April is Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month
The state of Texas memorializes victims and survivors of the Holocaust and other genocides by joining with institutions domestically and internationally in recognizing April as Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month.
Genocides begin when intolerant and hateful individuals dehumanize others in a society by putting them into separate and unequal classes and deliberately harming them. According to the Genocide Watch organization, genocides and mass murders led to the killing of more than 170 million people, more than the sum of the deaths in all 20th and 21st century wars combined. Genocides in the last two decades have emphasized the pertinence of this issue, and the threat of further atrocities remains alive in the world today.
In 2011, the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission (THGC) supported the Texas legislature in setting aside the month of April to bring awareness to these barbarous events. April was selected because it has been a defining month for many historic genocides, including issuance of the Nazi decree to prepare the way for the “Final Solution” (1933) to eliminate Jews and Roma, and the entrance of the Khmer Rouge into the Cambodian capital, which initiated massacres that led to the death of two million people, among other genocide events.
Chaja Verveer, THGC commissioner and a Holocaust survivor, says, “Our kids need to be taught to recognize and fight bigotry, to stem hatred and prejudice and learn about living together, embracing diversity.”
The Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission increases awareness of genocide and the Holocaust through educational programs, advice, assistance, and coordination of groups, events, and volunteers. THGC programs include teacher workshops providing guidance in teaching the Holocaust and other genocides, the recording of concentration camp liberator oral histories, and the enhancing of social studies curriculum through requiring the teaching of genocide-related content in school classroom.