Today, Friday 26 January, the Holocaust Museum of Oporto, Portugal marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day, in an event that included the participation of over two thousand students of dozens of schools from the north to the south of Portugal. The ceremony was brought forward by one day, as 27January is Shabbat for the Jewish community.
The Museum prepared a programme so that each school could make its own tribute to the six million Jewish victims of genocide. A candle was lit in the Room of Names, a space filled with the names of tens of thousands of people who were victims of murder. The candle-lighting ceremony was repeated throughout the day, school by school.
Michael Rothwell, the Museum’s director and the grandson of German Jews murdered in Auschwitz, said that “each year we are visited by about 50 thousand adolescents from schools all over the country, corresponding annually to about 5% of all Portuguese adolescents. Here, they interact with us and we feel they really like us."
The Holocaust Museum of Oporto, the only one on the Iberian Peninsula, received 150 thousand visits in less than three years, overwhelmingly from school students. The space does not only tell what happened before, during and after the Holocaust, it also presents a representation of the dormitories in Auschwitz extermination camp, as well as documents and objects belonging to the refugees who passed through Oporto when they fled.
For reasons of security, the Museum has only been open to schools and not to the general public since 7 October 2023, because of the massacre in Israel. Today’s initiative was carried out under strong security measures.