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CULTURE IN SHORT

Return to the Burning House screened in Bratislava

THE PREVIEW of the documentary film Return to the Burning House directed by Anna Grusková took place at the Mladosť Cinema in Bratislava on November 18. It tells the story of Haviva Reik (1914-1944), lesser-known heroine of the Slovak National Uprising (SNP), member of the British intelligence service, activist and Zionist.

THE PREVIEW of the documentary film Return to the Burning House directed by Anna Grusková took place at the Mladosť Cinema in Bratislava on November 18. It tells the story of Haviva Reik (1914-1944), lesser-known heroine of the Slovak National Uprising (SNP), member of the British intelligence service, activist and Zionist.

“This film was created not only to tell her story, but also to inspire and to pass along hope,” Grusková said, as quoted by the TASR newswire. She described the main character as a courageous, frank and unselfish woman with her own vision and hope.

The one who came up with the idea to create the film was historian and head of the SNP Museum in Banská Bystrica Stanislav Mičev.

“She was riding a motorbike in Banská Bystrica during the 20s and 30s, which was a slight madness at the time, and especially in Catholic villages around Banská Bystrica it was a real rarity,” Mičev said when describing Reik, as quoted by TASR.

He also appreciated Grusková’s work, stressing that she did not try to depict Reik as an absolutely positive heroine. She showed her mistakes, but also described her as a woman who defended her attitudes and never made concessions.

One of the important sources was journalist Tehila Ofer who also appears in the film. According to Grusková, Ofer supplied much information to keep Reik’s message. She visited all possible archives and even arrived to Slovakia. Ofer also published a book which has been recently released in English.

The documentary film includes many unpublished archive materials and memories of witnesses, while it also follows Reik’s steps in Slovakia, London and Israel, TASR wrote. It is part of the broader effort to return her into the European memory. The film has both Slovak and English versions.

“Various cultural and historical institutions from seven countries cooperate with us,” Mirka Molnár Ľachká, the producer of the film, told TASR, adding that the film will be screened in the Czech Republic, Italy, Germany, Poland, Great Britain and the Netherlands.

Moreover, there is also a short 40-minute film for students that should be screened at history classes as “it is really a story which also young people should reflect on”, Molnár Ľachká added.

Reik was born as Marta Reick in the village of Nadabula (now a part of Rožňava), and grew up in Banská Bystrica where she later joined the HaShomer HaTzair youth movement. In the end of 1938 she left to Palestine where she joined kibbutz Ma’anit. She was later enlisted in the Palmach, the elite strike force of the Haganah underground military organisation which tried to end the British occupation of Palestine.

Reik later got the chance to help persecuted Jews, and joined the British Special Operations Executive (SOE). She was one of the parachutists sent to military missions in Nazi-occupied Europe. After arriving to Slovakia during the SNP she actively helped not only Jews, but also pilots of the allies. After the SNP she was captured and killed by Nazis in Kremnička, TASR wrote.

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