The first Iberian museum of its kind was to open on January 27th, International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, however, with the museums closed because of Covid-19, this did not happen. But since the memory of the genocide is to be perpetual, after more than two months, the Holocaust Museum in Porto opens, and admission is free until the month of June.
It is on Rua do Campo Alegre that one will be able to see inside one of the most important events in history. The Jewish Community of Porto, whose parents, grandparents and family members were victims of the Nazis in World War II, reproduced the barracks at the Auschwitz death camp, a hall with the names of the victims, a memorial flame, but also a cinema, a conference hall and a study centre.
Like in the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC, in the United States, the space’s corridors want to tell the whole story of the persecution, torture and murder of more than six million people across Germany by Adolf Hitler through photographs and screens that show real footage about an event also known as "Shoah" or "Final Solution".
In 2013, the Jewish Community of Porto shared with the Holocaust Museum of the North American capital all the archives, that it had, regarding the refugees who passed through the city of Porto. These archives, now returned to the city, include official documents, testimonies, letters and hundreds of individual files. In the museum that now opens its doors, will also exhibit documents and objects, the Sifrei Torah (Torah scrolls), left by refugees in Porto’s Synagogue during the Second World War.
In the organisers’ words of the space, the Holocaust Museum in Porto presents “Jewish life before the Holocaust, Nazism, the Nazi expansion in Europe, the ghettos, refugees, concentration camps, labour and extermination camps, the Final Solution, the death marches, liberation, the post-war Jewish population, the foundation of the State of Israel, winning or starving, the righteous among the nations”.
The objective is also to invest in education, in the teacher training programmes, as well as promoting exhibitions, with a strong focus on research. On September 20th, for example, the first of these training programmes takes place, aimed at teachers and which will feature Holocaust survivors, as well as representatives of other museums of this kind around the world.
"Thousands of tourists are expected in the summer and around 10,000 school students are expected throughout the year," believes Josef Lassmann, a member of the Jewish Community of Porto, quoted in a statement. With free admission until June, the Holocaust Museum will be open on weekdays between 2:30 pm and 5:30 pm.
Municipality joins the Never Forget Project
Related to the same theme, it should be noted that the Porto City Hall joined the National Programme concerning the Memory of the Holocaust – Nunca Esquecer (Never Forget) Project, launched on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the rescue by the Consul of Portugal in Bordeaux, Aristides de Sousa Mendes, of thousands of men, women and children, many of them Jews.
The Programme recalls and condemns the terror and destruction of the dramatic years of World War II, the extermination of millions of Jews, including more than one million children, and the persecution and death of thousands of so many others considered “undesirable” - among they, gypsies, citizens with disabilities, homosexuals, intellectuals and political opponents.
It is also the objective of this programme, to evoke the suffering of the victims, including Portuguese citizens detained in forced labour camps, in Nazi concentration camps and those who were taken prisoner of war, without forgetting the waves of refugees who sought shelter in Portugal during the war, and the courageous action of Portuguese saviours.