haim Gertner, representatives and close colleagues of Pastor Patrick Desbois Dita Renata and Costel Nasticie were among the guests at the ceremony.

Their greetings and wishes for the inauguration of the Inna’s project devoted to the champions of humanity and focused in its Brussels Edition 2017 on the Holocaust have sent the members of the families of many of those outstanding people who are keeping personal contact with Inna Rogatchi for years, including Cecilia Ahlberg and the other members of the Raoul Wallenberg’s family; survivor Marian Turski, Chairman of the POLIN Museum; Brigadier General of the US Army ( Ret). James M. Hutchens, legendary American hero and husband of the late artist and humanist Pat Mercer Hutchens, Barbara and Nicholas Wintons, children of Sir Nicholas Winton, Nobuki Sugihara, son of the great and brave Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara.

Inna Rogatchi is speaking with the representatives and colleagues of Father Patrick Desbois.

In his addressing to Inna Rogatchi, Father Patrick Desbois, world renowned historian of the Holocaust, have said: “ I am truly honoured by your art work that you dedicated to my life’s work. I would also like to tell you how much I admire the work you and your husband do through your family Rogatchi Foundation”.

Inna Rogatchi’s Shining Souls exhibition at the European Parliament.

The exhibition at the European Parliament has been organised in memory of Elie Wiesel. In his Special Opening Addressing from Paris, Dr Michael de Saint-Cheron, close friend and colleague of Wiesel has said the following: “With her great heart and all her talent Inna Rogatchireminds us about the echo of Holocaust in a tangible way. We also salute her intention to remember the army of the Righteous Among the Nations, all those people who rose up against the barbarism of Nazism”.

Dr Harri Kuhalampi is reading the Special Addressing by Dr Michael de Saint-Cheron in memory of Elie Wiesel.

The philosopher’s addressing was read at the ceremony by Dr Harri Kuhalampi, Senior Adviser to MEP Hannu Takkula.

Full text of the de Saint-Cheron’s addressing can be read here.

 In his Welcoming Speech, MEP Hannu Takkula said: “It is a great honour and a special joy for me to welcome you all to the opening ceremony of this exhibition, which carries the title “Shining Souls. Champions of Humanity” which is the part of the events organised here at the European Parliament in commemoration of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day this week. I am so happy to be able to welcome to the European Parliament my good friends Dr Inna Rogatchi and her husband, world-famous artist Michael Rogatchi.

MEP Dr Hannu Takkula addressing the public.

This exhibition effectively shows that the memory of the Holocaust is alive and that this memory is still meaningful for very many people. These art works illustrate that it is also possible to maintain this memory in attractive and relevant way. […] I think that we can all rejoice that there are people which such artistic talent who are able to carry on reminding people on the Holocaust in such appealing way.

The fragment of the exposition. Brussels, January 2017.

Dear Inna, we all are so grateful to you for this project and your great art which goes much deeper than just being pleasant to look at. There is a deep message in all your works, and we must to return to that message all the time, to keep it alive. And I also invite all our guests to pay a special attention to the important material of the Dr Rogatchi’s writings which are the part of her project. To this materials, we all would return yet many times. Thank you, dear Inna!”.

Distinguished European politician MEP Bastiaan Belder is speaking at the Inaugural Opening.

MEP Bastiaan Belder, the one of the leading European and world’s politicians, said in his Opening Speech: “In my home country, the Netherlands, there is a famous poem about the Second World War:

Come this evening with the stories of the vanished war,

And repeat them every time,

And every time I shall weep.

This poem came to my mind by carefully reading and reflecting on the impressive art work of Dr Inna Rogatchi on her Shining Souls. Champions of Humanity, but with a small addition: And every time I shall weep and admire these shining souls. Indeed, those shining souls in the midst of that utter darkness in the Europe’s history.

As a history teacher, together with my students I watched in documentaries the stories of Shining Souls, survivors of the Holocaust. As a journalist, I interviewed in Auschwitz, a Shining Soul, survivor of the Holocaust, so grateful to become a mother in Israel.

And now, as a Member of the European Parliament, thanks to my dear colleagues Dr Hannu Takkula, and above all, thanks to the great inspiration of Dr Inna Rogatchi, I can say: we all here are warmly invited to remember, in a great style, the Holocaust, the Shoah by the Champions of Humanity, by Shining Souls”.

 Inna Rogatchi shows her exhibition to MEP Bas Belder and Policy Adviser to the CER Group Elise Coolegem.
Bas Belder and Inna Rogatchi at the Shining Souls Inaugural Opening at the European Parliament.

HE Ambassador Aharon Leshno-Yaar, Ambassador of Israel to EU and NATO, was emphasising in his speech important phenomena: “ I am from the Holocaust survivor’s family. All our family has been annihilated in Poland, and we do not know neither when nor where it had happened. The only survivors of the big family there were my father and his brother, who both were very young at the time.

