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Brazil remembers Jewish and Afro-descendant Shoah victims

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (JTA) — Remembering the Holocaust is one way to prevent it from recurring, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said at a memorial ceremony in Salvador.

Rousseff joined several Jewish and non-Jewish officials at a ceremony Jan. 29 in Brazil’s third largest city remembering Jewish and Afro-descendants — those of black African ancestry.

"We are here to express ourselves about a stain in the history of humankind," she said. "Remembering is a way to build the mechanisms to prevent it from happening again. The Holocaust, which some deny, will always stand as a paradigm against intolerance. Democratic societies have the power to fight crimes like the Holocaust so that they will not happen ever again."

She added that Brazil supports the creation of a "democratic and non-segregating" Palestinian state.

Claudio Lottenberg, president of the Brazilian Israelite Confederation, the country’s Jewish umbrella organization, recalled the 20,000 Afro descendants who lost their lives during the Holocaust. They had lived in Germany when the Nazis came to power in 1933. Salvador, which has a population of more than 3.5 million, has the largest population of Afro-descendants outside of Africa.

Earlier this month, Rousseff approved an agreement to include Jewish themes such as the Holocaust, anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia and intolerance in the curricula in some schools, universities and other educational institutions in Brazil.

In January 2011, a few days after she had assumed the presidency, Rousseff attended a Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony.

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