Condemned To Remember – Film Review by Frank L.
Director: Gerry Gregg
Producer: Gerry Gregg
Cast: Tomi Reichental, Jan Gross, Sami Aiyob
Tomi Reichental was born into a Jewish family of farming stock in 1935 in Czechoslovakia in what is now part of Slovakia. During the Second World War, most of his immediate family were killed by the various means adopted by the Nazis. He ended up in the concentration camp Bergen Belsen along with his mother, grandmother and a brother in 1944. The camp was liberated in 1945. He was nine years old. In 1959, he came to Ireland where he has made his life and raised a family.
However it is not possible for him to erase the memory of his early years. He believed after the Second World War that the events of unbridled hatred which he had lived through and experienced would not and could not happen again. He is therefore totally committed to offering the hand of friendship to individuals and communities of different races and creeds. His encouraging generosity of spirit is reciprocated by an Imam in a Blanchardstown mosque who invited Tomi with his wife to celebrate his 80th birthday. This documentary begins with that celebration.
Tomi’s thoughts and actions dominate the film. He visits various sites in Europe which are of significance to him in particular Bergen Belsen, Srebinica where in 1997 over 8,000 Muslims were murdered by Serb nationalists. He refers to the current situation in Syria and his personal radio appeal two years ago for 10,000 refugees to be admitted into Ireland. In the subsequent phone-in seventy five percent of the callers were against any such offer being made. He travels to his own village in Slovakia where a xenophobic nationalist party is in power. The virulent racist attitudes depicted are deeply disturbing to watch.
Tomi is a man who has lived through and survived the consequences of irrational hate. Given what has happened in the last twenty five years and what is happening now, he is forced to admit that that he was wrong about his belief that unbridled hatred would not and could not happen again. However, his own life bears witness to confronting this debilitating hatred to which the human race so easily succumbs.
His life is one of immense moral courage. He is not remaining silent. He is a strong voice against evil. “Condemned to remember” bears witness to his generous and fearless spirit.