Remembering Hilda Dajč 2023
The Remembering Hilda Dajč Award ceremony was held on May 7, 2023, at 2:00 p.m. in the ceremonial hall of the University Library “Svetozar Marković” in Belgrade. This recognition aims to promote youth activism, civic awareness, and social responsibility, as well as a meaningful and courageous culture of remembrance that strengthens human and civil rights, democratic values, pluralism, and tolerance.
The director of the University Library “Svetozar Marković,” Prof. Dr. Aleksandar Jerkov, welcomed the attendees.
Miško Stanišić, director of Terraforming, opened the program by inviting the attendees to observe a minute of silence for the victims of violence in Elementary School “Vladislav Ribnikar” in Belgrade and in Mladenovac.
Ambassador of Germany, H.E. Anke Konrad; Ambassador of Israel, H.E. Jahel Willan; Ambassador of Sweden, H.E. Anika Ben David; deputy ambassador of Austria, Mrs. Karin Traunmiller; and deputy ambassador of Canada, Mr. David Morgan; and members of the award jury, Brankica Janković, commissioner for the protection of equality, and Prof. Dr. Milena Dragičević Šešić, as well as other distinguished and dear guests, attended the award ceremony
Miško Stanišić, director of Terraforming, addressed the audience in his introductory speech and, among other things, said:
“Right now, when our society is in shock, trembling in the face of violence and bloodshed after the tragedy in the Belgrade school, precisely now it is even more significant and even more necessary to gather and publicly and loudly point out and support the values of tolerance, non-violence, inclusivity, empathy, solidarity, respect for human dignity, dialogue, pluralism, understanding, and civil and human rights, and to highlight and give space to those who work hard to strengthen and implement these values.
More now than ever, it is clear why it is extremely important to strengthen a meaningful and sincere memory culture and counter distortion and abuse of the past for the purpose of spreading fear, hatred, and nationalist propaganda, which leads to – violence. Today we want to emphasize WHY we remember: we remember to preserve the memory of the victims reverently and to do everything to ensure that such crimes will never repeat – through the development of critical thinking, pluralism, and a society based on civil and human rights – that is, precisely those rights that were taken away from the victims – starting with developing awareness of personal and the social responsibility and accountability.
Our initiative draws attention to and recognizes those who should be role models in our society. As can be seen from the list of nominated candidates for this year’s awards, it is those who contribute to the strengthening and promoting of the values of tolerance, pluralism, and human dignity and those who directly provide help and support to young people. I believe that these are the values that we should follow as a society.”
Addresses of ambassadors
The ambassador’s addresses followed.
Ambassador of Germany, H.E. Anke Konrad, underlined the importance of preserving the memory of the victims of Nazism and the symbol that Hilda Dajč represents in that context. She stated that the civil sector in Serbia is particularly important in the context of the struggle for a fairer society. “With your valuable work, you send a clear signal against hatred and discord and contribute to the preservation and improvement of democracy and pluralism. And every such commitment is significant and means additional value for society,” said Ambassador Konrad. “We congratulate all award winners and thank them for their tireless efforts. Especially after the two tragedies that befell us last week and left us speechless, the work of the winners of this award gives us strength and courage.”
Ambassador of Israel, H.E. Jahel Wilan, emphasized the importance of the work invested in preserving the memory of the victims of the Holocaust. Referring to the tragic events that affected Serbia, Ambassador Wilan pointed out that in the days of sadness, we become aware of the significant task that lies ahead of us, not only in Serbia but throughout the world, which is to shape a just, free, and secure future jointly, with empathy and understanding for our future generations. He emphasized that the “Remembring Hilda Dajč” Award helps achieve that goal because it promotes the continuous fight against hatred, intolerance, and discrimination.
Ambassador of Sweden, H.E. Annika Ben David, emphasized that on a day of national mourning, nothing seemed more appropriate than to honor the memory of Hilda Dajč and participate in the awarding ceremony for civic responsibility and social awareness. Congratulating all the nominees, the ambassador emphasized that their work is exactly what the world needs, regardless of the context. Ambassador Ben David recalled that more than 20 years ago, Sweden initiated the creation of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), which engages governments, experts, and civil society in preserving the memory of Holocaust victims, research, and education. During the past year, Sweden was the chairman of the Alliance, and in cooperation with Terraforming, the Swedish Embassy, together with the Swedish IHRA presidency, organized an international conference in Belgrade in February of this year, which deepened the cooperation of the two countries in this field.
Those present were also addressed by the deputy ambassador of Austria, Mrs. Karin Traunmiller, and the deputy ambassador of Canada, Mr. David Morgan.
After the introductory speeches, Nevena Bajalica, the president of the Award Steering Board, invited all the nominees to briefly present their work. The nominees are:
- Youth Radio for the podcast and radio show “What Kind of Country I Want to Live In.”
- MentalHub for free psychological counseling and psychotherapy for young people,
- Haver Serbia for placing the first “Stumbling Stones – Stolperstein” in Belgrade, and
- Institute for the Improvement of Education and Training (ZUOV) for the online portal fro teachers “Culture of Remembrance in the Education System.”
The students of XIV Belgrade High School, under the leadership of philosophy teacher Maja Kesnikov, presented their work – a short film about Hilda Dajč.
Awarding of recognition
The Youth Voice
This year, “The Youth Voice” resulted from a vote by graduates of the XIV Belgrade Gymnasium. MentalHub from Novi Sad won “The Youth Voice” by a large majority, and the award was presented by students and their teacher Maja Kesnikov.
Youth awards for demonstrated civic responsibility and social awareness
The winner of the “Youth Award for demonstrated civic responsibility and social awareness” is Youth Radio.
The award was presented by jury member Brankica Janković, commissioner for the protection of equality, who emphasized that it is extremely important that young people have their voice and space to express their opinion, especially in moments of crisis, and that our society has a secure future with such youth.
Recognition for outstanding contribution to the culture of memory
Jury member, Prof. Dr. Milena Dragičević-Šešić, presented the “Recognition for Outstanding Contribution to the Culture of Remembrance” to Haver Srbija, noting that it gives her great pleasure that this year’s award was given to a non-governmental organization that, through its work, makes a significant contribution to the culture of remembrance and the presentation of Jewish culture.
The “Remembering Hilda Dajč Award” was established last year on the occasion of commemorating the 80th anniversary of the murder of 6,500 Jewish prisoners of the concentration camp Staro Sajmiste in Belgrade.
Terraforming is one of the initiators of this independent civil society initiative.
Its main goal is to counter distortion, manipulation, and abuse of history for a populist and nationalist political agenda, to promote a meaningful and courageous culture of remembrance and activism that strengthens democratic values, human and civil rights, pluralism, and critical thinking.
We aim to ensure that this award becomes a sustainable, established tradition for years to come and to support and encourage young activism and a culture of remembrance.