Holocaust in memories

By Tessa Johnstone tessa.johnstone@age.co.nz


Suitcases belonging to two Jewish children sent by their parents from Nazi Germany to England, and eventually to Masterton, will be unveiled at the Holocaust Centre of New Zealand.

The two children "escaped the horrors of the camps" via Kindertransport, sent by their parents to England and eventually settled with relatives in Masterton in 1946. They never saw their parents again.

Holocaust Centre director Inge Woolf said the suitcases told a story of "survival and personal sacrifice" and would be part of the centre's opening ceremony in Wellington at the end of the month.

Mrs Woolf said the centre had been set up to preserve the memory of the nearly six million Jewish people who died during WWII and to "educate future generations so that they are aware where racist policies can lead".

Although most New Zealanders were sheltered from what occurred, they may have something to share, she said.

"I am sure over the years various Holocaust items have been locked away gathering dust, things that we would like to bring to people's attention in the new national Holocaust centre."

Masterton man John Schnellenberg came to New Zealand as a refugee in 1939 and has contributed to research gathered by the Holocaust Centre.

"The purpose behind this is that today's citizens, more than half of whom were not born when this happened, have got somewhere local to learn about what did go on."

Mr Schnellenberg lost grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins to the concentration camps of Nazi Germany. He and his parents were among the lucky few.

Mr Schnellenberg, who was aged three at the time, said his father was warned to leave Berlin and applied for Canadian visas for the family.

"But we saw a photo of the Botanical Gardens in Wellington in the local paper, and said scratch that, we said New Zealand."

The Holocaust Centre opens to the public on April 23.

- WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE

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