NZ doubles Auschwitz support

June 17, 2013 by David Zwartz
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The New Zealand government has doubled the grant of €50,000 it made in 2011 to support the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Site.

Minister for Culture and Heritage Hon Chris Finlayson announced the additional contribution of   €50,000 at a Polish National Day reception in Wellington for visiting Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski.

Chris Finlayson

Chris Finlayson

Mr Finlayson – who visited Poland and the Auschwitz-Birkenau site earlier this year – has received a thank you letter from Mr Jacek Kastelaniec, Director-General of the Foundation of Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, who spoke to the Wellington Jewish community in the Van Staveren Room in November 2010.

In his letter, Mr Kastelaniec said that he was deeply touched by news of the further contribution. “Without people like you it would be impossible to fulfill our mission. Your understanding of the great tragedy that occurred in Auschwitz during the II World War is in my opinion the key to our very good relationship with New Zealand.

“I hope that together we will be able to preserve the authenticity of the Auschwitz Memorial so the future generations could visit and try to understand what happened during the Holocaust. That they will see for themselves what can happen when hatred takes reign.”
Mr Kastelaniec hoped that individual donors might also contribute to the project.

Director of the Holocaust Centre of New Zealand, Mrs Inge Woolf, commented: “We applaud this gift by the New Zealand Government to help preserve Auschwitz-Birkenau. It recognises the importance of this site as witness to the atrocities that were perpetrated there. It also underlines the work of the Holocaust Centre here in New Zealand to ensure that the memory of the Holocaust remains in the present, and shapes our future, by teaching people to take individual responsibility for opposing prejudice in all of its forms.”

In a letter to Mr Finlayson, Mrs Woolf said: “When I speak at international forums I always emphasise that we in New Zealand might be far away from where the Holocaust happened but that does not mean that it has no relevance here in this multi-ethnic, multi-cultural society.
“It was a world event of such horror that it has significance to all of us and the lessons we can learn from it must never be forgotten. What you have done underlines this and makes me proud that our small country once again has acted to honour those who perished.”

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