More than 5,000 people have signed a petition calling for the removal of the names of former German SS officers during World War Two, from New Zealand ski resorts and restaurants.
On Mount Hutt on South Island near Christchurch, the ski run is named after former Nazi officer Willi Huber, who was instrumental in building the ski resort.
According to the German public broadcaster German Wave, the petition requesting the withdrawal of the names of Waffen-SS members met the target two weeks ago.
Huber died in New Zealand at the age of 98 in August, after living in the country for more than 60 years.
He volunteered for the military branch of the Nazi Party at the age of 17, where he served as a machine gunner and later as a gunner on a Panzer tank.
In 1953, he arrived in the Pacific country from Austria, and later met and married a local woman.
Huber’s work creating ski runs brought him back to his memory on the mountain, with a plaque commemorating his work also being part of the resort.
However, his life before New Zealand was widely criticized by the President of the Zionist Federation of New Zealand who created it change.org the petition to “abolish the ‘honor’ inheritance” Huber.
“This is not a legacy to be proud of and is an insult to everyone who was killed by the Nazis or who died fighting the Nazis,” the petition read.
“We demanded that Mount Hutt Ski Area remove a placard in honor of the unrepentant Nazi, who in a 2017 TVNZ interview said, ‘I gave it to Hitler, he’s very smart’ and admitted that he volunteered to serve in the SS.
“The Nazis shouldn’t remember their legacy.”
Despite the signature, Mount Hutt Ski Area manager James McKenzie told the news site Goods that Huber’s name will remain on the mountain unless evidence of war crimes emerges.
It was also reported that ski resort owner Berg and members of the Jewish Council of New Zealand and the New Zealand Holocaust Center met to discuss the petition.
“At this stage, NZSki is not ready to accept that Willi Huber is a war criminal associated with the Waffen-SS,” McKenzie told Goods.
McKenzie also said the company was seeking “independent expert advice” to determine whether Huber was responsible for his crimes while on the Waffen-SS.
The Waffen-SS was judged as a criminal organization during the Nuremberg Trials after the Second World War.
Mount Hutt and the ski runs have also played host to several International Ski Federation (FIS) Ski World Cup events in the past.
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