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               A sixteen-year-old Sala from Sosnowec in Poland journeys through seven Nazi labor camps in the course of the WWII. During those five years of slavery and hunger, she hoards and zealously safeguards from the Nazis a vast and lovingly tended collection of 352 letters, documents and photographs from her family, friends and from Harry. She falls in love for the first time in the labor camp Gross Paniow and it is Harry’s promise of love and reunion in Prague after the war that keeps her alive. She knows very well that if the Nazis were to find even one letter on her, her life is on the line. She spends almost three years in her last Nazi camp, a subdivision of the concentration camp Gross-Rossen, in Žacléř, where she is freed by the Soviet troops in 1945. That camp in Žacléř is demolished straight after the war, probably to erase all memory of it, and the Schmelt labor camps, the cruel treatment, its victims and the later fates of the Jewish girls slaving there are all forgotten for several decades. Sala finds Harry in Prague, but he would not see her. The heart-broken Sala searches for her family and on the way she meets Sidney, a young American soldier who falls in love with her and claims her as his war bride to take home to the USA. Sala Kirchner protects the secrets of her past for almost half a century until she is 67 and she hands her letters down to her daughter Ann.

Key words: First love, First betrayal, Hunger, Hope, Death, Life, Holocaust, Hitler, Nazis, WWII, Concentration camps, Labor camps, Friendship, Family, Life story, True story

MA Karin Venhauer

Current Job Title

Film Director, Scriptwriter

Current Organisation
Freelance artist

What are you most passionate about and engaged with and why?

I am passionate about educational projects with true life stories. I think that education is very important for us to grow and progress and we need to live in a well-organized society which satisfies the needs of everyone, from the poorest to the richest.

Karin Venhauer

How have you helped to create positive change in your community, country or organisation?
I believe in storytelling, and its power to inspire other people and future generations. The real power of stories comes from experiences in our individual everyday lives that may appear miniscule but hold such a high level of importance that is often overlooked.  What have I done and what am I doing? I organized the publishing of the Sala’s Gift book in Czech.  About 3,500 books were published in the Czech Republic. I am working on pre-production of my projects and films! For example, one film, which I want to direct, is about my heroine Sala. During the WWII the young Sala (sixteen years old) was in seven labor camps for five years and saved more than 350 letters and photos, which she hid until 1991. My next project is a documentary film called Dissident’s music, which is about my teacher and old friend Zdenek Trnka, who is 91 years old. He is a composer and makes classical music that is pure genius! I want to help him stage international public concerts of his music. He has composed music for poetry by Jaroslav Seifert (who won the Nobel Prize in literature), by Halek, Nezval and other famous Czech poets. Thanks to Zdenek’s music and these concerts children and the general public could find out more about the Czech tradition of excellent poetry. 
Me and my team organized two big music concerts called "Songs by Zdenek Trnka & Poems by Jaroslav Seifert" (2013) and "Anniversary concert – Zdenek Trnka’s 90th Birthday" (2015) in the Czech Republic. The songs and music were played at the concerts for elementary and high school students, and the general public. 

What are your plans to further increase your social impact over the next two years?

I have many plans, for example to publish Zdenek Trnka’s memoirs. I would like to work and continue shooting my documentary films: Sala’s Gift and Dissident’s music. In addition, I would like to finish my script for a feature film Sala’s Gift and I wish to be the Film Director of this story. 

How have you demonstrated leadership?

My team had successfully published the Czech translation of Sala’s Gift by Ann Kirschner under my leadership. We managed to organize two launch ceremonies for the book in Prague and in Trutnov, both accompanied with open debates for students and the general public.  A book trailer was produced and showed at both events. We successfully staged two concerts of Zdenek Trnka’s music to showcase his songs, and choir, orchestral and piano music. 

How have you demonstrated innovation?
By publishing the Czech translation of the book Sala’s Gift and shooting my documentary film, the Czechs were reminded that there were Nazi camps in our region that were gradually forgotten because the Nazis destroyed them right after the war. The Zdenek Trnka’s concerts premiered most of his music as no-one had heard them officially before as he was in dissent during the Communism and he couldn’t publish or play his own music. This is the core of what I do – I reveal old hidden things and show old truths anew. 

Skills and Expertise
Film making 

University Attended
Film Academy of Miroslav Ondříček in Písek

Qualification Gained
Master degree

Other training
Teacher's certificate

Country representing
Czech Republic




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