Hitler concert angers NZ's Jews

Event marking birthday of Nazi dictator offensive but not illegal, say police.

hitler 298.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
hitler 298.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
A rock concert commemorating Adolf Hitler's birthday held in New Zealand's capital has angered Jews and anti-racist groups, Jewish community members told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday. The concert, which took place Friday night in Wellington, was organized by local skinheads belonging to the international Hammerskins gang and neo-Nazi organization Blood and Honor - a group banned in several European countries. An Australian "Viking rock" band was featured at the event held at an undisclosed location, the capital's Dominion Post reported. The event had previously been scheduled to take place at a local motorcycle gang's headquarters but was later moved for an unknown reason. New Zealand police, who were aware of the concert, said it was not illegal. "Mercifully, there aren't many people in New Zealand happy to celebrate Hitler's birthday. I don't think it's going to be a very big party," Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres told The Dominion Post prior to the event. Wellington's Jewish community was disgusted that an event marking Hitler's April 20 birthday had taken place in New Zealand, where anti-Semitic incidents are rare. New Zealand suffered its worst anti-Semitic attack when a Jewish cemetery in Makara, just outside of Wellington, was desecrated in 2004. Ninety-five headstones were knocked over and swastikas were etched into a prayer room's walls. No one took responsibility for the attack. Jewish community leader and Israeli honorary consul David Zwartz said the concert was "distasteful and offensive," The Dominion Post reported. Another member of Wellington's Jewish community told The Jerusalem Post that Jews "didn't want an article [regarding the event] to be published in New Zealand," fearing that such publicity would attract "new recruits" to Neo-Nazi groups. Young people who otherwise may not have known of their existence might read the article and think, "Here's a group that I can align myself with," the community member said.•