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German diplomat reminds not to stop teaching the Holocaust

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The Charge D’Affaires of the German Embassy, Klaus Streicher, brought a strong message to the Yom Hashoah commemoration in Pretoria of ensuring the Holocaust is not forgotten, and always taught to the new generations so it can never happen again.
by DIANE WOLFSON | Apr 28, 2017

“Our message to new generations against the passage of time is and must remain our common goal, as we witness a new rise of nationalism and xenophobia in many parts of this world”, he said.

Speaking to diplomats, politicians, Christian Friends of Israel, school children and others in the Pretoria shul complex last weekend, he said: “We are immensely grateful to the Jewish community here, in Israel and all over the world for reaching out to us and helping us to teach the past to future generations, to alert them that the horrors of the past may be unthinkable today, but that this does not make them impossible tomorrow.”

For the German Government, “active remembrance is also expressed in its historic responsibility for Israel’s security. This responsibility is and will remain a cornerstone of German policy.”

 Israel’s Deputy Ambassador to South Africa, Ayellet Black, said that Yom Hashoah has always been unfathomable, intangible and unimaginable. When visiting the camps where it took place, it appeared unreal. It was not what she saw that managed to connect her to the tremendous loss, but what she did not see.

“I did not see a synagogue full of the people who once lived there. I did not see the plays that the communities had written. I did not see the children going to schools that used to stand there.  

“The silence, the void, of six million lives - children, mothers, fathers, doctors, comedians - people, is what you do not hear, loud and clear. The voices of the brave survivors should be heard louder, and more often. Their stories must resonate with us, reverberate through to the generations that will not meet them.”

Louis Pearlman, chairman of the Pretoria Council of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies emphasised that the root cause of anti-Semitism remains as rampant as ever, “simmering under the surfaces of Europe, the UK, the US and the Middle East as an ever-present threat - a constant reminder of the prejudices and hatred directed towards the Jews for over 2 000 years. With the passing of time, only the reasons have changed; the bigotry itself endures.”

Six memorial lamps were lit by representatives of the various organisations in Pretoria, in memory of the six million Jews who perished. Holocaust survivor Veronica Phillips lit the seventh lamp to acknowledge the past and the belief in the continuation of future generations. 

High school learners Nir Levi, Galit and Ariella Harris, in the shul ceremony, read out the names of children who were murdered during the Holocaust.

Sara Malka Fox, a matric learner, brought a message on behalf of the youth, stating that the profound effect of the visit to the Children’s Museum attached to Yad Vashem, left her deeply aware of the necessity to perpetuate the memory and legacy of at least a single child of the overall six million who died in the Holocaust. 

“What is the purpose of simply remembering the Holocaust as an unimaginable part of our history?” Fox stated rhetorically and then explained that “these myriads lessons are the stepping stones for our growth as a nation”.

Holocaust survivor Veronica Phillips, born in Budapest in 1926, told of her survival in the international ghettos in Budapest, Ravensbrück, Penig and Johanngeorgenstadt concentration camps, as well as the death march. 

Her father was murdered and her cousins shot in front of her, but she, her mother and brother survived.

She met her husband, who had been in forced labour since 1940, on his return to Budapest after the war, one of only five survivors. They moved to England and when her brother was offered a job in South Africa, they joined him. 

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