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Thousands of children in Portugal visit Holocaust Museum on Yom Hashoah

“The Holocaust must never be forgotten, particularly now when antisemitism is returning with great strength in many countries around the world,” said Israeli Ambassador Dor Shapira.

Israel’s Ambassador to the Portuguese Republic Dor Shapira with the director of the Holocaust Museum Michael Rothwell at a program on Yom Hashoah held at the Holocaust Museum of Oporto on April 18, 2023. Credit: CIP/CJP.
Israel’s Ambassador to the Portuguese Republic Dor Shapira with the director of the Holocaust Museum Michael Rothwell at a program on Yom Hashoah held at the Holocaust Museum of Oporto on April 18, 2023. Credit: CIP/CJP.

The Jewish Community of Porto (CIP/CJP) brought thousands of Portuguese schoolchildren from around the country to the Holocaust Museum of Oporto on April 18, Yom Hashoah, to educate them about the horrors of the Holocaust and teach them about the program, which was created in collaboration with the government “Nunca Esquecer, em torno da memória do Holocausto” (“Never Forget, around the memory of the Holocaust”).

The event was opened by Israel’s Ambassador to the Portuguese Republic Dor Shapira, who addressed the young attendees, saying the future belongs to them. “The Holocaust must never be forgotten, particularly now when antisemitism is increasingly returning with great strength in many countries around the world,” he said.

The teenagers came from Lisbon, Amadora, Coimbra, Mondim, Penafiel, Maia and Águeda, among many other cities, towns and regions in the country.

They had the opportunity to visit the reproduction of the Auschwitz dormitories, as well as a name room; flame memorial; a cinema; conference room; study center; and a timeline with photographs and screens showing real footage about how the Holocaust came about, before during and after the tragedy.

“In this museum, we like to challenge our visitors and see teenagers posing questions, especially asking how it was possible for the Holocaust to take place,” said Gabriel Senderowicz, president of the Oporto Jewish Community that built and manages the museum.

The Holocaust Museum of Oporto was inaugurated in 2021 by the Jewish Community of Oporto in partnership with B’nai B’rith International and Holocaust museums around the world. It has so far welcomed 50,000 visitors a year, the majority being schoolchildren.

“Unfortunately, there is a growing feeling that, in general, politicians are fed up with talking about the Holocaust or when they do, they appropriate it for a narrow political agenda,” said Senderowicz. “We can see and feel that the true lessons of the Holocaust are being forgotten because Jews are not receiving the necessary protection, partly because they are perceived as powerful and oppressive. We want to change this perception by ensuring the next generation learns the truth about the Holocaust, and its lessons which remain relevant as antisemitism is reaching the highest levels since the end of the Second World War.”

The Holocaust Museum of Oporto is supervised by members of the Jewish Community of Porto whose parents, grandparents and relatives were victims of the Holocaust. It is part of a strategy to combat antisemitism that already includes the Jewish Museum of Porto, school visits to the Porto Synagogue, courses for teachers, history films and charity actions in partnership with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Porto.

The museum portrays Jewish life before the Holocaust; Nazism; Nazi expansion in Europe; the ghettos; refugees; concentration, labor and extermination camps; the Final Solution; death marches; liberation; the Jewish population in the post-war period; the foundation of the State of Israel; and the Righteous Among Nations.

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