The conference was opened on Thursday 7 April 2016 in the Museum of the City of Ústí nad Labem by the welcome speech of the Lady Mayor of the City – Ms Věra Nechybová and Mr Václav Houfek, the museum manager. The introductory part of the project also comprised the conclusion of the Cooperation Agreement between the Ústí museum and the National Liberation Museum in Maribor, since these two cities have many things in common in terms of history, and the cooperation between the museums will definitely be very fruitful.
The opening of the project was followed by a tour of the most interesting exhibitions commemorating war conflicts. Most time was devoted to the guided tour “Far in the North-West”, documenting the events of 1945 in Ústí nad Labem.
A tour around the city centre was part of the programme which followed the museum exhibitions. The city sightseeing focused on the sites connected to war events – monuments, the church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary (leaning from its axis since the air raids in WWII), the Beneš Bridge (associated with the tragic events following the violent post-war expulsion of the Germans). The afternoon´s programme was devoted to a visit to the Civil defence museum situated in the former air-raid shelter in the rock below Větruše.
The final event of Thursday’s programme was a workshop entitled “Sharing history” held at the Municipal office to list a series of “key statements” related to the First and Second World Wars. Later on there was a discussion relating to the programme events of the day , the meaning of the whole project, the motivation to take part in such an initiative as well as the further objectives and follow-up activities.
Friday’s programme started with a very compelling presentation prepared by teachers and students of the Elementary school in Trmice, who worked on a project entitled “The Disappeared Langweils”. The presentation also involved a short animated film – “The Key of Life” – created within the project. What is more, it was awarded the grand award by the jury at the international competition of audio-visual work of children and youth up to the age of 26 years – the Animánie Festival, held in Pilsen in October 2015. The participants in the conference did not hide their excitement, not to mention that there was not a dry eye in the house, without exaggeration.
The afternoon programme was devoted to a visit to Terezín (Theresienstadt). First of all, there was a guided tour of the Small Fortress (used as a Gestapo prison for political prisoners and later also for “persecuted” Jews from the ghetto during the Second World War). The next site was the Ghetto museum located in the centre of Terezín, i.e., on sites which were part of the Jewish ghetto during World War II.
The conference ended with a visit on Saturday 9th to the Lidice Memorial and Museum, the infamous town with a tragic fate, burned down by the Nazis in response to the successful assassination of the Reich-Protector, Reinhard Heydrich. The visit started with a guided tour of revered sites (monuments and statues located on the sites where the executions took part or where the school or church used to stand). The tour was followed by a viewing of the modern exhibition in the local museum. Despite the very emotional programme the participants showed excitement and satisfaction with the new experience, information and the inspiration gained for their work.