Children's holocaust memorial, a button and picture of a child.

Children's Holocaust Memorial

This exhibition is now closed.

From 16 Nov 2018 to June 2019 | 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday | 9am to 1pm Saturday | Ground floor

A unique Memorial honouring the 1.5 million children killed during the Holocaust 'giving a voice to those who cannot speak' and serving as a reminder to stand up to prejudice, discrimination and apathy.

A partnership with the Holocaust Centre of New Zealand

The National Library in partnership with the Holocaust Centre of New Zealand is proud to host the Children's Holocaust Memorial. A memorial made by young people to honour other young people who were killed in their millions in another place and time.

We encourage you to visit this powerful and moving memorial to the children of the Holocaust to learn more and reflect on what must never be forgotten.

How many is 1.5 million?

The Germans and their collaborators killed as many as 1.5 million children during the Holocaust including children related to New Zealand's Holocaust survivors and refugees. 

When Justine Hitchcock (Principal of Wellington’s Moriah Jewish Day School) was teaching her young pupils about the Holocaust she decided to help the children understand the enormity of 1.5 million lives lost.

Justine initiated a project to collect 1.5 million buttons — one button for each child that perished. The children themselves managed the project, no child was more than 12-years old. Buttons were sent in from the local Wellington community, from across New Zealand and even from overseas. Many buttons came with personal stories and photographs.

The project evolved into a story of collective remembrance — a memorial.

The majority of the buttons will be contained in a truly unique design and installation by Matthijs Siljee of Massey University’s School of Design; the design includes a series of cascading metallic cabinets containing the buttons.

Strong education focus

The memorial has a strong education focus including an interactive educational section — especially relevant for school children — and a reflective reading space with a selection of books from the National Library’s Services to Schools national collections.

The books have been carefully chosen to reflect the experiences and voices of young people during the Holocaust and to promote the power of reading for understanding through children’s and youth literature.

The Holocaust in Services to School's Topic Explorer tool also has curated online resources for students.

The focus of the memorial is to teach:

  • what the Holocaust was
  • how children were affected by the Holocaust
  • the importance of being an 'Upstander, not a bystander' when you witness bullying, harassment and discrimination.

Guided tours

If you would like to organise a school visit or a special guided tour email Chris Harris, National Director of the Holocaust Centre of New Zealand at

Holocaust Centre of New Zealand website

Talks and presentations

As part of the memorial, we will hold a series of presentations and panel discussions on broader social and human rights issues, including:

  • the refugee experience in NZ
  • disability rights
  • a panel discussion about practical things you can do when you are faced with discrimination and prejudice.
Photo of a child next to a button.