SYDNEY (JTA) – The mayor of Wellington opened the New Zealand capital’s Holocaust Center on Holocaust Remembrance Day.
"The Holocaust Center is an asset for all New Zealanders to reflect on the importance of harmony, diversity, resilience and survival," said Mayor Celia Wade-Brown. "The center’s contribution to understanding and overcoming racial prejudice, hatred and oppression is important."
Among the guests were dignitaries and Israeli diplomats.
The center’s director, Inge Woolf, and her team spent three years building the center. The opening included the unveiling of two suitcases belonging to two Jewish children sent to New Zealand by their parents to escape the war.
“That bitter-sweet mixture of emotions typifies the Jewish experience of life over so many centuries as we have fought anti-Semitism," Woolf said, "sometimes successfully and sometimes not, sometimes accepted by our fellow countrymen and sometimes not.
"But never did we sink lower than we did during the Holocaust when Hitler’s racist policies sought to exterminate us," she continued. "So we who survived have a duty to those that did not to make sure that in this wonderful country of ours, every single person is taught what can happen in even the most civilized society, when governments not only do not protect all their citizens regardless of color or creed but allow discrimination and intolerance to flourish."
There are around 7,000 Jews in New Zealand, mainly in Auckland and Wellington.