During World War II, the Nazis created more than a thousand Jewish ghettos across Europe ranging in size from a few thousand people to the more than 445 000 in the Warsaw Ghetto in German-occupied Poland.
In January 1943 residents of the Warsaw Ghetto refused to be deported to the death camps and fought against the more heavily armed Germans holding them off for nearly five weeks. The cobblestones that lined the Ghetto’s streets, if they could talk, would tell how even in the face of horrendous suffering, the human spirit remained indomitable.
The cobblestones that will be incorporated into the Garden of Humanity originate from Chlodna Street in the Warsaw Ghetto and were gifted some years ago to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in Washington, D.C. from the Warsaw City Authority in Warsaw, Poland. More than 2000 square feet of these cobblestones are on permanent exhibition at USHMM, forming a small street that one can actually walk over.
The hundreds of remaining cobblestones have been shared with museums and Jewish communities all over the world and used to construct memorials to the Holocaust, from Salt Lake City, Utah to Havana, Cuba. Five years ago, the Auckland War Memorial Museum donated approximately 200 cobblestones to the Auckland Hebrew Congregation giving New Zealand’s Jewish Community a unique opportunity to memorialize a singular event in world history.
A committee, spearheaded by child Holocaust survivor Bob Narev, was formed with the intention of working with an artist or sculptor to create a permanent outdoor memorial to the Holocaust that incorporates the cobblestones.
The working party
Robert (Bob) Narev MNZM
Founding member, trustee and chair
In August 1942 when Bob Narev was six years old, he and his parents were arrested and sent to the Theresienstadt concentration camp in Czechoslovakia.
Bob’s father died in Theresienstadt; he and his mother remained there for two years until February 1945, after which they were sent to Switzerland. The rest of their immediate family perished in the Holocaust. Bob and his mother Gertrud immigrated to New Zealand in 1947.
Bob went on to study and practice law and serves on a number of Holocaust and other charitable trusts. He and his wife Freda, also a Holocaust survivor, are actively involved in Holocaust education in schools around New Zealand.
John Barnett ONZM
John Barnett is a New Zealand TV and film producer. He is also a Trustee of the Auckland Museum Foundation.
Trustee and treasurer
Dian Ross is a philanthropist and champion of the arts in New Zealand.
Sheree Stone - Trustee and Project manager, Nadine Rubin Nathan - Spokesperson, Anna Nathan, Andrea Robinson.