Irene Sendler continues to help

November 15, 2013 by J-Wire
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‘The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler’, has been shown at the Victoria University Memorial Theatre in Wellington. New Zealand,  to raise funds for a proposed New Zealand Children’s Holocaust Memorial to the 1.5 million children who perished as a consequence of Nazi persecution during the Holocaust.

osef Livne, Ambassador for Israel, Carol Ratnam event co-ordinator and volunteer at the NZ Holocaust Centre, Inge Woolf, Founding Director of NZ Holocaust Centre, David Zwartz Chair of the Wellington Jewish Regional Council and MC for the event.

osef Livne, Ambassador for Israel, Carol Ratnam event co-ordinator and volunteer at the NZ Holocaust Centre, Inge Woolf, Founding Director of NZ Holocaust Centre, David Zwartz Chair of the Wellington Jewish Regional Council and MC for the event.

Polish citizens have the world’s highest count of individuals awarded the status of Righteous Among the Nations – 6,394 (as of 1 January 2013) – over 25 percent of the total number of 24,811.

Wellington Mayor, Celia Wade-Brown, Founding Director of NZ Holocaust Centre, Inge Woolf, Director of NZ Holocaust Centre, Simone Gigliotti

Wellington Mayor, Celia Wade-Brown, Founding Director of NZ Holocaust Centre, Inge Woolf, Director of NZ Holocaust Centre, Simone Gigliotti

Irena Sendler

Irena Sendler

Irena Sendler was one of them. She saved 2,500 Jewish children mainly from the Warsaw Ghetto and then, with help from the resistance organisation, Zegato, provided each with false identity documents and a safe haven in a Polish home or institution.

Supported primarily by the Polish Embassy, who negotiated the free use of the film for the occasion, the Israeli Embassy, Victoria University International School and the New Zealand Holocaust Research and Education Centre, Temple Sinai and local businesses plus around 200 people who came to see it.

Carol Ratnam, who coordinated and arranged the evening, said the idea for a memorial to the children who perished in the Holocaust emanated from an initiative of the students and teachers at the then Moriah College.

“To get an idea of how big 1.5 million is, Moriah College decided to collect 1.5 million buttons – one button for each child that was killed,” she said. “The scale of this project was enormous. It took years to collect the buttons. Hours and hours of time had been spent collecting and counting the buttons.”

She said the community’s task is to build the Children’s Memorial as a reminder that we must make certain that all children reach their potential in a safe, secure, tolerant and compassionate world.

“When we do get to build the New Zealand Children’s Holocaust Memorial we will see that it is made up of 1.5 million buttons. Each button will be different and unique, like the children they represent,” she said.

The film was introduced by MP Paul Foster-Bell who spoke on behalf of Hon Chris Finlayson, Minister for Culture and Heritage, the Ambassador of Poland, Beata Stoczyńska, and the Ambassador of Israel, Yosef Livne.

Academy award actress Anna Paquin who played the title role in the film sent her good wishes for the success of the fundraiser. Anna said she “was deeply honoured to have the opportunity to portray Irena who refused to concede that her work made her some kind of hero and insisted that she was simply doing what any person should do in her situation.

If only more people had thought similarly.

 

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