North Africa’s first-ever Holocaust memorial is in the works

PixelHelper is building the education center in Morocco and there will be live actors, installations and exhibits to teach adults and school children about the horrors of the Shoah.

The Rainbow installation commemorating members of the LGBTQ+ community murdered during the Holocaust (photo credit: OLIVER BIENKOWSKI)
The Rainbow installation commemorating members of the LGBTQ+ community murdered during the Holocaust
(photo credit: OLIVER BIENKOWSKI)
In a first for North Africa, German nonprofit organization Pixelhelper is building a Holocaust memorial and education center in Morocco.
The monument is situated some 26 km. southeast of Marrakech on the road to the Ouarzazate Film Studios in the little town of Ait Faska, a n area that attracts thousands of tourists.
PixelHelper founder Oliver Bienkowski told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that the only other Holocaust memorial on the African continent is in South Africa.
“Between our place and this, there is no [other] remembrance to the Holocaust,” Bienkowski said.
Bienkowski spoke of the inspiration for the creation of the memorial. He said as the founder of the PixelHelper Foundation, which promotes human rights and fights against racism worldwide, “I did research in the Yad Vashem database and found my last name, ‘Bienkowski.’”
“I read that people who have the same last name as me were killed by the Germans in concentration camps, and that Freemasons were also killed in concentration camps,” he said. Although it was not clear whether the Bienkowskis found in the Yad Vashem database were directly related to him, for Bienkowski, he said it made no difference.
It was soon after making this discovery, he started work on building the memorial.
“As a German with Polish roots and a masonic background, I directly started working and started building,” he explained. “We will turn on our infinity flame on the tower…[to signify that] evil doesn’t come in fast steps, [it starts as] little steps that nobody...recognizes and protests.”
“The whole world should see what humans can do to other humans if they are in a dictatorship like Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany,” he added.
Bienkowski said that the memorial will be made of more than 10,000 stone blocks that visitors will be able to walk through.
“We will put every country in the world on a stone block with the distance to Marrakech,” he said, adding that the city hopes “our memorial will be the biggest in the world.”
“We have a black tower with an infinity flame, and in the black house we will show people the history of the Jews in North Africa during the Holocaust,” he continued. “Then, in the middle of the monument, we have [blocks with the colors of] a rainbow for the LGBTQ+ Jews and people who died in concentration camps.”
The memorial will include actors and themed rooms to “show our visitors all aspects of life in the concentration camp,” Bienkowski said. “We plan to build some railway tracks,” and there are also plans to bring an old train to the memorial.
“We want to build [a replica of] the ovens in Bergen-Belsen,” and they also plan for actors to reenact some of the horrific scenes that took place in the crematoria.
“We will combine this with audio installations,” Bienkowski said, and that inside the memorial building there will be one room designed to look like a barracks to show how people suffered after a work day.
There will also be a room depicting the laboratory at the notorious Block 10 in Auschwitz documenting the experiments Nazi doctors performed on prisoners.
“Our goal is to take people from the entrance, and go through our memorial until the end in an emotional, eye-opening and artistic happening that will reach people’s heart and not only their mind, [like what happens] if they see movies or hear sound files,” Bienkowski emphasized.
He said they are also planing to buy more properties around the Holocaust memorial where they hope to install all the different places of a concentration camp for visitors to see.
“We think that the younger generation can understand the Holocaust better if they see it live,” he said. “From the morning count and through a crematorium, people can experience first-hand barracks and the important parts of a concentration camp. If people never see what happened in the Holocaust, they can’t imagine it,” he said. “It’s important... to show school kids and all people what happened,” and make it clear that “it can never happen again.
“It’s so important to show videos, audio and live theatrical forms for people [to understand] in their minds the brutality of the Holocaust,” Bienkowski added. “Culture and historical exchange is the best fertilizer for tolerance between humans. We hope that this Holocaust memorial will push the friendship between Muslim countries and Jews.”
Bienkowski said that the memorial’s Rainbow installation will be finished by Hanukkah.
“We invite all Jews and Muslims in the whole world to commemorate this with us,” he said, adding that it is with the world’s support that the memorial can manifest his vision for it to be one of the biggest in the world.