The Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre will not only focus on the extermination of European Jewry but will also contain a section designated to the Rwandan genocide. Moria Schneider writes in The South African Jewish Report: "The message the juxtaposition sends is stark: that the Holocaust and remembrance of it, did not prevent another genocide from occurring."
However, is this surprising? Of course, very few of those who were victims or killers in Rwanda, would have even been aware of The Holocaust. And even if they had been aware of it, does anyone seriously believe that it would have stopped the genocide in Rwanda?
The only similarity between the genocide that took place in Africa and the one, many years earlier in Europe, is the fact that people were specifically identified and killed ( 800,000 Tutsis and 6,000,000 Jews). From a historical point of view, there is nothing else worth comparing and if one is encouraged to make connections, there is a danger that this will only be done whilst sacrificing the true causes and horrors of both.
I believe that South African students should learn the complex causes of both exterminations, but it would be historically inaccurate to make-believe that much can be gained from trying to understand what they have in common; it would be much more meaningful to try and understand, how and why, they were different.
The real lesson of history is the complex lesson itself, and what one makes of that difficult lesson will inevitably be left to the individual student to mull over and contemplate; "human rights" ideology and fashionable psycho-babble will pay no dividends, even if their confused advocates believe that they can stop such atrocities from reoccurring.
The following, written by Kofi Annan, has been published on Tutu's "Elders" website.
"The time has surely come to ask some hard questions about “traditional” Holocaust education, and perhaps to rethink some of the assumptions on which it has been based. Are programs focusing on the Nazi system and ideology, and particularly on the horrendous experience of their millions of victims, an effective response to, or prophylactic against, the challenges we face today?"
I conclude that Kofi Annan is arguing for a non-historical based Holocaust education. The question that has now to be asked is.... to what extent does the SA Holocaust Foundation concur?