Held outdoors in Mary MacKillop Plaza under strict COVID-19 protocols, the launch event included addresses from SA Governor Hieu Van Le, Israeli Ambassador to Australia Tibor Shalev Schlosser, Archbishop of Adelaide Patrick O’Regan, Education Minister John Gardiner, philanthropist Stephen Gandel, Holocaust survivor Andrew Steiner and AHMESC Board chair Nicola Zuckerman.
Ms Zuckerman described the new museum housed in the historic building Fennescey House in Wakefield St as possibly the first Holocaust museums in the world to be partnered by the Catholic Church.
A welcome to country and traditional smoking ceremony by John Lochowiak from Aboriginal Catholic Ministry had a moving twist when John explained that his Polish immigrant father had been in a concentration camp in Poland.
Most importantly, it was held on the 82nd anniversary of Kristallnacht, the night of broken glass, when synagogues were torched and Jewish homes and businesses vandalised. It was a pivotal moment in history which highlights the importance of being an “upstander, not a bystander”, as Governor Van Le told the gathering.
Archbishop O’Regan said the word ‘remember’ was one of the most used words in the scriptures.
“We are a people who remember,” he told the gathering at the launch which was live streamed and included a virtual tour of the museum and haunting music performances by the Beit Shalom Choir.
Mr Steiner said he was “deeply humbled” to see his dream become a reality and stressed that “the responsibility of remembrance belongs to us all”.
“The Holocaust is the most researched historical event yet it still remains inexplicable and beyond comprehension, how could the Holocaust happen?” he asked.
“It happened because it was allowed to happen, significantly appeasement and indifference were major contributing factors. Almost all the world leaders were silent and indifferent. Their silence was seen as tacit approval, being unopposed gave the Nazis unlimited, absolute power to unleash the depravity, hatred and industrialised brutal murder.”
The renowned sculptor, whose works will be on display at the museum, said during the Holocaust “art gave us hope and courage to survive” and was used to “educate when education was forbidden”.
“Art is a very, very important part of the museum,” he added.
“Teaching of the Holocaust is an investment in the future, for a better humanity and citizenship.
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