Video Conference with the United States
Holocaust Memorial Museum
and UNICs in Latin America
The Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme, in partnership with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum held its first video conference with students in seven countries in Latin America to help promote Holocaust education on 21 April 2010.
Ms. Margit Morawetz Meissner speaking to 7 UN Information centres
United Nations Information Centres in Asuncion, Bogota, Buenos Aires, La Paz, Lima, Mexico City and Panama City brought a total of over 250 local high school students together to hear the personal testimony of Margit Morawetz Meissner, a Holocaust survivor, who spoke from the Museum in Washington, D.C.
Ms. Meissner, a gifted linguist, was sent to Paris from Prague to study when the Nazis annexed Austria in 1938. Just prior to their arrival in France, young Margit managed to escape with her mother, via Spain and Portugal, to the United States, where they settled. After the war, Ms. Meissner returned to Europe during the Nuremberg war crimes trials to be with her husband, who worked for the United States military. She later taught school in the United States and Argentina. She is currently retired and a volunteer at the Museum.
“I wrote my autobiography to help young people see how destructive hatred is and how it nearly ruined my life as a 16-year old student”, said Ms. Meissner. “I encourage the students to imagine living through a similar experience, so that they can understand why it is important to stand up for what is right”, she added.
Student in UNIC Asuncion asking a question to Ms. Meissner
After hearing Ms. Meissner’s personal testimony, the students had the opportunity to ask her questions about her experience and her views, such as: “What feelings and values helped you overcome this tragedy?” (student in Asunción, Paraguay); “How did the discrimination against the Jews affected your childhood?” (student in Buenos Aires, Argentina); “Do you think there are tragedies similar to the Holocaust happening nowadays?” (student in Lima, Peru). Interacting with Mrs. Meissner gave the students the unique chance to understand the human dimension of the Holocaust.
Students gathered in UNIC Lima, Peru
Prior to the video conference, the United Nations Information Centres briefed the students on the history of the Holocaust, using tools such as the United Nations Holocaust Programme’s “Footprints for Hope” kit or the “Electronic Notes for Speakers”, produced in Spanish in partnership with the Museum.
Students gathered in UNIC Panama, watching the video "Footprints for Hope" before the videoconference.
The Museum is a long-time partner of the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme. In 2007, the two institutions developed a week-long training seminar in English and Spanish for the National Information Officers of 10 United Nations Information Centres from Latin America on the history of the Holocaust and genocide prevention.
Testimony of Ms. Margit Morawetz Meissner (available in Spanish)
Remarks by Ms. Christina E. Chavarría, Programme Coordinator, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, National Institute for Holocaust Education (English and Spanish)