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Resilience: A Story of Persecution, Escape, Survival and Triumph

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Inge Woolf
April 2023
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Resilience is a Holocaust story and a New Zealand story. Born to a prosperous Jewish family, Inge Woolf witnessed the Nazis marching into Vienna in March 1938. To escape certain death, the family audaciously boarded a train to the heart of Nazi Germany – Berlin – and from there caught a plane to England, pretending they were going on holiday. Hiding their Jewish identity until after World War II, Inge and her family began a new life as impoverished refugees. A move to New Zealand signalled new beginnings. Inge met the love of her life, Ronald Woolf, and together they created the country's pre-eminent photographic studio. They settled in Wellington, raising two children when tragedy struck again with Ron killed at age 57 in a helicopter crash in 1987. Resilience is ultimately the story of a woman who harnessed her past and used it to encourage a more cohesive, inclusive society. In her later years, Inge was pivotal in establishing the Holocaust Centre of New Zealand and was its founding director. She educated thousands on the Holocaust and the dangers of antisemitism, racism and prejudice, often observing that hate starts small. She was often called on by the media to comment about antisemitism and would speak freely about the need to remember the lessons learned from the Nazi genocide. Inge Woolf received a QSO in 1992 for services to the community. She was a finalist in the 2019 Women of Influence Awards – Community Hero category. Inge Woolf died in 2021 aged 86.