By Nelson Belen, Contributing Writer
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – One of history’s great tragedies was remembered this past Friday, July 14th, as Rio Mayor Marcelo Crivella was in Rio’s Zona Sul (South Zone) to commemorate the laying of the cornerstone for the Holocaust Memorial at Yitzhak Rabin Park in Mirante do Pasmado in Botafogo.
Privately funded, the Holocaust Memorial includes the construction of a 22-meter tall tower divided into ten parts, symbolizing the biblical commandments. At the tower’s base will be inscribed the words, “Thou shalt not kill.”
“The greatest tribute we can pay to the six million dead victims of Nazism is shouting to the world, ‘the Holocaust … never!'” exclaimed Mayor Crivella at the ceremony.
In his speech, Mayor Crivella honored Gerson Bergher, one of Brazil’s most prominent Jewish politicians and activists who died in May 2016. Bergher, former President of the Brazilian Zionist Organization, was the creator and driving force behind the Holocaust Memorial.
Friday’s cornerstone ceremony was attended by Bergher’s wife, Teresa Bergher, who is also Rio’s Secretary of Social Assistance and Human Rights. “This Memorial is a sign of resistance against forgetting,” said Bergher, “because seven decades later, the world continues to kill innocent people and leave many children orphaned.”
The Holocaust Memorial will be built atop Mirante do Pasmado and will feature a movie theater, display gallery, digital media room, along with amenities such as visitor wi-fi and bicycle stations.
In addition, the site will have access ramps, a ceremony area, a circular 300-square-meter gallery, an interactive media space, and an auditorium and meeting rooms.
Bergher anticipates incorporating items from the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem. “When we designed the project, we went to the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem,” she explained. “They supported the initiative and were sending us objects of the victims for the collection, such as clothes and shoes. I will also try to bring a wagon of one of the trains that carried victims to the concentration camps.”
Also present at the event with Mayor Crivella and Secretary Bergher was Yossi Shelly, the Israeli ambassador to Brazil. Ambassador Shelly admitted to being very moved by the ceremony.
“We must always remember the Holocaust,” exclaimed Shelly. “In this way, the world will avoid repeating this horror in the future.”