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No Night So Dark: the Story of the Wels Family

25 January 2021 6:00 pm

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Ida, Martin, Tomáš & Rudolf on holiday in Binz, early 1930s

One family’s story of memory stolen and regained

Online Talk

To coincide with Holocaust Memorial Day 2021, No Night So Dark will tell the remarkable story of the Czech-Jewish Wels family, from the late nineteenth century through World War Two to the present day. When Oxford-based Colin Wels first opened a box that his father Tomáš had kept for decades in the back of a cupboard, he had little idea what it contained.  His father – the only family member to survive the Holocaust – had never spoken about his life before he came to Britain as a 19-year-old in 1939. Through the contents of the box, made up of hundreds of letters and documents, photographs, sketches and drawings, the immense creative energy of several generations of the family was brought to life.

This event will include a discussion chaired by Prague-based journalist David Vaughan with Tomáš’s son Colin Wels and translator Gerry Turner, who played a key role in helping Colin to find a way back to his family’s past, and marks the recent publication of “Sancta Familia”, a humorous – but with hindsight, hugely poignant – evocation of family life, written in late 1938 by Tomáš and illustrated by his 13-year-old brother Martin.

The boys’ father, Rudolf Wels, was an accomplished architect in interwar Czechoslovakia, who studied in Vienna and worked closely with Adolf Loos. Loos was also the architect of the Winternitz Villa in Prague, which recently housed the exhibition “No Night So Dark”, devoted to the Wels family’s story. There are plans to bring the exhibition to Berlin, Munich and London.

This event is held in partnership with The Czech Centre, London.

To book, click here.