An exhibition of art and poetry by Jewish children interned in the Terezin ghetto during World War II will open to coincide with National Harmony Day today.
Citizenship and Multicultural Interests Minister Rob Johnson, who will launch the exhibition at the WA Museum, said all Western Australians should see this powerful and thought-provoking exhibition.
Only 100 of the 15,000 children interned at Terezin, in what is now the Czech Republic, survived. Most died of starvation, disease or exhaustion while others were transported to the Auschwitz concentration camp.
After the Russian army liberated Terezin, 4,000 children’s drawings were found in two suitcases.
Mr Johnson said this exhibition - The Children of Terezin: Their Art … Their Legacy - featured 80 pieces of art and poetry.
“The pictures and poems send a message across the decades,” Mr Johnson said. “They reflect the triumph of the human spirit over terrible adversity.
“They also serve as a graphic reminder of the importance of accepting and valuing cultural and racial diversity.
“To reinforce this message, I’m launching this exhibition as part of National Harmony Day, which coincides with the United Nations Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.”
Ron Samuel, president of the Jewish Community Council of WA, said the exhibition was an important event for the State.
“It is vital that as many children as possible view the exhibition as a step to understanding the atrocities of the Nazi era in Europe during World War II,” Mr Samuel said.
“Only through seeing the eternal love for life displayed in these child victims’ drawings and writings can we hope that our own future leaders will ensure that these acts will never be forgotten, so they can never be repeated.”
The exhibition has previously been shown in Melbourne and has toured three major cities in Japan.
It has been bought to Perth by Soka Gakkai International Australia and the WA Government’s Office of Citizenship and Multicultural Interests.
The Children of Terezin: Their Art … Their Legacy is open free to the public until April 2.
Mr Johnson said the exhibition also included the Boys and Girls: Citizens of the World exhibition.
Developed in WA and supported by the Office of Citizenship and Multicultural Interests, the exhibition features the art of children from 160 countries.
A CD-ROM is available free of charge to schools and is aimed at Year 5 to 7 students.
“This electronic exhibition sends a strong message about ‘global citizenship’,” Mr Johnson said.
“It challenges us to look beyond traditional boundaries of culture, ethnicity and country and shows that we can all make a difference by striving to understand people from different cultures.
“This, of course, is one of the main aims of National Harmony Day.”
Media Contact: Fran Hodge 9481 3244