The first of its type in the Iberian Peninsula, the Museum of the Holocaust was scheduled to open on 27th January, the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. However, owing to the pandemic restriction measures, museums had to close doors. The Museum of the Holocaust inaugurated on 5th April and entrance is free until June.
The museum is located at Rua do Campo Alegre, nearby the Kadoorie synagogue, and it testifies to one of the most significant events in the history of mankind. The Jewish community in Porto, whose parents, grandparents and relatives were the victims of the Nazis, during World War II, established the Musuem of the Holocaust, where they recreated the dorms at Auschwitz Concentration Camp, a room with the name of the victims, a flame memorial, and also a cinema and a conference room and a study centre.
On inauguration day, visitors were welcomed as the prisoners to the concentration camp: to the sound of classic music (music related to the Holocaust). Like the Museum of the Holocaust in Washington DC, in the United States, the corridors of the building seek to tell the full story of pursuit, torture, and the killing of over six million people by Nazi Germany, by means of photographs and screens that display the events known as "Shoah" or "Final Solution".
In 2013, the Jewish community in Porto shared the archive referring to the refugees that were en route in Porto with the Washington DC Holocaust Museum all; now, the archive came back to Porto and includes the official documents, testimony, letters and hundreds of individual files, as well as the Sifrei Torá left behind by the refugees in the synagogue of Porto during World War II.
According to the organisers, the Museum of the Holocaust presents “Jewish life before the Holocaust, Nazism, Nazi expansion in Europe, ghettos, refugees, concentration camps, work camps, extermination camps, the Final Solution, the death marches, liberation, Jewish population in the post war the foundation of the state of Israel, wining or dying of hunger, the Righteous Among the Nations”.
But there is more to the Museum. The outline goal is also to invest in teaching, educators’ professional training, the promotion of exhibitions and research. The first of such initiatives is scheduled for 20th September, targeted at professors; it will be attended by holocaust survivors and representatives of similar museums in the world.
"Thousands of tourists are expected in the summer and circa 10 thousand students from schools throughout the year”, states Josef Lassmann, member of the Jewish Community in Porto, in a news release.
The Museum of the Holocaust opens doors between 2.30 pm and 5.30 pm, every working day. It offers free entrance until June.
The Municipality of Porto joins the Never Forget Project
Porto City Hall joins the National Programme in the scope of the Holocaust Remembrance - Never Forget Project, launched on occasion of the 80th anniversary of the actions by Aristides de Sousa Mendes, the Portuguese consul-general in the French city of Bordeaux who defied the orders of Salazar and issued visas that granted safe passage to war refugees, many of whom were Jewish.
This project remembers and condemns the terror and the destruction of World War II, and not only the extermination of millions of Jews, but also Roma people, disabled people, homosexuals, intellectuals and political opponents. The target goal is, also, to remember the suffering of the victims, namely Portuguese citizens held as war prisoners, and the refugees that sought rescue in Portugal and the brave action of Portuguese saviours.