The Hong Kong Holocaust and Tolerance Centre, together with the Asia Society Hong Kong Center, was pleased to host the annual United Nations Holocaust Memorial Day Commemoration 2023.
Poland-born Holocaust survivor Mr Pinchas Gutter was the keynote speaker. In 1942, as ten-year-old Pinchas was deported from the Warsaw Ghetto to the killing site of Maidanek and then to a series of concentration camps, he shut himself off to the terrors surrounding him and tried his best not to be noticed, to become almost invisible. But after liberation, his photographic memory would not let his past fade away, and Pinchas struggled to deal with nightmares and flashbacks.
Pinchas is the first Holocaust survivor to be immortalised in an interactive projection in the USC Shoah Foundation’s Dimensions in Testimony – this is in partnership in Asia with the Hong Kong Holocaust & Tolerance Centre.
You can watch the UNHMD 2023 commemorative event here.
A Long Road to Justice
HKHTC Webinar – Commemorating the 85th Anniversary of the Atrocities at Nanjing
December 13, 2022 8:00pm HKT
You can watch the webinar video here.
To commemorate the 85th anniversary of the Rape of Nanjing, HKHTC hosted a talk by Penguin Author Sylvia Yu Friedman on Imperial Japanese military sex slavery (“comfort women”) during World War II and modern-day slavery across Asia.
A constant stream of impoverished women and girls have been, and are being, enslaved and abused in the Asia Pacific region. Slavery is not a historical issue – it’s happening today. History is repeating itself.
Through Sylvia’s work in journalism, she’s had rare access to survivors over the last two decades. Sylvia will share her personal journey of documenting the stories of these survivors across Asia for the next generation and to spur more people on to get involved in the fight against injustice.
About Sylvia Yu Friedman
Sylvia Yu Friedman is an award-winning filmmaker, Penguin Random House SEA author and a TV host. She is the author of A Long Road to Justice: Stories from the Frontlines in Asia; Silenced No More: Voices of Comfort Women, the only journalistic account of historical Japanese military sex slavery during WWII, and Heart and Soul: The Life Story of Pastor Augustus Chao. Sylvia was awarded the Global Top 50 Women In Sustainability Awards 2022 by The SustainabilityX® Magazine. She serves as a Member of Jury for the Asian Academy Creative Awards in the Documentary category. Currently, Sylvia is writing books and also developing various TV and film projects.
HKHTC sends its heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of the victims of the tragic shootings at Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colorado. We condemn this horrific act of hatred and intolerance, motivated by homophobia. This senseless attack is a poignant reminder of the necessity of tolerance education. It remains critical that we further strengthen efforts to teach the importance of non-discrimination, while promoting peaceful co-existence among peoples of different backgrounds and sexual orientations.
Since 2022, HKHTC’s multi-year cooperation with the USC Shoah Foundation enables us to have the cutting-edge Dimensions in Testimony and iWitness systems in place to roll out to schools and universities in our region.
These platforms give students eye-opening interactive access to survivor testimonies from the Shoah, the Nanjing massacre and other atrocities. This year, we partnered with the University of Hong Kong (HKU), the Hong Kong International School (HKIS), Carmel School and Malvern College to pilot these new resources for different age groups. We will bring them to many other schools including several ESF schools, German Swiss International School (GSIS) and other local colleges and universities.
In the absence of in-person visits by survivors – which will remain difficult to organise in the near future – this form of experiencing eyewitness accounts is a powerful pedagogical tool. We are also adding to these events with bespoke seminars, talks by family members of Holocaust survivors living in Hong Kong (our ‘Next Generation’ project), virtual reality exhibitions and museum tours. These interactions typically involve several hundreds of students and span multiple days.
On 9 November 2022, together with March of the Living, the Hong Kong Holocaust and Tolerance Centre commemorated the 84th anniversary of Kristallnacht with a message of unity and hope through a unique international campaign.
Titled “Let There Be Light,” March of the Living invited individuals, institutions, and houses of worship around the world to keep their lights on during the night of November 9 as a symbol of solidarity and mutual commitment in the shared battle against antisemitism, racism, hatred, and intolerance. As part of this virtual initiative, people from all over the world were able to add their voices to the campaign. Individuals of all religions and backgrounds also wrote personal messages of hope in their own words at the campaign website here.
