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New Zealanders’ ignorance of the Holocaust must change

August 7, 2019

The release today of a survey showing ignorance of the Holocaust amongst New Zealanders is shocking - but sadly not unexpected, says Dr Melissa Derby.

The Auckland Holocaust Memorial Trust-commissioned poll shows that many people do not know a lot about the Holocaust, and even more concerningly, some believed it was a myth or exaggerated.

“Although the results mirror overseas polls that show young people particularly are unaware of the facts and horrors of the Holocaust, it is disturbing to know that this lack of awareness also exists at home,” she says.

“Countering this ignorance in society is of urgent importance as we are now seeing the spread of ethnic hatred in different countries, the extent of which hasn’t been seen since the end of WWII.”

Derby is a lecturer for the country’s only university-level course on the Holocaust, taught at Auckland University of Technology.

The paper, The Holocaust: Its Causes, Character and Legacy, is unique in its delivery in that it is entirely online, enabling people to study from all over the world.

“It gives me a little hope that the course, which launched this year and runs each semester at AUT, has proved popular. I believe we are making a valuable contribution to raising awareness of the horrors of the Holocaust, particularly among younger generations.”

The Holocaust began in 1933 and ended in 1945, Derby says. An estimated six million Jews lost their lives.

“It’s an old cliché but fitting, in that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”


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