Day to remember soldiers
ANZAC Day is about remembering fallen soldiers on either side of the battle lines for Westmere’s Sam Meyerhoff.
His Jewish great-grandfather Theodor Meyerhoff fought for the Germans in World War I but became a target during the second ‘‘war to end all wars’’.
On November 9, 1938 – known as Kristallnacht or the night of broken glass – Nazi soldiers ransacked property owned by Jewish citizens, with many killed and thousands taken to concentration camps.
Theodor Meyerhoff owned a canning business and regularly travelled across Germany for his work.
On Kristallnacht he rang his wife before he boarded his train to say he would be home soon. She told him stay on the train until the raids were over.
That saved his 13, says.
In the lead-up to World War II, Theodor Meyerhoff believed his service in the German army would keep him safe. But when the Nazi threat and World War II
life, Sam, loomed he and his wife fled to the United States, leaving almost everything behind.
‘‘When you’ve got a person like Theodor, I don’t celebrate Anzac just for New Zealand soldiers. I celebrate for all soldiers. I remember for all cultures,’’ Sam says.
Sam was born in the US, grew up in Scotland and moved to multicultural Auckland in 2010.
His mum Miriam baked Anzac cookies for him while they lived in Scotland so he has always known the day’s significance, Sam says.
Sam never knew his grandfather – Theodor Meyerhoff’s son – and the family heirlooms can be counted on just one hand.
A photo of Theodor Meyerhoff and his Iron Cross from military service mean a lot to Sam.
‘‘Keeping heirlooms means I know him. Little stuff like that keeps me connected.’’
Survival story: Sam Meyerhoff, 13, with a photo of his greatgrandfather Theodor Meyerhoff.