Vendulka: A CEERES of Voices conversation with Ondřej Kundra

International House

Vendulka: A CEERES of Voices Conversation with Ondřej Kundra

Friday, April 29 2022 at 6PM
Photography exhibition begins 5:30PM

International House Assembly Hall
1414 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637


To register:
Advance registration is preferred but not required.

  • Persons with disabilities who may need assistance should contact International House in advance of the program at 773-753-2274 or
  • Please note that the main entrance to International House is currently for residents only. Attendees should use the door on South Dorchester Ave to enter the Assembly Hall. 

About the Book

book cover

Translated by Gerald Turner

So many lives were cut short by the Holocaust, many with no trace to leave behind for future generations to remember. Vendulka tells the story of a single scrap of remembrance—a candid photograph taken in the midst of this unspeakable tragedy—and that artifact’s amazing aftermath.

Famed Czech photographer Jan Lukas snapped an offhand portrait of twelve-year-old Vendulka Vogl in March 1943. A friend of the Vogls, Lukas was saying goodbye to the family, who were soon to leave Prague for a concentration camp. The photograph almost didn’t see the light of day—Lukas knew that if the Nazis found it on him, he could wind up in the camps as well—but the image was eventually developed and came to symbolize the Holocaust and humanize its victims. Seventy years after this famous picture was taken, investigative journalist Ondřej Kundra discovered that, despite all odds, Vendulka Vogl had survived the camps of Terezín, Auschwitz, and Christianstadt, and was in fact still alive and living in the United States. Kundra persuaded her to tell the remarkable story surrounding the photograph: her survival, her later decision to flee the Communist regime for America, and how she later reconnected with Jan Lukas, maintaining a lifelong friendship.

Vogl’s thrillingly moving story, Kundra’s sharp and engaging writing, and Lukas’s striking photography all combine to make Vendulka an inspiring investigation into the horrors of totalitarianism and the redemptive beauty of friendship.

About the Author

Ondřej Kundra

Ondřej Kundra is a journalist who, since 1999, has been working for Respekt, where he is a deputy editor-in-chief. He has won numerous journalism awards for political analysis and investigative reporting, including the prestigious Ferdinand Peroutka Prize. He is the author of Meda Mládková’s biography My Amazing Life (2014), a book about Russian spies; Putin’s Agents(2016), which was turned by Czech Radio into a radio book, and for which he received a nomination for the Magnesia Litera award. Together with Tomáš Lindner, he wrote the documentary book My Son the Terrorist (2017). His last book is Novichok or bullet (2021) about the dirty operations of Russian intelligence.

About the Interlocutor

Bożena Shallcross

Professor Bożena Shallcross in her work reassesses the intersection of the once fundamental division between the seeing subject and the objectual sphere in literature, the visual arts, and the phenomenal world. The scope of this research extends from the last stage of Polish symbolist poetry and its ekphrastic reassessments of Western European visual arts to the late modernist destabilization of the poetic subject and art-object divide, which she explores from the perspective of (post)sublime encountersHer most recently published monograph, The Holocaust Object in Polish and Polish-Jewish Culture from Indiana University Press, explores the precarious ontology of everyday objects in the extreme conditions of the Holocaust. She is currently working on two monographs--Inscriptions and Other Marks and The Witness and Selfhood: Kulmhof-am-Ner Extermination Camp and Its Survivors, as well as editing an anthology entitled Creative Expression and Polish Chicago.