Pretoria, 9 March – “Why was there so much hatred towards the Jews?” was one of the questions asked by students during an educational programme on the Holocaust, held in Tshepana Primary School in Orange Farm, a poor township south of Johannesburg in South Africa.
UNIC Pretoria, together with the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre and the NGO, Education Africa, brought together 250 high school students from various schools around Orange Farm on 29 January 2015 to mark UN Holocaust Remembrance Day and to demonstrate the relevance of the lessons from the Holocaust to their lives.
Yiftach Ashkenazy from the Yad Vashem International School for Holocaust Studies described the horrendous experiences of Jews and other victims of Nazi terror, focusing on the survivors after liberation from the concentration camps, who often had no place to go and no family left.
The programme aimed to prompt students to think about current problems, including discrimination, xenophobia and violations of human rights, by engaging with the past.
One of the educators from the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre, Arlene Sher, discussed ways to make right and informed decisions in order to create better communities and more responsible citizens.
UNIC Pretoria Director Helene Hoedl highlighted the need for ongoing study of the Holocaust and its lessons as an important way to teach and promote respect for universal human rights and prevent future genocides.
The educational programme at Orange Farm was one of several activities organized by UNIC Pretoria and its partners to mark the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust in South Africa.