Home' Greymouth Star : September 9th 2017 Contents Greymouth Star
of the Bay of Plenty Times
he hole in the field was
shaped like a grave.
It had a thatched roof that
dripped icy water down
the earthen walls from the
melting winter snow piled
In darkness, the Jewish family huddled
in the grave, perched on a plank of wood
with their knees drawn up to keep their
feet from hanging into the icy water
pooling on the dirt floor.
To sleep they took turns or lay stacked
on the plank. Peter Gaspar, the littlest, was
It was December 1944.
At this moment in Gaspar’s story of
Holocaust sur vival, you could have heard
a pin drop in Mount Maunganui College
On Thursday, senior history students
and a Year 9 class had, as social science
department head Derek Boston put it, “a
once-in-a -lifetime opportunity” to hear
directly from a sur vivor of the genocide
and atrocities committed by the Nazis in
World War Two.
The school was one of 30 that Gaspar,
80, of Melbourne, will visit during his
three weeks in New Zealand, accompanied
by wife Lesley.
The programme that brought him here,
the Jewish Federation of New Zealand’s
annual Hope Project, has been running for
seven years but this was the first time it
had brought a speaker to Tauranga.
“The purpose of the talk is to learn from
the mistakes of the past for the sake of a
better future,” Gaspar said.
He asked students to be “upstanders
not bystanders”, and to find the courage
to speak out when they saw racism,
intolerance, bigotry or bullying of any
“O ur greatest power is our voice.”
Peter Gaspar’s story began in June 1942
in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia. Aged five he
was sent home from preschool because he
was a Jew.
His father Irme Gaspar was sacked from
his job because he was a Jew.
Forty of his relatives were arrested and
never seen again. He later found out they
were deported to Auschwitz, where they
were murdered because they were Jews.
His family escaped the first wave of
arrests and, with the help of non-Jewish
friends, went into hiding for three years.
Gaspar called these people “the rescuers”
and said that without them he would not
have sur vived.
With a small suitcase between them,
the trio were shunted under the cover of
night between the cupboards, roof cavities
and cellars of people with the courage and
moral strength to realise that what the
Nazis were doing was wrong.
When the city became too dangerous
they moved to a village; living in garden
sheds, haystacks, barns and, for one
miserable week, the grave.
Gaspar became ill in the grave and the
family were forced to hand themselves
over to police.
They were separated. He and his mother,
Jenny Gaspar, were taken by cattle
train to Terezin concentration camp in
Czechoslovakia. His father was taken to
Sachsenhausen camp in Germany and
kept as a slave worker.
They were liberated six months later and
reunited in Bratislava. They discovered
an uncle, Paul Weiss, had also sur vived.
He had fainted at morning roll call at
Auschwitz and was tossed on a pile of
dead bodies outside the death camp. He
woke up under still warm bodies and
The Gaspars moved to Australia in 1949.
His parents never really recovered from
what they experienced or from leaving
Gaspar adjusted better — going to
school, learning English, getting a degree
and a job, meeting his wife and starting a
family of his own.
Later in life, he took his two children
and first grandchild to visit some of the
“I asked them one question: Why did you
do it? They all gave the same answer: ‘we
did it because it was the right thing to do’.”
Student comments. —
Maraingi Marsh: “It was really
inspiring. It really put our lives into a new
Sharna Moffat: “ We can study history and
read about it but hearing it first hand really
opens your mind to what it was like to live
Samual Taylor; “It was deeply moving.
Phenomenal. We’re so lucky to tap such a
raw source of information.”
Niamh Priest: “It’s a really prominent
subject in school, Nazi Germany, but to
listen to someone who experienced it was
4 - Saturday, September 9, 2017
We appreciate the value of the Letters to the Editor
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uLetters to the editor
1776 - Second Continental Congress in
Philadelphia changes the name United Colonies
to United States.
1901 - Death of French painter
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.
1945 - US troops land in South
Korea at end of World War Two,
Soviets take over north from
Japanese, and 38th parallel is made
1976 - Death of communist
Chinese leader Mao Tse-tung at age 82.
1993 - Israel and the Palestine Liberation
Organisation agree to recognise each other,
signalling hope for peace between Jews and
Arabs in the Middle East.
