Ambassador Shapira and the Director of the Holocaust Museum Michael Rothwell
Ambassador Shapira and the Director of the Holocaust Museum Michael RothwellCIP/CJP

The Jewish Community of Porto (CIP/CJP) brought thousands of Portuguese school children from around the country to The Holocaust Museum of Oporto (MHP) to educate them about the horrors of the Holocaust and teach them about the program, which was created in collaboration with the government "Nunca Esquecer, em torno da memória do Holocausto“ (Never Forget, around the memory of the Holocaust).

The event was opened by Israel’s Ambassador to the Portuguese Republic Dor Shapira who addressed the young attendees, saying the future belongs to them.

"The Holocaust must never be forgotten, particularly now when antisemitism is increasingly returning with great strength in many countries around the world," Ambassador Shapira said.

The teenagers came from Lisbon, Amadora, Coimbra, Mondim, Penafiel, Maia, and Águeda amongst many other cities, towns, and regions in Portugal.

They had the opportunity to visit the reproduction of the Auschwitz dormitories, as well as a name room, a flame memorial, a cinema, a conference room, a study center, and a timeline with photographs and screens showing real footage about how the Holocaust came about, before, during and after the tragedy.

"In this museum, we like to challenge our visitors, and see teenagers posing questions, especially asking how it was possible for the Holocaust to take place, and the Jews as victims of this tragedy," said Gabriel Senderowicz, the President of the Oporto Jewish Community that built and manages the museum.

The Holocaust Museum of Oporto was inaugurated in 2021 by the Jewish Community of Oporto in partnership with B’nai B’rith International and Holocaust museums around the world and welcomes annually around 50,000 visitors a year, the majority being school children.

"Unfortunately, there is a growing feeling that, in general, politicians are fed up with talking about the Holocaust, or when they do, they appropriate it for a narrow political agenda," President Senderowicz said. "We can see and feel that the true lessons of the Holocaust are being forgotten because Jews are not receiving the necessary protection, partly because they are perceived as powerful and oppressive. We want to change this perception by ensuring the next generation learns the truth about the Holocaust, and its lessons which remain relevant as antisemitism is reaching the highest levels since the end of the Second World War."

The MHP is supervised by members of the Jewish Community of Porto whose parents, grandparents, and relatives were victims of the Holocaust and is part of a strategy to combat antisemitism that already includes the Jewish Museum of Porto, school visits to the Porto Synagogue, courses for teachers, history films and charity actions in partnership with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Porto.

The Holocaust Museum of Oporto portrays Jewish life before the Holocaust, Nazism, Nazi expansion in Europe, the ghettos, refugees, concentration, labor, and extermination camps, the Final Solution, the Death Marches, Liberation, the Jewish population in the post-war period, the foundation of the State of Israel, and The Righteous among Nations.