JHCG getting ready to officially ‘open for business’

  • JHGC
It’s a frantic hive of activity at the near-completed Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre (JHGC) in Forest Town, in Johannesburg these days.
by MARGOT COHEN | Mar 02, 2016

Pictured: Tali Nates, director of the JHGC.

The Centre will open officially in April, but events have already begun, says director Tali Nates.

The exhibitions - both temporary and permanent - are being put in place, the coffee shop and library are being erected and a full programme of lectures, film screenings and commemorations for the year are being planned.

The Centre seeks to raise awareness of the evils of genocide with particular focus on the Holocaust in Europe and the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

The first exhibition starting this month will be Germany’s confrontation with the Holocaust in a global context.

One of the Centre’s main functions is to serve as a hub for educational programmes, addressing issues of prejudice, racism and xenophobia and the dangers they pose to freedom and democracy.

Says Nates: “It is envisioned that the new Centre will be a vibrant place of learning, memory and lessons for humanity, where young and old from all walks of life come together to learn from the histories of genocide.”

Replying as to why the Centre chooses to focus in addition to the Holocaust, also on the Rwandan genocide and not on other genocides, Nates says: “In April 1994, the very year that South Africa voted in a new democratic government, gruesome killings were taking place on our doorstep in Rwanda,

“Here more than 800 000 minority Tutsis were murdered by Hutu extremists.

“The world, including South Africa, chose not to intervene. The exhibitions featuring Rwanda and the Holocaust will be separate; the two case studies are running side by side.

“Apart from the rich education and public programmes, the Centre also works with Holocaust and Rwandan genocide survivors.”

Nates says the Rwandan survivors group have been meeting for two years with a group of dedicated JHGC volunteers, bringing to the fore relevant issues that Rwandans have had to confront. The co-ordinators are Trudy Friedland and Bonaventure Kageruka.

There are more than 50 volunteers who are involved in varied activities, including educating the educators and learners, running workshops, showing films, setting up a research centre, arranging events, commemorations and organising survivors’ meetings.

“Already several thousand teachers and learners have been exposed to workshops about the Holocaust. Now they will be coming to the newly-built Centre. The national curriculum for grades 9 and 11 includes Nazi Germany and Holocaust studies.

“We are committed to fulfil the need to assist provincial education departments and educators with its human rights curriculum[MC1]  and thus contribute to a more caring society in which human rights and diversity are respected,” explains Nates.

This is the first centre of its kind that brings together stories of genocide across two continents.

Born to a family of Holocaust survivors, Nates’ father and uncle were saved by Oscar Schindler.

* To contact the JHGC, call (011) 640-3100 or e-mail the Centre on [email protected]

 


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