As the Amsterdam-based Anne Frank House’s Visiting Educator, HKHTC’s Director of Education Simon Li visited the Westerbork camp, which was a WWII Nazi detention and transit camp in Hooghalen, on the Liberation Day (Dutch: Bevrijdingsdag). In the Netherlands, Liberation Day is commemorated each year on May 5th to mark the end of the occupation by Nazi Germany during WWII. During the visit at Westerbork, Mr Li also met with local students and educators from the region.
Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Memorial Day, is observed every year. It is a day of commemoration of the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust as a result of actions carried out by Nazi Germany. On April 24, HKHTC was honored to host the annual Yom Hashoah ceremony, which was held at the Jewish Community Centre, in remembrance of the millions of Jewish lives that perished in the Holocaust.
This year’s theme was “Never Again”. Members from all of Hong Kong’s Jewish congregations were represented.In addition, representatives from many consulates joined the evening’s gathering and other multi-faith leaders.In attendance was Sagi Karni, Consul General of Israel to Hong Kong, who gave an address. Opening remarks were read by Glen Steinman, HKHTC Director. The evening programme included a moving and graphic video documentary entitled Sgt. Howard Cwick, Jewish Liberator: Eyewitness to History.
On 23 January 2017, the Hong Kong Holocaust & Tolerance Centre marked the International Holocaust Remembrance Day with a moving, inspiring ceremony at the Community Hall in Sai Ying Pun. Many Jewish and local community members were in attendance, as were more than 30 diplomats and dignitaries, including The Hon. Tung Chee-hwa and The Hon. Donald Tsang, both former Chief Executives of Hong Kong, and Ms Florence Hui, the Under Secretary for Home Affairs of the HKSAR Government. We were honoured that Micha Gelber, an 81-year-old Dutchman who lived through the Holocaust, travelled from the Netherlands to Hong Kong to share his story of survival with us.
Please click here for more photos from our UN Holocaust Memorial Day 2017 event and you can also watch a video of the evening on our Facebook page.
In the beginning of 2017, the HKHTC arranged for Holocaust survivor Mr Micha Gelber to address the following 11 schools across the region: West Island School, Harrow International School, Island School, French International School, Baptist Lui Ming Choi Secondary School, Shatin College, Elsa High School, Creative Secondary School, the University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Baptist University, and Li Po Chun United World College.
Accompanied by HKHTC Director of Education Simon Li, Mr Gelber spoke about his experience of how he was kept alive by the Nazis to be used as a potential bargaining chip and managed to survive the Westerbork and Bergen-Belsen camps. In total, around 3,000 students (aged 12-22) were present for Mr Gelber’s talks.
In our joint event with the Jewish Community Centre on 17 January 2017, Micha Gelber, survivor of Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp, shared his incredible story of survival during the Holocaust.
ABOUT MICHA GELBER
Micha Gelber was born in Ede near Arnhem, the Netherlands, on 28 September 1935. When Micha was eight years old in 1943, his family was arrested and sent to the Westerbork transit camp. From Westerbork the majority of the Dutch Jewish population were deported to Poland to be exterminated, however Micha fortunately found himself on a list of prisoners who were to be exchanged for German nationals interned by the Allies. In January 1944, Micha and his family were transported to Bergen Belsen, where they were subjected to work in forced labour detachments for 15 months in the “star camp” (Sternlager), which held those on prisoner exchange lists. On 10 April 1945, just five days before the British liberated the camp, the 9-year-old Micha was sent on a train eastwards towards Theresienstadt and endured a two-week transport on the sealed train before being liberated by the advancing Russian army just south of Berlin.
Simon Li, a Canadian-trained historian who speaks Cantonese, Mandarin and English, was appointed HKHTC’s Director of Education in 2016. Simon has extensive knowledge about genocide and he previously was Senior Lecturer at a higher education institute in Hong Kong.
In November and December 2016, Simon has already presented Holocaust workshops to hundreds of students at international and local schools in Hong Kong. With Simon’s appointment, HKHTC is increasingly engaged with local Chinese-speaking students, while deepening its work with international schools and students.
The November 2016 visit to Hong Kong by Mr Slawomir Grunberg, director of Karski & the Lords of Humanity, was impactful. HKHTC screened this Holocaust documentary at The University of Hong Kong with Mr Grunberg telling the story of Jan Karski, Polish diplomat and resistance fighter, who risked his life to try to prevent the Holocaust. After the screening, the director also described to the audience how he used archival footage, as well as interviews with subjects and Holocaust scholars, to portray the life and work of a Righteous Gentile and an unsung hero.
From L to R: Journalism professor Kaman Lee, Veteran journalist and HKET columnist Susanna Cheung, director of Karski & the Lords of Humanity Slawomir Grunberg, HKHTC Director of Education Simon Li, and Hong Kong Journalists Association’s Donald Gasper
This fall, HKHTC Director of Education Simon Li visited Creative Secondary School. Two classes of students from 13 – 14 years benefited from the HKHTC’s visit, which gave an informative, age-appropriate insight into the life of Jewish people before World War II and which presented the students with the most important terminology and vocabulary in both English and Cantonese. The talk also addressed China’s, and in particular Shanghai’s, role in providing refuge for many Jewish people.
After the talk, students’ feedback included: “It was amazing to hear how Shanghai was involved in World War II. I didn’t know!” and “The most inspiring thing for me was to see how one man, Sir Nicholas Winton, saved so many children from the Nazis. It is incredible to see what one man can do!” And a CSS teacher wrote, “A big thank you must go to the Hong Kong Holocaust and Tolerance Centre and in particular to Mr. Simon Li for the interesting and informative experience!”
In November 2016, HKHTC partnered with the Hong Kong Jewish Film Festival (HKJFF) to organize a visit to Hong Kong by Dr Erez Pery, both a scholar and the director of the award-winning film The Interrogation, which explores the life of Rudolf Franz Ferdinand Höss, the longest serving commander of Auschwitz concentration camp who was awaiting trial in a Polish prison. Dr Pery spoke to the audience, which included high school and college students, as well as local journalists, in an HKHTC-sponsored post-screening talk.