NCWNZ at UN International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Photo from Wikimedia of Liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp by Red Army, January 1945
Photo from Wikipedia of Soviet Union Red Army soldiers talking to the children just liberated from the Auschwitz concentration camp in January 1945. The boy on the left was telling the soldiers how to identify the surviving Nazi guards hiding in prisoner clothes. Nazis had swastikas tattooed under their left armpits.

In 2005 the United Nations designated January 27th the anniversary of the 1945 liberation of the Auschwitz II-Birkenau concentration camp and crematoria as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Since then, the U.N. calls each year for the world to honour and remember the victims and survivors of the Holocaust, and all the victims of the German Nazi regime and its collaborators.

As a representative of NCWNZ, I joined many members of the Government, Diplomatic Corps, NGOs and representatives of the Jewish community -- all who stand against antisemitism, discrimination and apathy in the face of genocide. We met on 28 January 2024 in the Banquet Hall, Parliament Buildings, Wellington. We were encouraged to work to prevent future acts of genocide through education, documentation and commemoration.

A highlight was the award of scholarships to young people who were winners of a competition to write essays, compose poems and paint pictures on the Holocaust commemorative theme of “how to take the voices of survivors and provide concrete ways in which New Zealand can act to combat antisemitism through the voices of the generations, after education and early intervention in schools.” Each student presented their winning work. Particularly moving was a painting depicting a random pile of children’s suitcases with names of victims on them that the Year 11 student had learnt about. The scholarship winners were invited to assist six Holocaust survivors to light candles commemorating the lives of the six million Jewish victims who perished.

Currently there are some fifteen survivors living in New Zealand.

By
Rae Duff, Parliamentary Watch Committee


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