Children's Holocaust Memorial

In 2008 Justine Hitchcock, the Principal of Moriah College in Wellington, along with her primary school students, began collecting buttons in an attempt to illustrate the vast number of children killed in the Holocaust between 1939 and 1945. They collected 1.5 million buttons from all over the world, each representing a child that perished.

Between 1939 and 1945, the Nazis and their collaborators killed as many as 1.5 million Jewish children during the Holocaust. The Children’s Holocaust Memorial was designed to remember these children as well as the unaccounted thousands of Romani children, children with disabilities, Polish children and children residing in the occupied Soviet Union. It contains the collection of 1.5 million buttons and was established to honour and give a voice to the children, to serve as a reminder to stand up to prejudice, discrimination, and apathy.

The memorial incorporates twelve escalating ‘nesting tables’ and eighteen portraits. The first and smallest table is lined with mirrors where the viewer can observe themself. The next holds a single button, representing one child. The third, a small group of buttons representing a family unit. Each table increases in size and volume of buttons, with the twelfth holding almost one million buttons. The eighteen portraits tell the stories of children from different countries that shared a similar fate during the Holocaust.