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Holocaust revisited

IMOGEN NEALE
Last updated 05:00 28/07/2010
anne frank
CLOSE TO HOME: Papakura District Council’s community development manager Leora Hirsh’s family escaped Nazi Germany in 1938. She’s thrilled the local museum is hosting the Anne Frank exhibition.

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Papakura Museum wants to hear from any locals who experienced persecution during the Nazi regime in preparation for the first-ever nationwide tour of the Anne Frank exhibition.

Anne Frank, A History For Today opened at Te Papa earlier this year and will be housed in the Papakura Museum from February 23 to March 23 next year.

The exhibition, developed by the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, has been brought to New Zealand by the Netherlands NZ Foundation.

It is based on the diary of Anne Frank, a teenager who died in Auschwitz in 1945. For many years she lived in hiding with her family and others in "The Secret Annex", sheltered and supported by opponents to the Nazi regime, a stand that would have had them killed.

Museum administrator Kay Thomas says Papakura has a large Dutch community, many of whom arrived in the years immediately after World War Two.

"Any of these families may have helped shelter people from persecution during the war," she says.

"We would love to hear their stories and record these as part of our local history.

"Other members of our community may have been affected in other ways."

For Papakura District Council's community development manager Leora Hirsh the exhibition holds special significance.

Ms Hirsh's immediate family escaped Nazi Germany in 1938 and were accepted into New Zealand as refugees while others in the family made it to England through the "kinder transport" system.

Many of her extended family did not survive the holocaust.

"I remember my great-uncle telling me about how they were gradually restricted from more and more of everyday life by the Nazi party," she says.

"Anne's diary also tracks this rapid erosion of everyday rights following the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands."

Ms Hirsh says the impact on her own family wasn't only one of loss but also of displacement and dispersal.

"Now of course, there are so few people alive who witnessed what happened. If we can find people locally who remember those times, it would add so much to the relevance of the exhibition for local people.

"There are so many lessons we can learn by remembering the past," she says.

The Anne Frank exhibition will be the first in the museum's new exhibition space.

Organisers say schools working on their 2011 timetable have already made bookings.

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- Papakura Courier

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