International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2021

Ten years ago today we launched  The Violinist: Clare Galambos Winter, Holocaust Survivor. I’m delighted that it has been reprinted in time for the Holocaust Remembrance Day reception at Parliament this afternoon. I intended the book to be relevant to future readers and Clare’s story will never date.

Today the theme was displaced persons. We heard from speakers young and old about the importance of ‘upstanding’ rather than ‘standing by’ in the face of racism and bigotry in its many forms.

This month the world’s attention has been on events in the United States, culminating in President Trump’s supporters storming the Capitol in Washington three weeks ago. On that day, democracy was saved but, as President Biden warned  in his inauguration address, democracy is fragile. I was most impressed with Timothy Snyder’s powerful article in the New York Times,  The American Abyss, which led me to his book, On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century. It isn’t hard to join the dots and relate his lessons to our own time now in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Dean Parker, 1947–2020

I’m shocked and deeply saddened by Dean’s death this week. I feel the loss of losing a new friend as much as a colleague. It was my great pleasure to come to know Dean as he worked on his play, Shirley and Bill. He rewrote it after the recent playreading at Circa, taking into account many comments and suggestions from those who saw it, wanting to get it right. He looked forward to what he hoped would be a full production at Circa Theatre in the future.

Dean commented that he was incredibly lucky that the reading occurred before the Covid-19 lockdown. Lucky also that Circa’s production of his play Wonderful was in those weeks before the theatre closed its doors. I saw Wonderful, and it was just that, the best theatre experience I can remember in a long time.

Tremendously gifted, Dean was also modest, generous and great fun. A huge loss to his friends and family, and to all New Zealanders.

photo by Philip Merry