When students visit the Centre, they are encouraged to ask questions. Questions are also sent to us from school students across the country who are working on research into the Holocaust. Some questions recently submitted by intermediate and secondary school students are listed below.
Hitler's orders were often ambitious, and Nazi leaders interpreted them in their own way. For example, Hitler never gave explicit orders for the mass murder of the Jews. The leaders of the Gestapo, Himmler, Heidrich, and others put their own interpretation on what they thought Hitler meant.
They were certainly punished if they engaged in active resistance, but if they did nothing to oppose Nazi rule they were not punished, but their job prospects and chances of promotion were limited.
There were no concepts of prefect German. You were either German or not. But many who were considered German on racial lines were persecuted if they were handicapped, gay, or stood up in oppositions to the Nazi regime, eg, Pacifists.
A very small proportion, perhaps less than 10% survived. They almost always tried to rebuild their lives, looking for relatives, children, parents, who were mostly murdered. Many could not face living among people who murdered their families and moved to Israel, and other countries like New Zealand.
For most, there was no life, they were murdered on arrival. Those few who were selected for slave labour were beaten, starved, their names and humanity were taken from them. They were worked until they dropped dead. They were just numbers with no names.
The large majority were Jews from all parts of German occupied Europe, but there were also Russian prisoners of wars, Roma / Gipsies, pacifists, and in particular, Seventh Day Adventists, homosexuals and criminals.
Concentration camps were not Hitler's idea. It was his deputy, Himmler, head of the Gestapo, the secret police, who was initially responsible for setting up concentration camps. Concentration camps were a feature of the Nazi state right from the beginning, Dachau, Buchenwald and others, but extermination camps where no-one survived, like Sobibor, Chelmno, Bełżec and Treblinka were only introduced after the German attack on Russia. Auschwitz was both a concentration camp using slave labour and an extermination camp where people were killed on arrival.
Staff, officers, and inmates were moved from one to another.
Two men escaped from Auschwitz. They wrote a report on what they saw and experienced and sent this to the Red Cross in Switzerland and then it was circulated to the governments of Britain, America and other countries. Probably as a result of this the Hungarian government stopped the deportations.
Initially mobile killing units would go from town to town, village to village, gather all Jews and shoot them into mass graves. Later they set up special exterminations camps where people were killed by poison gas, carbon monoxide at first, and zyklon B later.
There is no record of Hitler personally killing anyone.
Some tried to resume their previous life, many left, moved to Israel and other countries like New Zealand, taking their skills with them.
Babies were killed, along with other children as well as older people who could no longer be used for slave labour.
Most were covered over leaving no trace.
The Nazi leaders were tried for War Crimes, the occupying Allied powers, Britain, France, the US and the Soviet Union installed an administration to run the country until a democratically elected government could take over.
People volunteered. The vast majority of Gestapo officers came from the police forces of the Weimar Republic, members of the SS, the SA, and the NSDAP also joined the Gestapo. When the Nuremberg trials began in 1945, some Gestapo members were individually convicted.
Mengele did indeed experiment on twins. He selected twins on the arrival of each transport and searched for hereditary traits. Very few twins survived.
In Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler defined the symbolism of the swastika flag: the red represents the social idea of the Nazi movement, the white disk represents the national idea, and the black swastika, used in Aryan cultures for millennia, represents "the mission of the struggle for the victory of the Aryan man, and, by the same token, the victory of creative work."
"Holocaust" comes from the the Greek word holokauston, itself a translation of the Hebrew olah, meaning "completely burnt offering to God," implying that Jews and other "undesirables" murdered during World War II were a sacrifice to God.
An acronym for National Socialist; from the German Nationale Sozialist. The term refers to members of the National Socialist party, or anything to do with the National Socialist party.
Some were reclaimed by their owners, many are still lost or held by people who have no rights to them.
Many books were destroyed.
Some worked as slave labourers wherever they were sent.
The star of David is a modern symbol of Judaism that was used by the Nazis to identify and distinguish Jews.
The lucky ones were sent to concentration camps, the unlucky ones were shot, often on the spot.
There were approximately 9.5 million Jews in Europe in 1933. About 5.6 million were killed during the Holocaust.
These presented a problem for the Nazis. They were both Jewish and Aryan. By and large they were allowed to live, but were ostricized.
The Holocaust Centre of New Zealand is located at the Wellington Jewish Community Centre,
80 Webb Street, Te Aro, Wellington 6011.
Open Sunday - Friday 10am - 1pm, and outside these hours by special arrangement.