Anna Leask

Anna Leask is senior police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Visitors hurl Nazi abuse at German Kiwi event worker

Auckland resident says the nature and intensity of tirade were highly upsetting.

Silke Hartung says the bullying left her shaken and deeply unsettled. Photo / Greg Bowker
Silke Hartung says the bullying left her shaken and deeply unsettled. Photo / Greg Bowker

A German-born Auckland woman was called a Nazi and asked if she liked to stamp people "just like at Auschwitz" after she denied four men entry to a concert she was working at.

Silke Hartung, 33, who has lived in New Zealand for more than 10 years, decided to speak up about the verbal attack in Parnell to make people aware of just how offensive racist comments are to foreign-born Kiwis.

She was working on the door at the concert taking tickets on Saturday night when the incident happened.

"People had been asked to bring their booking numbers. These four guys came up and I asked them for their numbers but they didn't have them.

"I tried to explain that it was procedure and one said, 'Oh my God, your accent - you're a Nazi.' I get called a Nazi quite a lot; people joke about it and I shake it off, usually, because they are not being serious.

"But the difference is, these people meant it. It was pretty bad."

The men, who said they were from Tauranga, carried on abusing Ms Hartung, asking if they needed a stamp on their arms to get in.

One said to her: "Germans love stamping people, just like at Auschwitz" - a reference to the Nazi death camp in Poland.

"They kept hurling Nazi abuse at me and bullying me. It was really hard to not lose it and cry. I'm quite aware that my accent can be quite authoritative so I always try to be polite, but those guys made it difficult."

Ms Hartung said the incident rattled her and made her feel anxious for the rest of the night.

"There is a problem in New Zealand," she said. "We all have different backgrounds, but we are all the same - no matter where you're from, no matter what your culture. We all live here. We just have to be a bit nicer to people.

"I do get a lot of sh** for my accent, but these guys were so serious, it really shook me. They were harsh, just because I sounded foreign.

"When people ask where I'm from and I say Germany originally, they usually make a racist joke about Nazis. I shake it off ... I don't want to be fussy. Now I tell people I am from Auckland - I'm a local, I'm from here now, my entire life is here. I don't have much relation to Germany any more apart from my accent.

"I'm quite angry about this; there is no need to be disrespectful."

A spokesman for Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres said: "Harassing someone because of their race or national origin is not on.

"It's ignorant, inappropriate and should not be tolerated. Employees have the right to work in a safe environment, free from harassment and abuse."

* What do you think? Is New Zealand racist? Email newsdesk@nzherald.co.nz

- NZ Herald

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