Dame Patsy sent this message to the participants at the World Holocaust Forum Conference 2020 taking place at Yad Vashem on 23 January
Remembering the Holocaust and Fighting Antisemitism
As your conference on “Remembering the Holocaust and Fighting Antisemitism” convenes, I am reminded of my visit to Yad Vashem in October 2017. My reactions were very much like those of the many thousands of others who have gone to Yad Vashem. Although I knew the experience would be a harrowing one, nevertheless it was personally challenging to take in the Museum’s narrative of the events leading up to the Holocaust and then its horrifying implementation. Knowing that New Zealand had denied entry to some desperate Jewish refugees in the 1930s, I felt deeply saddened by my country’s own small part in these grim events. I was glad of the opportunity to pay my respects afterwards by laying a wreath in commemoration of the Holocaust victims. As Patron of the Holocaust Centre in New Zealand this was a particularly important aspect of my visit to Israel.
The Holocaust is one of the greatest tragedies of modern history. The systematic execution of millions of innocent people is a terrible reminder of what can happen if extreme ideology and hatred is left unchecked. We must all remain vigilant. New Zealand has this year experienced the devastating effects of hatred which culminated in the terror attacks on mosques in Christchurch. This has further strengthened our commitment to standing with our international partners against hatred and intolerance. To this end, we are ever committed to our friends in Israel.
In our own day, it is for national leaders and their people around the world to stand firm against every form of intolerance wherever it may be found. It is only through a deep understanding of the lessons of history that we can ensure atrocities such as the Holocaust never happen again.
May your conference reinforce the message of diversity and inclusion to which we in New Zealand are firmly committed. With all best wishes.
Dame Patsy Reddy, GNZM, QSO
Governor-General of New Zealand