U.N. International Holocaust Remembrance Day – Wellington
Wellington’s UN International Holocaust Remembrance Day was honored by New Zealand’s Attorney-General and honoured the organiser of the Anne Frank tour.
While in some ways the fifth annual UN International Holocaust Remembrance Day commemoration in New Zealand’s capital Wellington followed the pattern set by previous years, there were two highlights – a stirring challenge from the country’s Attorney-General, and a moving tribute to the 86-year-old organiser of the Anne Frank Exhibition tour.
The day of remembrance began in the rural setting of Wellington’s Jewish cemetery, where a large number of dignitaries and members of the public laid a stone at the Holocaust Memorial after prayers and addresses from the Mayor of Wellington (Celia Wade-Brown), New Zealand’s Race Relations Commissioner, Dame Susan Devoy, and Benya Klapaukh, a young member of the small group of Jewish day school students who collected 1.5 million buttons to remember the 1.5 million Jewish children killed in the Shoah.
Participants then moved to the Wellington Jewish Community Centre where Hon Chris Finlayson, the Attorney-General and Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage made the strong challenge to never let Holocaust remembrance decline into impersonal or formulaic observance.
“We must never forget the stories of survivors as individuals, whose devastating experiences point the way to how our own behaviour can work to prevent future genocides,” he said.
Mr Finlayson also stressed the importance of planning for widespread and effective commemorations in 2015 which sees the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz death camp by the Soviet Army in 1945.
Other speakers were Ian McKinnon, chairman of the NZ National Commission for UNESCO, a co-sponsor of the day’s events, and a high school teacher, Melanie McGrath, one of twenty who attended a special Yad Vashem training course on Holocaust education part-sponsored by the Holocaust Centre and the Embassy of Israel.
Dutch-born Boyd (Boudewijn) Klap CNZM was honoured by the Holocaust Centre of New Zealand for his inspiring dedication to bringing the Anne Frank House exhibition to New Zealand. It toured for nearly three years and was seen by over 200,000 people. The Minister read out a special message of thanks from the director of the Anne Frank House, Amsterdam.
Thanks to Mr Klap, the exhibition is also now touring Australia.