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Believe in Humankindness

28 January 2018

The Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey, H.E Mrs Elif Çomoğlu Ülgen, hosted the film premiere “The Story of Lina Amato” in commemoration of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Johnathan Andrews, the South African film maker was present at the premiere to give an account of the making of the film, how it came about and the experience of working with Lina Amato in telling her very unique, very moving story. Lina, who lives in Cape Town, is one of very few holocaust survivors.

Photo: (l-r) Ambassador Beka Dvali of Georgia, Richard Cock - Conductor, Mrs. Sabina Naghiyeva, Mrs Nino Lezhava, Ambassador Elif Çomoğlu Ülgen of Turkey, Charge d’Affaires Azad Naghiyev of Azerbaijan, Kirtan Bhana - Founding Editor of The Diplomatic Society and Florian Uhlig - Artistic Director of the Johannesburg International Mozart Festival

Richard Freedman, Director of the South African Holocaust and Genocide Foundation gives a historic account of events that took place during World War II in the documentary and gives the events experienced by Lina context.



Explaining what the International Holocaust Remembrance Day signifies, Ambassador Elif Çomoğlu Ülgen said that on 27 January 1945, 73 years ago, the people in Auschwitz,  the biggest concentration camp ever created for human beings, were freed by the Red Army of the Soviet Union.  It was only in 2005 that the United Nations declared 27 January as International Holocaust Remembrance Day and Ambassador Elif Çomoğlu Ülgen said that as humankind we have a duty to remember.

This project began with a chance meeting between Ambassador Kaan Esener (the previous Ambassador of Turkey) and Lina Amato at the Cape Town Holocaust and Genocide Centre on 6 April 2016 at the screening of the documentary “Turkish Passport”. Lina showed Ambassador Kaan her Turkish passport which saved her life and this was the beginning of the project which was taken over and completed by Ambassador Elif Çomoğlu Ülgen and Johnathan Andrews.


The Story of Lina Amato explores the rare account of how the interventions of Selahattin Ülkümen,  the Turkish Consul-General on Rhodes Island, Greece, saved 42 Jews from deportation by the Nazis, to Auschwitz during July 1944 during World War II.

The film is an honest and unforgettable fragment of history, beautifully presented and told from Lina’s heart as she speaks about her time spent on Rhodes Island as a child and how she and her family were saved through the efforts of Selahattin Ülkümen.  

To save her life, Lina was adopted by a Christian couple and in the documentary she says that she was a Jew saved by a Christian and a Muslim.  With all the conflicts in the world caused by religion Lina says that she has renounced her religion and now believes in humanity.



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