At seven years old one of Bob Narev's earliest memories was seeing blood spurting from his father's nose when a Nazi officer smacked him across the face with a gun.

It was Frankfurt, 1942.

Bob and his father, Erich, a schoolteacher and mother, Gertrud, an opera singer, were waiting on the platform in line with other local Jews to be taken by train to a concentration camp.

Their possessions were hastily packed into suitcases, with no space for Bob's toys or even a teddy bear.

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"I remember a Nazi in uniform asking my father if he had money, and he said no. But they found a small coin in his pocket he had forgotten about and struck him violently across the face."

It was the beginning of years of horror for the young child and his parents.

"And for hundreds of thousands like us."

Freda and Bob Narev survived the Holocaust and now live in Auckland. Bob wears the badge Jews had to wear during the war. Photo/ Jaden McLeod
Freda and Bob Narev survived the Holocaust and now live in Auckland. Bob wears the badge Jews had to wear during the war. Photo/ Jaden McLeod

Now 82, sitting in his waterfront St Heliers home in New Zealand with his wife Freda, also a child holocaust survivor, Bob fingers the yellow star-shaped cloth badge with "Jude" written on that all Jews had to wear.

"It doesn't bring me pride to wear it, but I do even today because we have not learned lessons from history about discrimination and the worse side of human nature."

Bob spent three years in the Theresienstadt concentration camp in Czechoslovakia.

It was a transit camp, and of the 140,000 who passed through there, only 17,000 survived.

He recalls other cruelties like one cold day the officers made everyone stand outside in the yard all day, not letting them rest even if they were ill or close to death.

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"Some who were old or already sick just didn't last the day."

Bob Narev's mother Gertrud rarely spoke to her son of the horrors she witnessed in the concentration camp where her husband died. Photo/ supplied
Bob Narev's mother Gertrud rarely spoke to her son of the horrors she witnessed in the concentration camp where her husband died. Photo/ supplied

Separated from his mother who had to work in a factory making arms for the Germans, he didn't make friends in the children's area because there were too many goodbyes.

"There were so many comings and going. When they went, you wouldn't see them again."

Bob's father died in Theresienstadt.

In February 1945 Bob and his mother Gertrud were offered a place a train which they were told was going to Switzerland.

"My mother was hesitant because she knew trains led to death, but I convinced her. As it turns out we could have died if we stayed as typhoid swept through the camp."

The rest of their immediate family perished in the Holocaust. Bob and his mother Gertrud immigrated to New Zealand in 1947.

Gertrud never spoke much about what she had witnessed during those years.

"It's my regret that we didn't speak more about it. She suffered nightmares. Post-traumatic stress. Things we understand today but perhaps not then."

Freda's story is similarly harrowing.

Her father was shot in 1941 and her mother and her two sisters fled to the ghetto leaving Freda in the care of a Catholic family on a farm in Poland. She was just two years old.

"It must have been a terrible choice for my mother, but she did it so I could survive."

Freda's mother Kreina and her sister Esther went missing and were never found. Photo/supplied
Freda's mother Kreina and her sister Esther went missing and were never found. Photo/supplied

Her mother and one sister Esther were never seen again.

After the war, Freda's older sister 18-year-old Liza came to collect Freda.

"I didn't know who she was at first but she became everything to me. She became my mother."

Freda and Liza tried every avenue to find their mother and other sister who they thought might have been in one of the concentration camps.

"We had to accept that they had gone. I don't know whether to a camp or what happened. I still think about it today but in some ways, it is easier not to know what happened."

In the 80s, the Narevs returned to Europe with their then teenage children and visited Freda's hometown, as well as the camp where Bob and his parents had stayed.

"It was a bleak place. We were glad we went but glad to leave."

Freda recalls a chilling moment when they visited a wood where there was a memorial dedicated to thousands of Jews who had been gassed.

"It was silent, then suddenly in the distance, we heard the whistle of a train. The sound they would have heard being brought to their death. That was spine-chilling."

The Narevs, among the last living survivors of the Holocaust, had a happier life after the war.

They met in New Zealand and have been together 59 years. Bob became a lawyer and they have three children and eight grandchildren.

Freda' sister Liza, now 91, is in a New Zealand rest home but unable to talk.

For as long as they can still talk, Bob and Freda are passionate about children learning lessons from the Holocaust and are involved in Holocaust education in schools around New Zealand.

They are speaking at a dinner in Tauranga this week to celebrate 25 years of Bethlehem Tertiary Institute.

"There's not many of us left. There's so much to learn still from the story, not just on the political level about discrimination and the big issues like genocide, but just at an everyday level.

"We widen the message to all forms of discrimination and persecution, whether on the basis of religion, gender, ethnicity or social status.

"We talk to children about bullying others, the consequences of that, or not staying silent when you see injustices done.

"We quote the English politician and author Edmund Burke, who said the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."

Narev is also helping create a Holocaust memorial in Auckland which he hopes can be opened before he dies.

The Garden of Humanity in the Auckland's domain will hold cobblestones from the Warsaw Ghetto where in 1943 the Jews refused to go to the death camps, staging an uprising against the Germans for five weeks, and Narev hopes it can be marked with a sculpture.

"These cobblestones that lined the Warsaw ghetto's streets, if they could talk, would tell how even in the face of horrendous suffering, the human spirit remained indomitable."

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