Cape Town, 28 January 2019: UN International Holocaust Remembrance Day (HRD) is an international memorial day held on 27 January the day that the Soviet forces liberated Auschwitz and discovered the horrors inside. Cape Town City Councillor Ronel Viljoen (Portfolio Chairperson Community and Health) and Cape Town City councillors commemorated the day with the Cape Jewish Board of Deputies. An unveiling of a series of mosaics depicting the Neue Synagogue in Berlin destroyed on Kristallnacht (The Night of Broken Glass) in 1937. The creation by the Herzlia High School art students - an artistic response to the trauma of their Holocaust history - will be on display for a week at the Cape Town City Chambers to promote awareness of this important day.
UN International Holocaust Remembrance Day commemorates the tragedy of the Holocaust and honours the victims of Nazism, including Jews, Poles, Roma, Soviet prisoners of war, LGBQTI people, the handicapped and others. It also rejects all forms of Holocaust denial and encourages all its member states, including South Africa, to adopt and promote Holocaust education programmes.
Guest of Honour, Jewish Holocaust survivor and refugee to South Africa, Miriam Kleinebscht who described her family's relief at eventually finding refuge in South Africa when she was just a young thirteen year old girl, “We landed! I was so happy to be in South Africa, the sense of freedom, being able to participate in daily life like everyone else! It was unbelievable!” Miriam a remarkable 96 years old, spoke about the horrors of living in Nazi Germany and spoke fondly of Bochum, the coal mining village in Western Germany she had come from. She said “Bochum had a community of 1152 Jews who had been living there since 1349. The first synagogue was built in 1594, and it too was destroyed on Krisallnacht along with other Jewish communal buildings and schools. The Jewish community was diminished to about 40 people after the war. The rest had all perished in the Riga, Auschwitz and Theredienstadt Death Camps.” She went on to say how horrified her family was when ten years later, in South Africa, the Nationalist government brought in Apartheid, copying the Nazi laws. Once again park benches, pools and cinemas were reserved for particular groups. Mariam ended her speech with a loud and resounding message “On this, the United National International Holocaust Remembrance Day, we must acknowledge the past both in Germany and South Africa and say NEVER AGAIN!"
Rael Kaimowitz, Chairman of the Cape SAJBD explains the significance of this day further, “It is vital that we remember that past. What begins with Jews, doesn’t end with Jews. Hitler’s Final Solution was designed to kill every Jew and it ultimately consumed, Europe’s handicapped, its gypsies, homosexuals and religious dissidents. History shows that when there is an increase in antisemitism, there is an increase in prejudice against other minority communities including Islamaphobia and attacks on all minorities culture. It is early warning sign of collective breakdown in society.” He continues “It is a reminder of where racism and discrimination can lead. And with racism on the rise in South Africa, this is an important reminder. There should be no place for hate in this country.”
Notes to editors:
About International Holocaust Remembrance Day
· The United Nations set 27 January as International Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2005.
· The Nov. 1, 2005, resolution honours the victims of Nazism, including Jews, Poles, Roma, Soviet prisoners of war and others. 6 million Jews and millions of others minorities were murdered on orders of the Nazis who ruled Germany from 1933 through the end of World War II in 1945.
· About 2,200 people attended first commemoration in 2006 at the U.N. Headquarters in New York City.
· Since 2010, the U.N. has designated themes for each year’s commemorations focusing on some aspect of the Holocaust, according to the museum. This year’s theme is “torn from home”.
· See António Guterres (UN Secretary-General) on the Holocaust Remembrance Day (27 January 2019)http://webtv.un.org/watch/antónio-guterres-un-secretary-general-on-the-holocaust-remembrance-day-24-january-2019/5993519288001/
COUNTRY COMPARISONS, 2015-2018: Total Antisemitic Incidents by Country
2015 2016 2017 2018
South Africa: 54 43 44 61
Australia: 190 210 230 366
Canada: 1277 1728 1752 n.a.
France: 808 335 311 n.a.
UK: 924 1309 1382 727* (January-June only)