Despite spending a significant part of his childhood in a Nazi concentration camp, Robert Narev holds no animosity towards the German people of today.
Narev spoke at Expressions this week, at The Shadows of Shoah exhibition.
The exhibition is photographer Perry Trotter’s attempt to reflect the humanity behind the Holocaust’s grim statistics.
Narev reluctantly returned to his German birthplace where he was invited to speak at a local school.
“One of the boys asked me whether our children will hate them – those children.
“My answer was quite simple ‘of course not. They weren’t even born when it happened”, but we will never forget and in some cases can’t forgive what the previous generations did to us.”
In August 1942, Narev, his parents and his two grandmothers were required to report to the local railway station with 1000 other Jewish people.
They were transported to the concentration camp of Theresienstadt, in Czechoslovakia.
“My father and the two older ladies died fairly soon afterwards.”
Narev’s mother was forced to work in a munitions factory, and that may be the reason the pair survived.
“My mother and I had the good fortune, if one could call it that, of remaining in that camp for over two years, unlike the many thousands who were taken from there to the death camp at Auschwitz.”
They were liberated three months before the war ended and migrated to New Zealand “where we literally found Paradise and a good life”.
Narev said he has little recollection of the time because adults shielded him as they could and memory plays strange tricks, moving bad things to back of the mind.
However, Freda, his wife of 57 years, had lost both parents before she was old enough to know them with the consequent loss of identity.
The deaths of his father, two grandmothers and a other relatives had left an indelible shadow on their lives, he said.
“But unlike my late mother, who suffered from recurring nightmares until her death some 35 years ago, we as child survivors have not been left with any apparent trauma.”
From time to time Narev is asked to speak of his experiences at schools and to adult groups where he tries to generalise the Holocaust lessons to oppression and discrimination generally, and bullying both in and outside the playground being left unchallenged, he said.
Originally published HERE.