Meanwhile, please visit a special page on Yad Vashem’s website (click here) which features interviews, testimony, and photos on the terrible events of Kristallnacht in 1938. This year, through HKHTC’s ongoing global partnership with Yad Vashem, we will leverage our unique Holocaust education approach and reach thousands more across Asia — including educators and students in Japan, Indonesia and mainland China. As always, HKHTC continues to be very active teaching about the Holocaust in partnership with local Hong Kong schools, universities, and community organisations. Thank you again for your interest and support. We sincerely hope you can join us at our future events. Please stay tuned for more details.
The Hong Kong Holocaust & Tolerance Centre was pleased to support a number of Holocaust-themed films as part of the 23rd Hong Kong Jewish Film Festival.
These public screenings took place during 12-20 November 2022 at the Golden Scene Cinema at 2 Catchick St, Kennedy Town. Please see the list below for film descriptions.
Supported Films 2022
1. The Rhapsody (Sunday, 13 November, 4:25pm)
“TO SEE SUCH A SIGNIFICANT TIME COME TO LIFE THROUGH A MEDIUM SO CLOSE TO SPELLMAN’S HEART AND THAT OF HIS FAMILY IS INCREDIBLY MOVING”
– POV MAGAZINE
The Rhapsody tells the astonishing story of Polish-Canadian composer Leo Spellman, whose long-lost musical masterpiece and secret wartime diary provide the framework for a remarkable journey towards artistic liberation at the age of ninety-nine.
Spellman spent eighteen harrowing months in hiding to survive the Holocaust. His diaries, found after he passed away, are among the most revealing documents of their kind from WWII.
The Rhapsody unfolds as Spellman prepares to record his musical masterpiece, a piece composed in a German DP camp and lost for over fifty years. Weaving together interviews with Spellman and his family, excerpts of his lost diary brought to life through animation and narrated by Stephen Fry, and live-orchestral performances of Spellman’s music; this moving documentary tells a remarkable tale of survival.
2. Three Minutes – A Lengthening (Monday, 14 November, 7:00pm)
“USING FOOTAGE FROM A THREE-MINUTE AMATEUR MOVIE SHOT IN 1938, THIS ROUSING DOCUMENTARY ABOUT A JEWISH TOWN IN POLAND IS A HAUNTING MEDITATION ON THE MEMORY OF THE HOLOCAUST”
– THE NEW YORK TIMES
The only nonfiction film to be selected for the 2022 Sundance Film Festival’s Spotlight section — a prestige category highlighting movies that have already premiered to acclaim elsewhere — Bianca Stigter’s feature-length directorial debut Three Minutes: A Lengthening is an inspired piece of cinematic archaeology. Stigter does exactly what the title of the piece invitingly and enigmatically implies: she examines a short section of 16mm home movie footage from every possible angle, stopping and starting and running and re-running the images without ever cutting to talking heads.
Three Minutes: A Lengthening shows footage of the Jewish inhabitants of Nasielsk, a small town north of Warsaw, Poland. The film in question was taken by David Kurtz in 1938 while on vacation, and later discovered by his grandson, Glenn, in 2009. Given that the celluloid was brittle, faded and on the very edge of salvageable, the movie was rescued and restored through the efforts of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Within seven years of Kurtz’s 1938 visit to Nasielsk, only about 100 of the town’s approximately 3,000 Jews would be alive.
3. Death of Zygielbojm (Wednesday, 16 November, 7:00pm)
“I CANNOT BE SILENT AND LIVE WHEN THE REMNANTS OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE IN POLAND ARE DYING”
– THE WORDS OF THE FAREWELL LETTER OF SZMUL ZYGIELBOJM
London 1943. A young British reporter was looking for topics that would push his career forward. One day he came across the case of the death of a mysterious stranger from Poland. The deceased’s name was Szmul Zygielbojm. In occupied Poland, he left his wife and three children to set off on a secret mission, first to New York and then to London. He was to inform the leaders of the Western world about the enormity of the crimes committed by the Germans against millions of European Jews. Zygielbojm’s efforts met with a wall of indifference and incomprehension. In the end, he realized that he was unable to make anyone go to help his brothers, who, in an act of ultimate desperation, took up arms in the Warsaw ghetto. Devastated by his helplessness, he decided to sacrifice his life in the hope that such a victim would not go unnoticed. Now his story is in the hands of a young journalist who will try to make the shocking truth finally see the light of day…
Death of Zygielbojm is a moving true story of one man’s heroic struggle for the world to finally perceive the tragedy of millions.
