Holocaust centre aims to educate the young

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 May, 2012, 12:00am


A Holocaust education centre is to open in Hong Kong and aims to become a resource hub for the region.

The centre - temporarily located at Elsa High, the Jewish high school in Shau Kei Wan - will focus on educating about the massacre of more than six million Jews by the Nazi regime during the second world war.

'There is a good deal of interest coming out of China,' centre board member April Kaminsky said. 'I think what happened in Nanjing [the Nanking Massacre carried out by Japanese troops in 1937] makes it interesting and relevant for them.'

The Hong Kong Holocaust and Tolerance Centre was working with Yad Vashem, the world centre for Holocaust research and education in Jerusalem, Steven Spielberg's Shoah Foundation, and the Holocaust Museum in Washington, centre chairman Jeremy Amias said.

Yad Vashem last year organised a seminar for educators from Hong Kong, the mainland and Macau on the Holocaust, while the Shoah Foundation has been working with teachers affiliated with the Hong Kong centre to bring IWitness, an archive of testimonials by Holocaust survivors, to the region. More than 52,000 recordings in 32 languages, representing 56 countries, are available at Elsa High and HKUGA College in Wong Chuk Hang.

'If kids can learn about what happened during the Holocaust, then they'll be able to spot the warning signs and not make the same mistakes,' Kaminsky said.

The centre is now working with teachers to design a course on the Holocaust for local schools using material from IWitness.

'There's a module called the Individual and Society where it fits in perfectly,' said Wanda Huang, a teacher at HKUGA who has been working on the database.

'They do teach about the second world war in the local curriculum, but it's not an in-depth analysis. We want to teach tolerance and how to make a stand. The lessons from the Holocaust about the danger of being a bystander, there's a lot of value in that.'

About 200 students from Singapore International School, HKUGA and Hong Kong Academy are set to attend the centre's opening on May 14, which will feature a talk by Israel Meir Lau, the chief rabbi of Tel Aviv and chairman of Yad Vashem. A 38th generation rabbi, most of his family was killed during the Holocaust.

'Looking at how things are in the world, it could happen again. Look at what happened in Cambodia 30 years ago. It makes tolerance education important,' Kaminsky said.