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New Zealanders Who Stood Up To The Nazis Recognised For UN Holocaust Remembrance Day 2022

New Zealanders who stood up to the Nazis during World War 2 are being recognised at events around the country to mark this year’s United Nations International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

This includes New Zealand soldiers who fought German forces and bore witness to the atrocities inflicted on Jewish people, and New Zealand immigrants whose brave actions saved Jewish lives.

The theme for this year’s commemorations is Resistance and a keynote speaker at the Auckland War Memorial Museum event is Chief of the Army, Major General John Boswell.

The Chief of the Army, Major General John Boswell will speak at the Auckland War Memorial Museum about the part the New Zealand Army, Navy and Airforce played in Nazi Germany’s defeat.

“The New Zealand Army, indeed also our Navy and Airforce counterparts, through our contributions to World War 2 played our part in the resistance that occurred all those years ago,” Major General Boswell says.

“In May 1945, the 2NZEF captured Trieste in northern Italy and found the Nazi concentration and death camp called the Risiera di San Sabba. There they saw first-hand the atrocities Jewish people had suffered,” Major General Boswell says.

The late Private Tahu Potiki Hopkinson of Ngai Tahu was a member of the 28th Māori Battalion 18 Platoon and in 1994 gave a heartbreaking account of what he found at Trieste and how it haunted him. His daughter Gaye Stanley is also speaking at this year’s commemorations in Auckland.

Major General Boswell says New Zealand forces stood up to the Nazis as it was the right thing to do. “Our armed forces fought in World War 2 as part of the Allied forces, to achieve world and New Zealand security against the threat of conquest, and submission to the ideologies of Nazism and Fascism.

“It was basic to the traditional values of the armed forces to resist those evils, which were unprecedented at that time but, regrettably, have occurred too often since,” Major General Boswell says.

Holocaust Centre of New Zealand chair Deb Hart says Holocaust survivors and New Zealand’s Jewish community thank the Defence Force for being “upstanders not bystanders”.

“Without such Resistance, the situation for Jewish people in Europe would have been even more tragic,” Deb Hart says.

Auckland Holocaust survivor Vera Krukziener says she owes her life to her mother and father, as well as nuns in their hometown of Budapest, Hungary, and renowned Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg who provided safe houses for Jewish families.

“They refused to accept the Nazis’ plan to exterminate the Jews. Their resistance continues to amaze me to this day and I will be forever grateful for their actions,” Vera Krukziener says.

Sir Peter Gluckman will speak about Antisemitism at this year’s Auckland event. He says this month’s hostage seige at the synagogue in Colleyville, Texas shows that 77 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, there remains a level of racial hatred towards Jewish people based on old stereotypes.

“These stereotypes are far removed from reality and must be renounced wherever they are found.

“We must teach our children, and their children’s children, that allowing hate to grow normalises racism. When societies accept that some people are worth less than others, or when and where racism and hate are used as political and ideological tools, then we should not be surprised if atrocities such as the Holocaust and other genocides can evolve,” Sir Peter says.

Notes:

  • The Holocaust Centre of New Zealand is the country’s national Holocaust education and remembrance centre. It inspires and empowers action against antisemitism, discrimination, and apathy by remembering, educating, and bearing witness to the Holocaust.
  • January 27 was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2005 as the International Holocaust Remembrance Day to remember the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust and others who were also murdered by the Nazis.
  • The day was chosen because it was the day in 1945 the Red Army liberated the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp.
  • Commemorative events are held on January 27 around the world and in New Zealand this year in Auckland, Wellington, Hamilton, Nelson and Christchurch.

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