4. 消失的安妮日記 Where is Anne Frank (Sunday, 20 November, 12:00pm) 中、英文字幕 Chinese and English Subtitles
“THE DIRECTOR BEHIND ‘WALTZ WITH BASHIR,’ THE SUPERB ANIMATED ACCOUNT OF THE HALLUCINATORY HORRORS OF WAR, ARI FOLMAN WAS NEVER GOING TO TAKE THE PREDICTABLE ROUTE WITH HIS RIFF ON THE MUCH LOVED, MUCH TRANSLATED DIARY OF ANNE FRANK”
– THE GUARDIAN
Kitty, the imaginary girl to whom Anne Frank wrote her famous diary, comes to life in the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. Her memories reawakened by reading the diary, believing that if she’s alive, Anne must be alive as well, she sets out on a quest to find Anne. We follow Kitty as she travels across Europe and back to Anne Frank’s time, armed with the precious book, in search of her beloved friend…
In Where is Anne Frank, Kitty tells Anne Frank’s story.
On 21 July 2022, the Hong Kong Holocaust and Tolerance Centre presented a public lecture titled “Love in the Darkest Hours of the Holocaust” at the Hong Kong International Book Fair.
We are delighted that the special talk attracted a very diverse crowd, emphasizing the value and importance of HKHTC’s core message of tolerance and non-discrimination. The lecture was presented by HKHTC’s Executive Director Simon K. Li in Cantonese, enabling us to connect with many local community members, including those who learned about the Holocaust for the first time as a result of this event. HKHTC is grateful to the Consulate of Israel in Hong Kong & Macau for arranging the talk.
Love in the Darkest Hours of the Holocaust 猶太大屠殺歷史: 被遺忘的愛情故事
Speaker: Simon K. Li (李家豪) Executive Director, Hong Kong Holocaust and Tolerance Centre Visiting Instructor, Yad Vashem
Growing up with a Nazi father, Dr Bernd Wollschläger is now a Jew by choice. Born a German Catholic, he was the son of a tank commander who received the Iron Cross, Germany’s highest military honor, which was pinned on him by Adolf Hitler. When the son discovered his father was a decorated Nazi war hero who has kept the past hidden from his children, he rebelled, converted to Judaism, and even served in the Israel Defense Forces. Dismayed by the legacy of the Holocaust, the son found that the rift between family and faith never healed.
In our HKHTC webinar on 8 June 2022, Dr Bernd Wollschläger shared with us the story of a German life out of the shadow of a perpetrator.
This special webinar has been made possible by the generous support of the Raymond and Nicette Bera Foundation.
“When my children started asking questions about my parents, I decided to break the wall of silence and tell them the truth about me. I needed to express what compelled me to dramatically change my life. I finally had to explore the relationship with my father and how it was overshadowed by the Holocaust. Our unresolved conflict and his denial motivated me to search for answers, and I found them within me and my acquired faith: Against all odds, change is possible… This is my story.”
HKHTC mourns the victims of the horrific shootings in Buffalo, New York. Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family and friends of the victims, as well as the communities targeted by the instigator of this brutal hate crime. This tragic attack — motivated by ethnic supremacist ideology — illustrates the continued necessity of tolerance education. It is imperative that we continue to strengthen efforts to teach the importance of non-discrimination and promote peaceful co-existence among peoples of different backgrounds.
In 1947, Benjamin Ferencz wrote legal history by prosecuting high-level Nazi ‘Einsatzgruppen’ officers who had been responsible for the murder of over one million Jews. The trial at Nuremberg was part of a first attempt to hold perpetrators of the most heinous atrocities to account in an international court. Over the course of Ferencz’s life (he is still alive at age 102), this international legal order has evolved significantly.
In this HKHTC-HKU webinar which took place on 25 April 2022, Prof Gregory Gordon (CUHK, Law) tracked Ferencz’s landmark contributions to international justice through his role at Nuremberg and his longstanding advocacy for the creation of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
In light of recent developments in Ukraine, questions about the need for international justice are more pressing than ever.