Letter from the director of the CT Holocaust & Genocide Centre

In the same way that the recollection of apartheid’s inhumanities is helping to heal and reconcile the South African people, so the memory of the Holocaust will strengthen the foundations upon which we are building a nation. ” – Nelson Mandela, at the opening of the Cape Town Holocaust & Genocide Centre, 1999.

Dear Friends and Partners of the Cape Town Holocaust & Genocide Centre,

Twenty-five years ago, with the unwavering work, dedication, and support of many individuals, the Cape Town Holocaust Centre opened its doors, becoming the very first Holocaust Centre in all of Africa. Since its inception, the Centre’s mission has been to provide accessible and free education about the Holocaust and other genocides while actively combating homophobia, xenophobia, racism, and bigotry.

Over the years, the Centre has welcomed more than 500,000 visitors, including over 200,000 learners and over 15,000 teachers from South African schools. Its diligent efforts led to the inclusion of Holocaust studies in the curriculum of all South African schools, paving the way for the establishment of Holocaust & Genocide Centres in Durban and Johannesburg.

Thank you for being part of our journey.

As we begin celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Cape Town Holocaust Centre in the coming months, we will also recognize the 30th anniversaries of two pivotal events. In 1994, the collapse of the apartheid government marked the birth of a new democratic South Africa, while in Rwanda the mass killing of Tutsi began, resulting in over 800,000 deaths within a harrowing 100-day period.

In 2024, it is crucial to acknowledge changing realities, including the imminent departure of the last Holocaust survivors and the arrival of new generations carrying their own traumas. Whether related to the genocide in Rwanda, Apartheid, the wars in Ukraine or Israel, or a palpable sense of fear associated with being an immigrant or a member of a religious or sexual minority, our world is increasingly facing hostility, homophobia, antisemitism, and xenophobia.

Holocaust and Genocide museums worldwide play a vital role in this context — deconstructing myths and processes that led to past acts of persecution and mass violence while fostering resilience and instilling a sense of responsibility for the future.

Join us at the Cape Town Holocaust & Genocide Centre as we commemorate and celebrate these significant anniversaries. Please stay tuned for information about our special programming for this year and consider supporting the Centre to ensure we can sustain our mission of providing free education about the Holocaust and Genocide to individuals across all of Africa.

Join us in making a difference. 

Jakub Nowakowski

Director, Cape Town Holocaust & Genocide Centre

Cape Town Holocaust and Genocide Centre: https://ctholocaust.co.za/, admin@holocaust.org.za

• Published in the February 2024 issue – Click here to start reading.

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