CURITIBA, Brazil – Brazil’s first Holocaust museum was inaugurated today in the capital city of the southern state of Parana. The museum was created by the Jewish community to keep alive the memory of the tragedy perpetrated by the Nazis in Europe before and during World War II. Museums similar to the one in Curitiba already exist in Argentina, Canada, South Africa, Australia, several European countries and in several of the United States.
Brazil’s First Holocaust Museum Opens
According to the museum coordinator, Carlos Reiss, the museum is populated with donated items – some of them replicas – from foreign institutions, such as Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, and objects donated by the Jewish community of Parana, who survived the genocide. The Holocaust museum collects documents, photographs and historical pieces as well as setting aside space to honor the victims and survivors.
“In addition to remembering and preserving the history, the main objective is to educate. Therefore, we developed an educational program especially for schools, involving tours and orientation to teachers and students,” said Reiss.
The president of the Association House of Culture Beit Yaacov, Miguel Krigsner, said that the choice of Curitiba to host the first Holocaust Museum is due to the fact that the state has a large number of Jews of European descent including 82 families of Holocaust survivors, of which 15 are still alive and contributing testimonial histories.
For him, the initiative seeks to “bring to light one of the saddest periods of the twentieth century. The museum will not target any ethnic group, has no political purpose, but rather, should lead to a reflection on the present moment, on intolerance and violence, that exists today towards, for instance, blacks and homosexuals,” he said.
He noted that the museum is also essential to clarify the story of the Holocaust to the younger population. “There are reports that the Holocaust didn’t happen. It was a Jewish lie. Much of my father’s family disappeared in Poland. Where did they go? Were they taken to another planet?” He asked.
The Holocaust Museum in Curitiba highlights the prewar period, known as the full Jewish life; during the war, showing the ghettos and concentration camps, resistance; and the post war years, in Europe, with the refugee camps, and the immigration routes, and arrival in Parana. The museum offers computer terminals for looking at documents, and digital audio and video about the history of items in the collection.
Among the exhibits are important historical pieces, like a piece of Torah, formally ceded by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, a food ration card in the amount of RM 1, used in Buchenwald, Germany, replicas of dolls used by children at the time, photographs and posters of Nazi propaganda, as a method of mass control and spread of an official anti-Semitic ideology by the government.
On the outside, stones brought from Jerusalem and Argentinean stained glass adorn the facade. Although the museum opened today, public visits will open to the public on February 12, and can always be scheduled at the site or by phone at least 24 hours in advance. One focus of the museum will be educating groups of students and scholars.
The coordinator of the museum, Charles Reiss, explained that the inauguration took place today in part to serve the national meeting of leaders of Israeli companies in Curitiba, Brazil. The time remaining until February, will be dedicated to flesh out the collection, still in a consolidation phase.
Those interested in donating or loaning objects can write to firstname.lastname@example.org, the same email used to book visits.