If you trace Bob’s family name back a few generations, you will understand why their story is so amazing.
Gertrud Narewczewitz and her son Robert, 9, were liberated in 1945 from the Nazi’s Theresienstadt concentration camp in Czechoslovakia.
Two years later, they sailed in a converted troop carrier from Switzerland to Auckland, bringing with them two orphans who they dropped off with adoptive parents in Australia.
Gertrud and Robert changed their name from Narewczewitz to Narev to fit into their new lives in New Zealand, which began on a Howick chicken farm owned by Ernst and Alice Rothschild.
Gertrud eventually learned English and was able to teach piano and voice at St Cuthbert’s College, and to perform herself. Young Robert did very well at Howick District High School, Auckland Grammar, and Auckland University, where he earned degrees in languages and law.
Freda Malacka, long before meeting and marrying “Bob Narev”, was from an Orthodox Jewish family in Widze, Poland, which was almost completely exterminated by the Nazis. Freda, under the name “Fella”, survived by living as a Catholic for three years on a farm. After the war, her older sister, only 18, collected Freda. They lived in Poland and Germany before being sponsored to Auckland in 1949.
Freda went through Bayfield School and Auckland Girls’ Grammar. She became engaged to Bob in 1957 and married him in 1959. Bob worked as a lawyer and was a leader in the Jewish and general community. Freda was for many years active both within the Citizens Advice Bureau and as a marriage counsellor, and in the Jewish community. They have three children – Kim, Rick and Ian.
A few years ago, Freda received a Queen’s Service Medal for service to the community. Bob previously had received a New Zealand Order of Merit for service to the community.
Bob and Freda, if she is feeling up to it, have agreed to speak at the Convention to give first-person accounts of the Holocaust and their lives as survivors, and to thank Kiwis for the compassion and opportunities they were given. Bob and Freda were kind enough to step in when Inge Auerbacher was forced to withdraw as a speaker.