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False news and Freedom of speech

Media release
26 April, 2017

New Zealand’s Holocaust Centre strongly supports the concept of free speech, but works to make young people question what they read online and be aware of the dangers of false news, the Centre said on the occasion of its tenth anniversary.

Holocaust deniers and falsifiers have no barriers to publishing false news through the Internet and other digital media.

“We aim to teach young people to go back to the source material that we can provide through survivor testimonies and links with databases, such as the one collected from the concentration and death camps by the International Red Cross. The 30 million records housed at Bad Arolsen in Germany, and now available online, are indisputable evidence recorded by the Nazi perpetrators themselves,” the Centre said.

 

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Yom HaShoah 2017 Key Note Address

At Temple Sinai, Wellington, Sunday 23 April (27 Nisan) 2017
by Rick Sahar

After getting back from Israel, I crossed paths with an acquaintance who asked, had I been away, to which I answered, yes, I’d been to Israel with a group of NZ High School Teachers at a 17-day Seminar to study at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem the lessons learnt from the Holocaust, to which he looked me straight in the eye, and startled me by saying… “It never happened”.

A couple of days later, I was at a fund-raising concert, and introduced to a couple attending. When someone else there asked me what I’ve been up to, I mentioned recently returning from Israel, you know the rest; but I was surprised by what was said by one of the couple, “now the Israelis are doing to the Palestinians exactly what the Nazis did during WW2 to the Jews”.

Oh, and then there was someone else, who after I mentioned The Yad Vashem Seminar informed me, “it wasn’t just the Jews’ Holocaust; there were a lot of the Litvaks also killed” and when challenged about his revisionist view, told me that I’m the one “out of touch”…

 

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Holocaust Centre of New Zealand Adult Education Programme 2017

The Holocaust Centre of New Zealand presents a six week lecture series exploring the Holocaust from an interdisciplinary perspective. History, the Arts, Geography, Local politics: The diverse foundation of this course will build on your Holocaust knowledge, whether this is your introduction to the subject or you have been deeply engaged for decades.

These lectures are open to anyone interested in deepening their knowledge of World War II and the Holocaust.

  • May 7: An introduction to the Holocaust (Assoc. Prof. Giacomo Lichtner)
  • May 14: The invasion of Poland and the mass murder of Jews (Steven Sedley & Barbara Wood)
  • May 21: The Holocaust between East and West: Hungary, Romania, France and Italy (Assoc. Prof. Giacomo Lichtner and Steven Sedley)
  • May 28: New Zealand and the Holocaust (Ann Beaglehole)
  • June 4: Literature of the Holocaust (Dr. Monica Tempian)
  • June 11: The Power of Music (Inbal Megiddo)

Cost: $60 per person
Time:  4pm – 5.30 pm, Sundays 7 May to 11 June
Location: The Holocaust Centre of New Zealand, 80 Webb Street, Wellington 6011

Limited places available

Tickets available on Eventbrite (click here)

For further details contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Mayor Justin Lester's speech on Holocaust Remembrance Day

The Holocaust Centre has done an important job of educating the general public and future generations

Focussing this year on the Nuremberg Trials, and how the most trusted in Germany committed such heinous crimes against humanity and human rights.

One of our most important tasks is to honour and remember the lives lost and to ensure that we are doing everything we can to make sure nothing like this happens again and that we are advancing the causes of peace, justice and human rights around the world.

WCC has always been a proud partner of The Holocaust Centre

It is an honour to support the Holocaust Centre each year with a grant to commemorate the annual UN International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The Holocaust Centre ensures that future generations are educated on the hate, discrimination and intolerance in a way that they understand.

In a world today that seems darker, with hate and intolerance on the rise, it’s easy to fear that we are forgetting the hard won lessons of history. With anti-immigrant sentiment, anti-Semitism, the spectre of fascism and authoritarianism on the rise in Europe and other parts of the world, we need to remember the lessons of the Holocaust now more than ever.

We need to remember that politics that seeks to turn people against each other, that seeks to dehumanise people, that asks us to turn our backs on our fellow human beings because they are different, that makes us afraid of “the other” – that kind of politics, that kind of rhetoric, has horrible consequences.

And the lesson of Nuremburg, the lasting lesson we must never forget is that it isn’t enough to say we were just following orders, or that we we’re just trying to look the other way.

All of us have a moral responsibility to be brave and to stand up to hate, to intolerance, to injustice. To assert our common humanity, to fight for compassion, and tolerance and justice. We all have a role to play. We all have a responsibility.

Today is an opportunity to remember, to learn and to ensure that the crimes of the holocaust never happen again.

It’s an opportunity to rededicate ourselves to our best ideals, to commit ourselves to doing more to help those in need, to do more to include those who are left behind, to reject hatred and to strive for a better world together.

