The walls of Bob and Freda Narev's home are lined with photos of their children and grandchildren.
They count themselves lucky to be here at all, let alone to have a family.
The Narevs have committed the last two years to sharing their stories about growing up in World War II and have been invited into schools to pass on their memories to students.
"We lived through the information they've read about.
"Neither of us reads a lot about the Holocaust because it's not a very nice thing to relive.
"For years we didn't talk about it and didn't tell our children about it until they started to ask us questions," Mrs Narev says.
Explaining the events and teaching youngsters about the consequences of prejudice are the most important lessons, she says.
Freda Malaski was 3 years old when the war forced her Jewish family out of its home in Vidze, Poland.
Her father was shot and one of her sisters, Esther, disappeared on a trip to see relatives in Lithuania.
Mrs Narev says her mother and older sister Lisa were shipped to a ghetto in 1945 where they worked - and starved.
Her mother gave her up to a stranger, hoping she would survive.
"She saved my life. It was a bit like Moses in the rushes pushed out into the unknown by his mother, hoping he would be saved. I was, because they were very kind people. They were a Catholic family and I lived and worked on a farm and that's all I knew.
"I wasn't allowed to tell anyone I was Jewish because my parents were already dead and I would be killed too if anyone knew . . . I'd also put the entire family in danger for hiding a Jewish girl."
She was eventually reunited with her sister Lisa.
The sisters lived in two refugee camps in Germany before moving to New Zealand to be with family.
Mr Narev was born in Germany. His father was a Jewish teacher who was told he was unfit to teach Germans and fired.
"One day we were summoned by the Nazis to report to the train station to board a train. None of us knew where it was going to.
"My parents and I and my two grandmothers were taken to a concentration camp in Czechoslovakia."
Only Bob and his mother survived the camp. They were later freed in exchange for German prisoners of war in Switzerland.
"When they asked us who wanted to go to Switzerland, no-one wanted to go. They all thought it was a trick and they'd be sent to the death camps. I nagged my mother because I wanted to go for a train ride and she said yes.
"By luck, we were free to go."
The Narevs say it's important to talk about the war so the history will not be forgotten.
"Our story needed to be told. I believe whether it was fate or luck or God, somehow I survived to tell the story for everyone who died.
"We realised that there are people here whose stories were being lost," Mrs Narev says.
Visit holocaustcentre.org.nz for more stories of survival.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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