Recognizing the extraordinary courage of victims and survivors of the Holocaust
26 January 2024
Survivors of the Holocaust
Every year on the 27 January, the United Nations pays homage to the courage of those who defied the Nazis, despite its immense risks. Their remarkable stories and history will be honored, as we strive to counter Holocaust denial, antisemitism, and racism in memory of all victims and survivors. To mark the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, the United Nations in South Africa participated in an outreach activity in collaboration with Education Africa with learners from Masibambane College in Orange farm at the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre.
” Today, we pause to mourn the six million Jewish children, women, and men systematically murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators – and we grieve the Roma and Sinti, the people with disabilities, and so many others who were persecuted and killed in the Holocaust. We honor their memory. We stand with the survivors, their families and descendants. We pledge never to forget – nor let others forget the truth of what happened. And we recognize the horrific resonance this day of commemoration finds in our own times. The antisemitic hate that fueled the Holocaust did not start with the Nazis, nor did it end with their defeat.”
- United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres.
Eunice Namugwe and Marubini Muswede from the UN in South Africa, facilitated an educational session for the learners, focusing on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the significance of collaborative individual actions to effect community change, and the roles of specific UN agencies in South Africa. Commencing with a screening of the UN Secretary-General's message on this year's Holocaust Remembrance and its emphasis on global peace, the session engaged participants through interactive quizzes, offering prizes to competitive learners.
The Holocaust Centre and Education Africa jointly delivered a presentation on the historical events of the Holocaust, featuring video footages depicting the occurrences. The learners were guided through a museum tour, and they had the privilege of listening to Irene Klass, a Holocaust survivor, as she recounted her life experiences.
“I was an only child; my parents were well off, and I lacked nothing. My parents were assimilated Jews and we lived in Lodz, which was not predominantly Jewish, my parents didn’t speak Yiddish at home, only Polish. When antisemitism started in Poland and my father could not import anymore, my mother opened a card club that was doing very well until the war broke out.”
-Irene Klass, survivor of the Holocaust.
The United Nations stresses the international community’s collective responsibility to address trauma from genocide through effective remembrance policies, preservation of historical sites, and education. Lessons from the Holocaust contribute to a more just, tolerant world aligned with SDGs, emphasizing the need for collective action to prevent future atrocities and promote inclusivity.
As the world commemorated this day, the UN congratulated Tali Nates on being awarded The Secretary of State’s International Religious Freedom” in the United States. Ms. Nates leverages her personal story and her position as the founder and director of the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre to inoculate South Africans especially youth from growing rhetoric that dehumanizes vulnerable groups. https://www.state.gov/international-religious-freedom-awards/