June 22, 2009

RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) — A major Brazilian city made the teaching of the Holocaust mandatory in its public schools.

Middle schools in Porto Alegre must include the Holocaust in their history curriculum, according to a bill introduced by Jewish Councilman Valter Nagelstein that was approved earlier this month by the City Council.

“Several youths are not familiar with this history and the lessons that stem from these sad times,” Nagelstein told the Brazilian Jewish press. “Therefore the public school system has the duty to promote a better understanding of this subject.”

Porto Alegre is among Brazil’s 10 largest cities and, with some 12,000 Jews, home to its third largest Jewish community. It has been the site of many anti-Semitic attacks.

The city also has a large population of German descendants.

According to an American Jewish Committee survey conducted in 2001, one-third of Brazilians have no awareness of the Nazi extermination of Jews during World War II, and 11 percent say it is possible that the Holocaust never happened.