UNIHRD Holocaust Remembrance Press Release

Holocaust remembrance in Wellington

The serene rural surroundings at the Jewish Cemetery, Makara, were backdrop for the observance of United Nations International Holocaust Remembrance Day in Wellington on 27 January.

In breezy sunshine, Mayor of Wellington Justin Lester, German Ambassador H E Gerhard Thiedemann, and Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy made strong statements on upping the opposition to hate speech, as well as the need for remembrance to also include personal commitment to individual action.

A major theme was the 70 years since the 1947 Nuremberg trials of doctors and lawyers who were complicit in Nazi Germany’s devastating anti-Jewish policies.

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Transcript of Dame Susan Devoy's Holocaust Remembrance Day Speech

I have been coming to annual Holocaust Memorial services since I was appointed Race Relations Commissioner.

A year ago I shared a taxi van up here with Vera Egermayer and several other women who are here today.

Our driver was a rude man. Impatient and grumpy.

And yet at the end of our trip, instead of moaning about him Vera turned to me and said:

This is clearly an unhappy man. I feel sorry for him and his sadness.

I’m sharing this story with you all today because Vera’s empathy for a stranger is the kind of thing the world needs more of today.

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Kristallnacht Holocaust Commemoration Concert - Videos

Here is the link to videos of the Kristallnacht Holocaust Commemoration Concert.

Reviews of the Kristallnacht Concert

On November 9th we held the Kristallnacht Holocaust Commemoration Concert at the St James Theatre. Here are two reviews of the event:

From Middle C (Classical Music Reviews)

From Stuff (Wellington Dominion Post)

Here is a link to the programme for the night.

A Summary of Prof William Spurlin's Talk

Professor William Spurlin, from Brunel University, London, gave a presentation at Myers Hall, WJCC on the treatment of lesbians and gay men during the Holocaust, a little-publicised aspect of the genocide. He was an engaging speaker, relating the persecution of GLBT persons to the rigid gender roles proscribed by Nazi ideology, and locating sexuality at its intersections with race, gender, and eugenics within the National Socialist belief system.

His talk covered life for lesbians and gay men before the Holocaust in the Weimar period and discussed the law against homosexuality. Lesbians were impacted somewhat less, in that they could still bear children, and so be seen as contributing to the Nazi ideal of womanhood, but this did not mean that they were not as systematically persecuted by the Nazis.

The hyper-masculinity of the Nazi male ideal made anything outside of that a threat, and therefore even homosexual behaviour within the SS was deemed disgusting – some SS officers who were gay were murdered. For gay prisoners in the camps, their discrimination continued, and they were discriminated against by other prisoners as well as by those in authority.

Professor Spurlin has written extensively on the politics of gender and sexual dissidence and is widely known for his work on queer theory.

- Erica Rothschild

Professor Shostak's Lecture Summary

On the 25th of February, Professor Arthur Shostak, Emeritus Professor of Sociology at Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, gave a very thought-provoking speech about 'Appreciating the Help Story in the Holocaust'. 

The talk drew on acts of stealth altruism as recounted in almost all of 195 survivor memoirs studied by Professor Shostak, many interviews with survivors, and study visits to 43 Holocaust Museums. These acts included smuggling soup to others, the substitution for others too ill to survive another day of slave labour, the smuggling of mail and propping up of ill prisoners at roll call.

What is a Help Story? 'Help Story' refers to the very varied efforts made by some European Jewish victims during the Holocaust. 'Stealth Altruism' refers to unpaid, secret, high-risk caring efforts Jewish victims made, with no hope of reward, knowing that this behaviour was prohibited by the Gestapo and SS, and would be harshly punished if detected. To one survivor, this was proof that “even in the perverse environment of Auschwitz absolute goodness was a possibility”.

Shostak made the case that recognition of this high-risk care (the Help Story) is inseparable from the perpetrator atrocities and needs to be included in the memorialisation of the Holocaust.

As the late Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis maintained, our effort to memorialize the Shoah is best understood as “a sacred act that elicits a double mandate — to expose the depth of evil and to raise goodness from the dust of amnesia.”

 

United Nations Holocaust Remembrance Day 2017

International Holocaust Remembrance Day is commemorated worldwide on 27 January in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. 

On 27 January 1945, the advancing Red Army entered the Auschwitz-Birkenau  extermination camp complex, liberating more than 7,000 remaining prisoners, who were for the most part ill or dying. The United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 60/7 on 1 November 2005 to designate 27 January as International Holocaust Remembrance Day in memory of the victims of the Holocaust.

Our focus this year is the 70th Anniversary of the Nuremberg Trials of doctors and lawyers. These were some of the smartest, most skilled and trusted people in German society who abused human rights in their professional capacity. 

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