The South African Holocaust & Genocide Foundation condemns in the strongest possible terms the deeply offensive and historically inaccurate tweet by Black First Land First (BLF) leader Andile Mngxitama. Mngxitama wrote, “For those claiming the legacy of the holocaust is ONLY negative think about the lampshades and Jewish soap.”

This comment displays an inaccurate understanding of the history of the Holocaust but more importantly it reflects an appalling lack of compassion for human suffering and is deeply insulting to the over 6 million Jewish lives lost and the survivors of the Holocaust. The Holocaust ,is the deliberate and systematic state sponsored persecution and murder of the Jews of Europe, however it has universal implications for every one of every background reflecting as it does the range of human behaviour and response. Perhaps most importantly for us all it demonstrates the  devastating impact of indifference, apathy  and silence. Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu said at the opening of the Cape Town Holocaust Centre in 1999, “We learn about  the Holocaust so that we can become more human, more gentle, more caring, more compassionate, valuing every person as being of infinite worth, so precious that we know such atrocities will never happen again and the world will be a more human place.”

This is certainly not the spirit of Mr Mngxitama’s remarks. We would urge him to visit one of the three Holocaust centre’s in South Africa and also to examine the South African national school curriculum which includes the study of the Holocaust  in grade 9 as a case study of human rights violation.