Teaching humanity: Placing the Cape Town Holocaust Centre in a post-apartheid state
This dissertation examines the development of Holocaust education in South Africa, specifically in the period of political transition to democracy and the two decades after apartheid. The history of placing the Holocaust in post-apartheid South Africa shows the dynamics and tensions of identity construction by the state, communities and individuals as the country emerged from a history of violent conflict. Holocaust education was claimed by the newly democratic state as a vehicle of reconciliation. Using archival material, interviews and secondary sources, I examine how a minority community’s project of building a permanent Holocaust centre, came to be considered as part of a national project of reconciliation. I consider the impact of this framing of Holocaust education and the tensions that arose as the Cape Town Holocaust Centre’s founders attempted to define and contain, the place of apartheid in Holocaust memory. Holocaust education shaped the development of post-apartheid identities. It contributed to a collective memory of apartheid by suggesting a particular collective memory of the Holocaust. The Cape Town Holocaust Centre provided the South African Jewish community with a legitimate identity in post-apartheid South Africa and a way to bypass an examination of the implications of having benefited from apartheid. I examine the tensions and contradictions within this construction of the collective memory of the Holocaust and apartheid, and consider the implications for the process of justice, memory and history in South Africa as it emerged from apartheid.