1997 - Sinn Fein, political ally of the IRA,
formally renounces violence and enters talks on
the future of Northern Ireland; Death, aged 89,
of US actor Burgess Meredith.
2003 - Edward Teller, pioneer in molecular
physics dubbed the Father of the H-bomb, dies,
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Cardinal Richelieu, French churchman-
statesman (1585-1642); William Bligh, mariner
and governor of NSW (1754-1817); Leo
(Lev) Nikolayevich Tolstoy, Russian
author (1828-1910); Bert Oldfield,
Australian cricketer (1894-1976);
John Grey Gorton, former Australian
prime minister (1911-2002); Dave
Stewart, musician-producer (1952-);
Hugh Grant, British actor (1960-);
Adam Sandler, US actor-comedian
(1966-); Michael Buble, Canadian
singer (1975-); Michelle Williams, US actress
“Think wrongly if you please, but in all cases,
think for yourself.” — Gotthold Lessing,
German dramatist-critic (1729-1781).
“ Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do
for the friends, even though they are strangers
to you; they have testified to your love before
the church. ” — (3 John 1:5-6).
changing the aspect
of Herbert Street
were two bulldozers
this week as they demolished the building and
fences on the corner with Leonard Street. They
were making way for the ‘new ’ Union Hotel
which will have new bar facilities on the corner
and expand to motels and a large parking area
at the rear.
Its owner Mr J F Pegley said the project
would probably be carried out in two stages
with the new and extensive bar facilities being
A plaque has been erected on Hokitika’s
oldest building — the old lighthouse — by
Seaview Hospital authorities. The plaque gives
an outline of the history of the building which
was reser ved as a lighthouse site in 1876 and
completed in 1879 when a dioptric light of the
fifth order was installed, using the town’s gas
supply. The building was closed as a lighthouse
in 1925 and the light removed to the Marine
Department in Wellington.
The building was used as a coastal watch
station during World War Two by members
of the 17th Independent Company and was
recently extensively renovated by hospital
A trading vessel went aground and was
eventually abandoned on the north tip at
Greymouth and another vessel became a total
wreck at Okuru, South Westland, reported the
Greymouth Evening Star in early September
The Jane was the first of the ships to get
into difficulties when she was stranded at
Okuru and within days became a total wreck.
The Opouri was battered by a rough bar and
became stranded on the north tip. The £25,000
ship was abandoned by her owners.
uFood for thought
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The last time when
North Korean nuclear
weapons might have been
headed off by diplomacy
was 15 or 20 years ago,
when there was a deal
freezing North Korean
work on nuclear weapons,
and then one stopping the
country’s work on long-
range ballistic missiles.
If they had been negotiated with the
same attention to detail that was given
to the recent deal that has frozen Iran’s
nuc lear programme for 10 years, maybe
North Korea’s quest for nuclear-tipped
ICBMs could have been stopped for good
— or maybe not, because North Korea
has always wanted an effective deterrent
to the permanent United States nuclear
At any rate, both the nuclear and the
missile deals with North Korea failed
after a couple of years. Pyongyang and
Washington were equally to blame for
the breakdowns, resorting to tit-for-tat
retaliation for various perceived breaches
of the deal by the other side.
But it was the US which had more
to lose, since it faced no nuclear threat
from North Korea unless the deals were
abandoned and North Korea’s weapons
research went ahead. What we have
seen recently — two ICBM tests in July,
another one last month, and now what
was almost certainly North Korea’s first
test of a thermonuclear weapon (hydrogen
bomb) — is the inevitable result of the
It took a lot of time and effort to
get Pyongyang’s bomb and missile
programmes to this point, and it seems
clear that Kim Jong Un’s regime decided
the safest way to test the new weapons and
vehicles was all at once. He is right.
Stringing the tests out over a couple
of years might have given the country’s
enemies time to organise a complete trade
embargo against North Korea, or maybe
even some form of attack. The safer course
was to bunch the tests up, get the outraged
reactions over fast, and then hope the
whole issue will fade into the background.
That is what both India and Pakistan
did in 1998, and it worked for them.
Everybody eventually got used to the idea
that they were more or less legitimate
nuclear weapons powers.
