Klerksdorp Midweek, Klerksdorp - As the world commemorated the tragedy of the Holocaust on 27 January, the Klerksdorp museum joins the commemoration by hosting a banner exhibition from 1 February to 31 March that tells the story of the Holocaust in pictures.
The genocide perpetrated by the Nazis is perhaps the best known state organised effort to exterminate an entire people group. During the Holocaust the Nazis and their allies killed 6 million Jewish people, 200 000 Romani (Gypsy) people, 250 000 mentally and physically disabled people, and 9 000 homosexual men, most of them in infamous death camps like Auschwitz-Birkenau, Majdanek and Sobibor.
According to museum historian, Bert Gaffen, this is by no means the only example of the 20th or indeed 21st Century, as the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 and the atrocities perpetrated by the Sudanese government in cooperation with the Janjaweed militias starting in February 2003, are good examples of. “It is important for each of us to know about genocide, so that together we can prevent such a thing happening again,” Gaffen told Klerksdorp Record.
The horror of the holocaust
On 27 January 1945, Soviet Red Army forces overran the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp Complex in south-western Poland and found 7,500 prisoners alive and over 600 corpses. They also found 370,000 men’s suits, 837,000 women’s garments, and 7.7 tonnes of human hair in warehouses throughout the camp complex. Soon it became clear that the clothing once belonged to former inmates of the camp that had been executed in macabre gas chambers and thereafter been cremated in huge ovens. The hair had been collected from these prisoners just before their execution, for the purposes of - among other things - making felt to line the cold-weather boots of German soldiers. Soon it became clear that an estimated 1.3 million people had been sent to the camp between September 1941 and November 1944, of whom at least 1.1 million died. Around 90 percent of those killed were Jewish.