I am so very proud to present an important and heart-rending new addition to the family history project by Budapest-born, Csilla Toldy. The poetry film – Here I Stand – was a commission from the Executive Office of Northern Ireland, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Nazi concentration camps. Quite how anyone goes about such a commission, is a challenge many would find far too difficult to face. One requirement was that she was sensitive to the more recent genocides in Bosnia, Darfur, Cambodia and Rwanda. Woven around the sacrifice a mother makes for her son’s life, Csilla’s direction has let the images speak for themselves, where long silences also serve the short, agonising interactions between a male and female voice. The film also includes the walls of photographs of those brutally taken. We will never forget every one of them, but are also reminded how human beings can turn on each other; how we can lose faith in mankind, but must make sure this never happens again.
Csilla sent me details of the making of the film, and afterwards I felt there was something more she might want to add. She then told me she had visited Auschwitz in 2018 with her 85-year-old mother who had been a child witness of the Holocaust. A deeply emotional account of this trip is also included entitled ‘Reflecting on Imre Kertész’s Fatelessness’ which was originally published in Ploughshares at Emerson College, 29/10/2018. We also learn about the enormity of a choice Csilla herself had to make, as a teenager in relation to her mother, and her country. Today such a decision requires a bravery and belief foreign to most of us. But it also explains how she was the perfect author for retelling this tragic incident during WWII. So much can be written on this subject, perhaps it is best to begin by reflecting on what this six-minute film teaches, and also brings out in each of us.