India and Pakistan did not bother doing
all their missile tests at once, because
they had enough space to carry them
out over their own land and maritime
territory. North Korea is much smaller and
entirely surrounded by Chinese, Russian
and Japanese territory, so any long-range
tests are bound to pass over one of those
countries. Pyongyang chose Japan, because
But even its ICBM test on August 30,
when the Japanese government ordered
its citizens in parts of Hokkaido into the
shelters, did not enter Japanese air space.
The missile crossed Japan at a sub-orbital
altitude, and the Japanese authorities knew
that it would as soon as the boost phase
ended. The pictures of allegedly panic-
stricken Japanese civilians in shelters
were propaganda meant to ser ve Prime
Minister Abe’s project for remilitarising
There is no good “military option”
available to the US and its allies in the
current crisis, even though President
Trump says, “ We’ll see.”
A direct US attack on North Korea using
only conventional weapons would not
get all of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal,
which is hidden in hardened underground
sites or moved around by night on mobile
launchers. It would also call down “fire and
fury” on Seoul from 10,000 North Korean
artillery pieces and short-range rockets.
A US nuclear attack would probably still
not get all of Kim Jong Un’s nukes: North
Korea is the hardest intelligence target in
the world. Pyongyang may already be able
to reach the US with one or two ICBMs
carrying thermonuclear warheads, and it
can certainly reach all of South Korea and
The political options for the US and
its Asian allies are equally constrained.
Trump’s talk of stopping US trade with
any country that trades with North Korea
is really aimed at China (which already
operates selective embargoes on various
North Korean exports). Cutting US
trade with China would cause immense
disruption to the American economy, and
it is unlikely that Trump would actually
Normally, when human beings encounter
a problem that they can not eliminate,
they find ways of living with it. It often
takes a while for them to get there,
however, and we are currently in the
dangerous phase where people (or at least
some people) are convinced that there
must be something they can do to make
the problem go away.
The only excuse for radical action now
would be a conviction that Kim Jong Un
is a crazy man who will use his nuclear
weapons to launch an unprovoked attack
on the US, even though it would certainly
lead to his own death and that of his entire
regime. If you truly believe that, then the
right course of action is an all-out nuclear
attack on North Korea right now.
Other wise, start dialling back the
rhetoric, because you are eventually going
to have to accept that North Korea now
has a usable nuclear deterrent. You can live
with that, because it is better than fighting
a nuclear war.
Gwynne Dyer is an independent
journalist whose articles are published in
North Korea’s nukes
WORLD IN FOCUS
with Gwynne Dyer
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves at a photo session with attendants in the fourth Active Secretaries of Primary
Organisation of KPA Youth.
I was driving from Greymouth to
Westport just recently.
It was one of those moody days —
showers, low cloud, mist — where the
landscape and its features keep changing
and shifting. Familiar landmarks were
hidden from sight. New features
were made evident because the
cloud was showing them up into
There are things you can see from only
one direction — some on the way up and
some on the way back.
There is a wonderful wood stack work of
art just as you come into Westport — but
you can only catch a glimpse of it as you
are leaving. There is a great trout in the
middle of the wood stack wall.
The whole trip reminded me of
a verse from Paul’s letter to the people
living in Corinth (1Corinthians
In an older version of the scriptures it
reads like this: For now we see through a
glass darkly; but then face to face; now I
know in part; but then shall I know even
as also I am known.
I really like that phrase “through a glass
A newer version has it differently: For
now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then
we will see face to face. Now I know only
in part; then I will know fully, even as I
have been fully known.
Our journey through life and
particularly in relation to our faith is like
this. We have glimpses of faith; features
that shift us and prompt us to see things
differently. We look back and can put
a completely different meaning to an
experience than at the time. We can find
the wonderful in the ordinary.
Jesus invites us to engage in living
with God. He invites us to look around
and see with God ’s eyes; invites us to
join in God ’s world and work that is
happening all around us. We do not have
to have it all clear — we can proceed
while seeing dimly and knowing only in
Greymouth Uniting Church
Glimpses of faith
‘Speak out’ — Holocaust survivor
Peter Gaspar speaks to students.
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