Key invited to share his Jewish ancestry

  • 14/08/2009

By Sia Aston
Prime Minister John Key shared his, rarely known, Jewish heritage at a school in Wellington today.

Key visited Wellington's Jewish Moriah School and talked about his mother's escape from Nazi-occupied Austria.

Key's Austrian-born mother fled to England in 1939 as the Nazi occupation spread.

He says his mother was fortunate to escape.

“My mother was very lucky, she managed to escape the holocaust. She was living in Vienna when the Nazi’s invaded Austria,” he says.

The Moriah School children are collecting buttons for those who were not as lucky as Key’s mother - one for every child who died in the holocaust.

Children at the Jewish school learn the shameful history of the holocaust in class and in the holocaust centre adjoining the school.

Key said the whole experience was very special.

“It's very moving actually, I mean you've got a situation where the stories that I heard from the ladies in the holocaust centre were very similar to the stories my own mother told me,” he says.

Former Premier Julius Vogel and Prime Minister Francis Dillon Henry Bell were Jews who served in the 1870s and 1920s, prior to the holocaust, but Key is much closer to that history.

Keys says everyone has stories from their past that shape their world view.

“I think there’s a lot of different factors that go into the way you see the world. I think all of us have learnt some lessons from history and we hope they're never repeated,” he says.

And meeting a Jewish-born Prime Minister today is a lesson the children at the Jewish Moriah School are unlikely to forget.

3 News


source: newshub archive