Child Holocaust Survivor Urges ‘Never Again’ As HateAgainst New Zealand Jews Grows
A New Zealand Holocaust survivor who witnessed growing hate towards Jewish people in Europe as a child – and is now seeing it again here – is calling on New Zealanders to remember the world promised “Never Again”.
Bob Narev was only six-years-old in 1942 when he and his family were sent to Theresienstadt concentration camp in Czechoslovakia. All his immediate family died there except his mother, who was forced to work in an armaments factory.
“As a small child in Germany, I understood what it felt like to fear being Jewish. I saw firsthand how hatred can strip people of their humanity,” he says.
Since the Hamas-led October 7 terror attack on Israel, New Zealanders with Jewish heritage – including children – have been the target of widespread antisemitism which has included physical assault, name calling, online abuse and the vandalism of Jewish property.
On Sunday 28 January New Zealand marks United Nations International Holocaust Remembrance Day* and Bob Narev says rising racism towards Jews in New Zealand shows that Holocaust remembrance is more important than ever.
“Reports that Jewish children are hiding their identity here in New Zealand today for fear of persecution are heartbreaking,” he says. “The world promised ‘Never Again’ after the Nazis murdered six million Jewish people, and persecuted and killed millions of others including Romani, Sinti, black, gay and disabled people.”
“The Holocaust didn’t happen in a vacuum, nor did it just begin with the rise of Hitler. It followed hundreds of years of hate speech towards Jews and other minorities, often including physical attacks on Jewish people and their property,” Bob Narev says.
Holocaust Centre of New Zealand chair, and New Zealand expert delegate to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, Deborah Hart says the Hamas-led massacre in Israel which killed more than 1200 people was the deadliest day for Jewish people since the Holocaust.
“It was a tragedy, as is the subsequent death of innocent Palestinians.”
There has been a five-fold increase in the number of complaints the Holocaust Centre has received about antisemitic incidents since October 7.
“Forty percent of these involve dehumanising or demonising allegations about Jewish people including being called a ‘dirty Jew’, being told ‘Jews control the world’ and play-acting that involved gassing a Jewish student,” she says.
“Concerns from the Jewish community for their safety has sadly resulted in there being no New Zealand events this year to commemorate United Nations International Holocaust Remembrance Day being open to the public, the first time in 16 years,” Deborah Hart says.
Almost 80 years since the end of the Holocaust, the only firsthand witness accounts that remain are from the youngest survivors who were children or young teenagers.
“Such eyewitness accounts are undeniable and the strongest antidote to the rise worldwide in Holocaust distortion and denial. To ensure we protect their stories, and to combat racism against all New Zealand’s minority communities, the Holocaust Centre calls on the Government to make New Zealand a full member of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).
“New Zealand became an Observer member in 2022. The rise of antisemitism shows the need for New Zealand to follow Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and most European nations and seek full membership as soon as possible,” Deborah Hart says.
“We know that learning about the Holocaust teaches our young people and future leaders to look at one another with humanity. The Holocaust shows us how hate can start small and that we all have a responsibility to counter it,” she says.