UN Holocaust Memorial Day #WeRemember

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96-year-old Holocaust Refugee Miriam Kleineibst

UN International Holocaust Remembrance Day (HRD) is an international memorial day held on 27 January, the day that the Soviet forces liberated Auschwitz and discovered the horrors inside. 

Cape Town City Councillor Ronel Viljoen (Portfolio Chairperson Community and Health) and Cape Town city councillors commemorated the day with the Cape South African Jewish Board of Deputies. 

An unveiling of a series of mosaics depicting the Neue Synagogue in Berlin destroyed on Kristallnacht (The Night of Broken Glass) in 1937. The creation by the Herzlia High School art students — an artistic response to the trauma of their Holocaust history — was on display for a week at the Cape Town Civic Chambers to promote awareness of this important day. 

Guest of Honour, Jewish Holocaust survivor and refugee to South Africa, Miriam Kleineibst who described her family’s relief at eventually finding refuge here when she was just thirteen years old, “We landed! I was so happy to be in South Africa, the sense of freedom, being able to participate in daily life like everyone else! It was unbelievable!” Miriam, a remarkable 96 years old, spoke about the horrors of living in Nazi Germany and spoke fondly of Bochum, the coal mining village in Western Germany she had come from. 

She said “Bochum had a community of 1152 Jews who had been living there since 1349. The first synagogue was built in 1594, and it too was destroyed on Kristallnacht along with other Jewish communal buildings and schools. The Jewish community was diminished to about 40 people after the war. The rest had all perished in the Riga, Auschwitz and Theredienstadt Death Camps.”  She went on to say how horrified her family was when ten years later, in South Africa, the Nationalist government brought in Apartheid, copying the Nazi laws. Once again park benches, pools and cinemas were reserved for particular groups. Miriam ended her speech with a loud and resounding message “On this, the United National International Holocaust Remembrance Day, we must acknowledge the past both in Germany and South Africa and say NEVER AGAIN!”

To download the full PDF of the March Cape Jewish Chronicle, click here

To visit The Board of Deputies’ website, click here

To read the most read article of last month, click here

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