A Holocaust Memorial, Spoken at School

In addition to being the last day before our spring break, this was also our Holocaust Memorial day. Hungary’s Holocaust memorial falls on April 16; since that falls in our spring break, we commemorated it today.

The music teacher, Andrea Barnáné Bende, had envisioned an event where we (the whole school) would gather in the courtyard and recite János Pilinszky’s “Ravensbrücki passió.” Before this, there would be music; afterwards, a minute of silence; then music again and the conclusion of the ceremony.

She was dedicated to bringing this about: helping students learn the poem, announcing the event many times, stressing its importance, talking about it with individual colleagues, and reminding us of it at the last minute. I memorized the poem about ten days beforehand and brought it to my students numerous times. Other teachers did the same. And there were students who took the lead in learning the poem and leading the recitation.

I had no idea how focused and moving this would be. Thanks to Andrea and the whole school.

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  1. Andrew James Chandler

     /  April 15, 2022

    The reason that Hungary commemorates 16th April as its Holocaust Memorial Day is that it is the date of the Nazi occupation of Hungary, which its Regent agreed to in 1944. Orbán chose it about ten years ago in an attempt to blame the Holocaust in Hungary solely on Germany. In fact, the 440,000 deportations of Hungarian Jews and Roma which followed that date, and the advent of a handful of SS staff in Budapest under Eichmann. These were carried out entirely by the Hungarian Gendarmerie, but you’d be lucky to hear anyone referring to that fact.


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  • “To know that you can do better next time, unrecognizably better, and that there is no next time, and that it is a blessing there is not, there is a thought to be going on with.”

    —Samuel Beckett, Malone Dies

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  • Pilinszky Event (3/20/2022)



    Diana Senechal is the author of Republic of Noise: The Loss of Solitude in Schools and Culture and the 2011 winner of the Hiett Prize in the Humanities, awarded by the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture. Her second book, Mind over Memes: Passive Listening, Toxic Talk, and Other Modern Language Follies, was published by Rowman & Littlefield in October 2018. In April 2022, Deep Vellum published her translation of Gyula Jenei's 2018 poetry collection Mindig Más.

    Since November 2017, she has been teaching English, American civilization, and British civilization at the Varga Katalin Gimnázium in Szolnok, Hungary. From 2011 to 2016, she helped shape and teach the philosophy program at Columbia Secondary School for Math, Science & Engineering in New York City. In 2014, she and her students founded the philosophy journal CONTRARIWISE, which now has international participation and readership. In 2020, at the Varga Katalin Gimnázium, she and her students released the first issue of the online literary journal Folyosó.


    On April 26, 2016, Diana Senechal delivered her talk "Take Away the Takeaway (Including This One)" at TEDx Upper West Side.

    Here is a video from the Dallas Institute's 2015 Education Forum.  Also see the video "Hiett Prize Winners Discuss the Future of the Humanities." 

    On April 19–21, 2014, Diana Senechal took part in a discussion of solitude on BBC World Service's programme The Forum.  

    On February 22, 2013, Diana Senechal was interviewed by Leah Wescott, editor-in-chief of The Cronk of Higher Education. Here is the podcast.


    All blog contents are copyright © Diana Senechal. Anything on this blog may be quoted with proper attribution. Comments are welcome.

    On this blog, Take Away the Takeaway, I discuss literature, music, education, and other things. Some of the pieces are satirical and assigned (for clarity) to the satire category.

    When I revise a piece substantially after posting it, I note this at the end. Minor corrections (e.g., of punctuation and spelling) may go unannounced.

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