 My father was able to overcome that total devastation of his entire family and was able to build up his life and established the family in Israel. […]

HE Ambassador of Israel to EU and NATO Aharon Leshno-Yaar speaking at the event.

My life as of a diplomat and as of a Jew has been connected to the Holocaust theme both professionally and personally. As you all know, the International Holocaust Remembrance Day before the European Union has been instituted at the United Nations back in 2005. There had been a major international effort to achieve that essential resolution. No less than 104 states were the sponsors of the resolution, and the text of that resolution had been drafted in Israel. As a diplomat, posted at the UN at the time, I had been working on that principal matter very closely, and I am very glad to say that we did it, with many people and countries participating and with Israel having the leading role in the effort. […]

Hosts of the Event MEP Hannu Takkula and MEP Bas Belder, the Ambassador of Israel to EU and NATO Aharon Leshno-Yaar and Inna Rogatchi at the Inaugural Opening of Champions of Humanity project.

Secondly, as a Jew working now here in Brussels ( HE Ambassador Leshno-Yaar is the first Israeli Ambassador to NATO started his work from September 2016 – RF), I have to tell you that it is not only about friends of Israel here in Brussels, in the centre of the European policy and Trans-Atlantic power. I know and we realise that Israel has many friends inside these walls. But the point is that everyone, just everyone working and representing their respective countries in this organisation, the European Parliament, has to have their responsibilities towards the situation developing in the Middle-East, towards Israel, towards international terrorism, because it concerns all of us, and all citizens of those countries”. HE Ambassador Leshno –Yaar did thank Inna Rogatchi and The Rogatchi Foundation for ‘so beautiful and so powerful reminding about these responsibilities, and also about the very origin of those responsibilities to all of us here today”.

Fragment of the exposition.

In her Opening Remarks, Inna Rogatchi thanked the guests attending and the Hosts of the event, and also those colleagues who did work with her on the exhibition and to organise the event at the European Parliament. She was reflecting on the two important historic dates in between which the Inaugural Opening of the Shining Souls was happening and which provided serious impact on the special event: the 75th anniversary of the Wannsee Conference and the 72th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. She also was telling about the long way through which Nazism paved its way to total power in Germany in the 1930s, and why it is so very actual to be alert on its possible arise today.

Inna Rogatchi addressing the Opening of her exhibition, with Ambassador of Israel HE Aharon Leshno-Yaar listening.

Inna Rogatchi also was speaking on the concept of her project and exhibition which commemorates both Jewish and non-Jewish humanists and people whose life has been marked by the Holocaust, on the concept her project is based. The concept is examining such phenomena as the Wisdom of the Heart with regard to the Jewish heroes of her art series , and Courage of Compassion regarding the non-Jewish heroes.

The full Opening Remarks by Inna Rogatchi can be read here , in the form of the essay based on it.

MEP Olga Senhalova, Senior Adviser Dr Harri Kuhalampi, Mrs Debby Leshno -Yaar, Dr Haim Gertner from Yad Vashem listening to the Opening Speeches at the ceremony.

The Shining Soul. Champions of Humanity exhibition had been received extremely well by the public at the European Parliament. The Vice-President of the European Parliament MEP Laszlo Tokes, legendary human right fighter, had been especially taken by the idea and the concept of the project, he has said. Two leading European politicians, MEP Olga Senhalova, Vice-Chair of the Delegation for Israel, and MEP Renate Weber were both emphasising how absolutely important and timely it was to create and produce the Champions of Humanity project. Former Minister for Foreign Affairs of Estonia, MEP Urmas Paet had been very interested and appreciative, too. Support and interest in the unusual angel in bringing the memory of the Shoah out to the wide public had been expressed warmly by Dr Haim Gertner, the Director of the Archives of Yad Vashem.

From left to right: former Vice-President of the European Parliament Marek Siwecz, MEP Dr Hannu Takkula, MEP olga Senhalova, Inna Rogatchi, MEP Bastiaan Belder.

Many people were asking a lot of questions regarding both the symbolism of the art works in the series and the details of lives of the Champions of Humanity commemorated. For the long time, people were staying at the exhibition, reading materials and looking on the art works, reflecting on the Shining Souls.

Inna Rogatchi with Vice President of the European Parliament, the old friend MEP Laszlo Tokes.

What you did is so special, – said the one of the guests from the Netherland to Inna Rogatchi – You are talking here in your series, on so many people who could be forgotten, especially as the time is flying by, but now they would not”.

The exhibition inaugurated at the European Parliament and having its European Premiere there, is a touring project. Among the other presentation, it will be shown at Abo Academi event in Turku, Finland, in November 2017, as a part of the special Symposium and event in commemoration of Kristallnacht.