Here you will find the unique stories of New Zealanders who were born in Europe and whose lives were turned upside down by Nazism.  It covers their experiences in Europe, their departure and escape from Europe, and their lives at our end of the world. It encourages you to look at the moral and ethical dilemmas faced at the time, many of which are still relevant today.

Alfred

Born, raised, and schooled in Berlin, Alfred experienced the Nazi regime as a child. His father was arrested shortly after witnessing the devastation carried out during the Reichskristallnacht when his department store was destroyed. He returned home, a broken man. Fred himself was consigned to work as a servant in the house of SS officials in a...

Click here for more

Ben

Even as a little boy in his native Hungary, Ben remembers the increase of intolerance towards Jews in the 1930s. In 1944 the Nazis took his father away and his mother sent Ben to what she hoped would be the safety of a catholic boarding school at Estergom. That safety proved to illusive as the Jewish children there...

Click here for more

Bob

Bob was born and grew-up in Germany. He and his family were arrested and sent to Theresienstadt (Terezin, Czechoslovakia) in August 1942. They remained there until February 1945 when he and his mother were sent to Switzerland on a prisoner exchange programme. The rest of the family perished in the Holocaust. After the war Bob emigrated to...

Click here for more

Clare

Clare (born Klara) was about five years old when she moved with her family from Budapest to rural Szombathely. Her father, a successful businessman, had served in the First World War with the Austro-Hungarian Army and the family considered themselves to be “patriotic” Hungarians. Clare’s mother was studying to be a doctor when she met Clare’s father and...

Click here for more

Freda

Freda was born and raised in Poland. Her father was a retailer, her mother a teacher. Following the Russian invasion from the east, and shortly before the Germans invaded her town of Widze from the west, local antisemitic thugs ('riff-raff') lined up ten prominent members of the Jewish community and killed them. Freda’s father was one of those...

Click here for more

Gerti

Gerti was born in Montabaur, Germany, a small town of about 5,000 inhabitants. One of two siblings, Gerti had a younger brother Henry. Gerti's father was an apprentice banker who then went on to run the family store. There were about 25 to 30 Jewish families in the local community. They tended to socialise amongst themselves more than...

Click here for more

Hanka

Hanka Svarc was born in Rakovnik near Prague, Czechoslovakia. Her parents owned and operated a retail business, her father having worked his way up from apprentice­ship. Hanka remembers the family as not being particularly religious but they did observe the Jewish holidays and calendar. Relations were good with the non-Jewish locals and at that time in her life...

Click here for more

Hansi

Hansi was born and raised in Berlin, Germany. In 1939 she and her family were evicted from their family home. They were forced to live in accommodation provided by the SS through the local Jewish Committee. Hansi was put to work in an ammunition factory from which she was arrested in February 1943 and taken straight to Auschwitz...

Click here for more

Helen

In May 1944 Helen Erdos was forced to move into a ghetto where she stayed for some 20 weeks before being crammed into a cattle truck and sent by train to Auschwitz. She remained there until liberation in May 1945. After the war she emigrated to New Zealand, arriving here on 27th May 1948. ...

Click here for more

Click for Helen's testimonies

Jack

Jack (originally Jakob) was born and grew-up in Riga, in Latvia. As a child, he remembered Anti-Semitism being quite prevalent. His family were quite political, and even at his young age he remember debates about different Jewish political issues. The Baltics - Latvia Lithuania and Estonia, which was a contested territory having formerly been part of the...

Click here for more

Judith

Judith war born and grew-up in Amsterdam, Holland. While her family were observant Jews, they were quite integrated, having many Gentile friends and neighbours. She went to a non-Jewish school, but had Hebrew and Jewish Relgious class each week. After the Nazi invasion of Holland Judith and her family lived in hiding for the course of the...

Click here for more

Judy

Until the age of ten Judy lived a normal childhood with her parents and sister in Hamburg, Germany. The family was Jewish but felt foremost German. Although observing Hanukkah (the Festival of Lights), Judy’s parents were not particularly religious. Judy’s father, a businessmen, fought for Germany in the First World War and won a distinction award. Her mother,...

Click here for more

Katalin

In 1944 Katalin's entire family of ten was arrested and transported by horse and cart to the Illespusztat ghetto near her home town and subsequently by cattle train to Auschwitz. Katalin was taken to the showers, her head shaved, and all her belongings taken off her. She was then sent to work in a nearby stone mine at...

Click here for more

Click for Katalin's testimonies

Mimi

Mimi Kohane and her four sisters Helene, Anni, Regina and Margot lived in Metzer Strasse, Berlin, from 1919 to 1939. Before the First World War her parents Pinchus and Adele had moved to Berlin from Tarnov in Poland. Mimi later remembered that time of her early life in Berlin as one of “love, Jewish tradition, and the inconsolable...

Click here for more

Olga

After the Nazis annexed Hungary in 1944 Olga and her family were forced to move into the ghetto in Budapest and soon afterwards they were deported to Auschwitz. In the camp, Olga worked as a medical asssitance in the camp health clinic. There were few medicines, and inmates who did not recover quickly, were usually dispatched by the...

Click here for more

Ruth

Ruth grew-up Jewish in a small town called Hildesheim not far from Hanover, in Germany. She remembers a largely carefree existence growing-up. She attended the local school.  "I think it was six years old when you started school in Germany and we got what they called a Zuckertüte (which translated - Zucker is sugar and Tüte is...

Click here for more

Sol

Sol was helping his parents in their village bakery when Poland was invaded from both sides: by German Army from the west, and Russian Army from the east. Requisitioned to bake 400 loaves of bread for the invaders, Sol was unable to escape across the border as he was planning to do, not that those who did manage...

Click here for more

Steven

Steven Sedley was born and raised in Budapest Hungary. He still remembers vividly the walks he took with his father, a pharmaceutical wholesaler and 'avid sportsman'. They would cross the bridge over the Danube from Buda to Pest and admire the wonderful colours of the Byzantine Jewish synagogue. He joined the synagogue choir though he recalls humorously he...

Click here for more