Over 5,000 people have signed a petition to remove the name of Willi Huber, a former German SS officer during the Second World War, from a New Zealand ski run and restaurant.
As reported by German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle, a petition to remove the name of Willi Huber, once a member of the Waffen-SS, from Mt Hutt met its target of 5,000 signatures on Friday.
Huber, who died in New Zealand at the age of 98 in early August had volunteered for the military branch of the Nazi party at the age of 17, where he served as a machine-gunner and then as a gunner in Panzer tanks.
Huber arrived in New Zealand from Austria in 1953, and met and married a local woman.
He is known for helping to establish the South Island ski field Mt Hutt, where a ski trail and alpine restaurant are named after him. He was additionally recognised with a plaque to commemorate his work on the mountain.
The change.org petition to “remove the ‘honouring’ legacy” of Huber was started by Rob Berg, President of the Zionist Federation of New Zealand.
In the online petition he writes “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.”
The petition also calls for the removal of Huber’s commemorative plaque on the mountain.
It continues “we demand that Mt Hutt Ski Area removes the plaque honoring an unrepentant Nazi, who in a 2017 TVNZ interview said, “I give it to Hitler, he was very clever” and admitted he volunteered to serve in the SS.
“Nazis should not have their legacy remembered.”
Despite the signatures, Mt Hutt Ski Area Manager James McKenzie told news website Stuff that the names of the Huber’s Hut restaurant and Huber’s Run would remain the same unless evidence of war crimes emerged.
Stuff reported that the owners of the ski area, along with Berg and members of the New Zealand Jewish Council and Holocaust Centre of New Zealand met last week to discuss the petition.
McKenzie went on to tell Stuff, “at this stage, NZSki is not prepared to accept that Willi Huber is a war criminal by association to the Waffen-SS,” adding that the company is seeking “independent expert advice” to determine whether Huber was responsible for criminal acts while serving in the Waffen SS.
As reported by Deutsche Welle, the Waffen-SS was involved in the Holocaust by participating in mass shootings, anti-partisan warfare and providing guards for concentration camps. The organisation was officially declared a criminal organization during the post-war Nuremberg Trials.
Click here to view the petition.
Images: Mt Hutt (top) and Willi Huber as he appeared in TVNZ’s Sunday Programme in 2017 (below, courtesy of TVNZ).
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