Petition against honoring former SS officer gains over 4,300 signatures

Willi Huber has been honored as a founding father of the Mount Hutt ski field in New Zealand, to the dismay of many.

Mt Hutt, New Zealand (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Mt Hutt, New Zealand
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
A petition to remove a legacy from a New Zealand skiing field honoring a former SS officer has received more than 4,300 signatures.
Willi Huber died in August at the age of 98 in New Zealand, the country where he made his home in the 1950s following the war. A native of Austria, he volunteered to serve in the Waffen-SS at age 17, rising to become a decorated officer.
In his new life in New Zealand, he helped found the Mt. Hutt ski area in Canterbury, spending a winter living alone in a hut he built at 2,000 meters (6,560 feet) while he mapped out ski runs and the route for an access road before installing the infrastructure, online magazine Stuff reported. A lasting legacy remains to him in the form of a plaque and a ski run named after him.
However, Huber is a controversial figure in New Zealand, as he appeared during his lifetime to be unrepentant for his role in the war. 
A 2017 report on a Sunday news program broadcast by TVNZ showed a smiling Huber recalling the time he met Hitler when Huber was nine years old. “Can you imagine?” he mused, chuckling. “I give it to Hitler, he was very clever. He brought Austria out of the dump.” Reflecting on Austria's economic status after World War I, he added that Hitler had "offered a way out" for the Austrian people.
When quizzed by the host of program about the concentration camps, he agreed that the SS “were wrong but that is about all," adding, "what could we do?”
The petition's authors wrote: "This is not a "legacy" to be proud of and is an insult to all those murdered by the Nazis or who died fighting the Nazis. How lucky Mr. Huber was to be able to make a "new start" – something that was not afforded to the victims murdered by the SS.
"We demand that Mt. Hutt Ski Area removes the plaque honoring an unrepentant Nazi, who in a 2017 NZ TV interview said, "I give it to Hitler, he was very clever" and admitted he volunteered to serve in the SS.
"We also demand Mt. Hutt Sky Area rename the ski slope named after SS Officer Huber.
"Nazis should not have their "legacy" remembered."
Mt. Hutt Ski Area manager James McKenzie told Stuff that Huber had had “significant” involvement in the ski area’s founding, and therefore deserved to be acknowledged. “We recognize him as an important figure in our history,” he said. ”We understand the views of people who have signed the petition. However, we cannot change the fact Willi Huber was integral to the inception of Mt Hutt.”
Nevertheless, the petition has garnered the support of more than 4,300 people within three weeks.
Ruth Gluckman, from Auckland, signed, commenting: "I’m disgusted the NZ government allowed this Nazi sanctuary after the war when so many refugees were turned away. This man voluntarily joined the Nazi Party and fought for their abhorrent ideology. He has no place being immortalized in NZ."
Fellow signatory Gael Price from Wellington suggested: "Rename the ski route to honor a local refugee from the Holocaust instead."