Three Promises: The Kalef family of Belgrade, a Centropa multimedia film

“The film is a valentine to a lost Sephardic world, but one that doesn’t shy away from the horrors that destroyed that world.” Lilith Magazine, New York, March 2016

 

 

I promise I’ll protect our daughters, no matter what happens. I promise I’ll hide you, no matter who comes looking. I promise if I get out of this alive, the world will know about this priest.

Backgound: what makes Centropa different

Centropa was founded in 2000 so that they could interview over a thousand elderly Jews still living between the Baltic and the Black Seas and ask them to tell stories about the entire century, just as they lived it.

Centropa was not founded as a Holocaust-interview project. They did not use video in those interviews. Instead, Centropa’s teams spent a decade sitting in 1,200 living rooms in 15 countries, held up 25,000 old family photographs, and asked their respondents to tell stories about the people in those pictures—from the small comedies of everyday life to the great tragedies that befell them.

You can find the English language online database here. It is also available in German, Hungarian, Russian, Ukrainian, Serbian, and other languages. No one had ever captured European Jewish memory in this way before. It is sadly too late to begin such a project now (in 2020).

Using personal stories to bring history to life

That’s why films like the Kalefs of Belgrade is so important. Matilda and Breda Kalef  take us into their Sephardic Jewish community in the 1930s to tell us about cousins, aunts and uncles, Jewish holidays and family vacations. And when the Germans invaded Serbia in 1941, their mother hid her giant family photo album, grabbed her daughters and knocked on the door of a church in a nearby suburb.

In October, 1944, they returned from hiding to find their home wrecked but the photo album still there. Everyone in those photos, however—from babies to great grandmothers--had all been murdered, including all those pictured above.

This is the story Centropa tells in the award-winning film, Three Promises, which has now been shown in six international film festivals.

Teachers — and students — love this film because

  • very few of us have ever seen Holocaust-related stories about Balkan Sephardic families;
  • even fewer have seen photographs of Sephardic women dressed in traditional costume;
  • and most important, this is a film with a strong moral and ethical core to it: of reaching out, leaning in, and saving a life.

There’s a punchline to Three Promises: Father Andrej Tumpej, the priest who saved their lives, always told Breda Kalef she had a lovely voice and she really should do something with it. And did she ever!

Watch the film here:

 

Europe for Citizens Consultation and Web-based Survey

In 2017, the Europe for Citizens programme (2014-2020) has reached the mid-point of its programme period and is therefore asking all its beneficiaries and all involved individuals to partake in a public consultation. EuroClio encourages those within our community who have been involved with the programme to partake in the consultation. Our community has greatly benefitted from the remembrance programme both through projects and operating grants.

This public consultation has been launched on 9 January on Your Voice in Europe (see: http://ec.europa.eu/yourvoice/consultations/index_en.htm) and on the DG HOME’s website (see: https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/content/public-consultation-mid-term-evaluation-europe-citizens-programme-2014-2020_en). The consultation’s deadline is 10 April, and its primary arims are to collect views and opinions on the results and impacts of activities and projects co-financed by the Europe for Citizens programme between 2014 and 2016. Contributions are sought from individuals, programme stakeholders, public authorities, civil society, beneficiaries and non-successful applicants.

In addition, a mid-term external evaluation in the form of an online survey has also been launched. It is aimed at collecting the first-hand experiences of the programme from three different stakeholder groups: action grant beneficiaries, operating grant beneficiaries and non-successful applicants. The detailed survey, can be accessed here: https://ec.europa.eu/eusurvey/runner/EFCP.