1.5 murdered children – 1.5 million buttons

January 31, 2013 by David Zwartz
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New Zealand Button Memorial to the Children of the Holocaust was the main theme of United Nations International Holocaust Remembrance Day in Wellington, New Zealand’s capital…a memorial which saw schoolchildren collect one button to represent each young life lost in the Holocaust.

Israeli ambassador to New Zealand Shem Tzur attached button  Photo: Paul Taylor

Israeli ambassador to New Zealand Shem Tzur attached button Photo: Paul Taylor

At the Jewish cemetery in Makara, where graves were desecrated in 2004, the mayor of Wellington Celia Wade-Brown spoke of how such a memorial would add to the city.

“If it can be placed in the new national memorial park being created, it will join other peace memorials and sculptures in the capital that help us remember what evil has been perpetrated that we should avoid, and what good has been done that we should emulate,” the mayor said.

She also referred to the recent Jewish grave desecration in Auckland, and commended the restorative justice response of Auckland Jewish community leaders.

The button memorial is planned to enshrine the 1.5 million buttons collected by pupils of the former Moriah Jewish day school to symbolize the 1.5 million Jewish children who were killed or died during the Holocaust.

One of the pupils who helped collect the buttons also spoke at the ceremony, and stones were placed on the cemetery’s Holocaust Memorial by the Israeli, German and French ambassadors as well as other dignitaries, Wellington’s last surviving Auschwitz inmate, other Holocaust sufferers, and youth representatives.

The second part of the commemoration was at the Wellington Jewish Community Centre, site of the Holocaust Centre of New Zealand. There the Button Memorial to the Children of the Holocaust was explained and supported by the principal of the former Jewish day school, another of its former pupils, and a child prisoner in Terezin concentration camp.

Attorney-General and Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Hon Chris Finlayson spoke movingly of his recent visit to Auschwitz, Warsaw and Cracow.

The audience then placed buttons on a symbolic Yizkor candle, and viewed a display about the Button Memorial in the Holocaust Centre.

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