Eleven Holocaust survivors, a 101-year-old war veteran and the chairman of the Association of Jewish Refugees are among the community’s leading lights represented on this year’s New Year’s Honours List.
As the honours system marks its 100th year, Holocaust educators paid tribute to the “tireless dedication” of survivors who’ve been recognised for their educational work.
Among those recognised are Chaim Olmer, who is made a Medallist of the Order of the British Empire. The Mill Hill resident, 90, is recognised alongside fellow survivors Harry Bibring, 93, Harry Spiro, 88, Josef Perl, 87, Freda Wineman, 94, Leslie Kleinman, 88, and Janine Webber, 85.
Awarded MBEs (Members of the Order of the British Empire) for their services to Holocaust Education are survivors Bernd Koschland, 86, Joan Salter, 77, Dr Martin Adam Stern 79, and Hannah Lewis, 80.
Reflecting on the recognition survivors have received this year, Karen Pollock MBE, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said: “We have been arranging for Holocaust survivors to deliver their testimony in schools for almost 30 years – and we are immensely proud to see several of them honoured by the Queen – as they so rightly deserve.
“Their tireless dedication to tell their story, reliving their most horrific moments, in order to educate the next generation, is extraordinary. A huge Mazel Tov to all recipients – the survivors are at the heart of all we do and they are all our heroes.”
Olivia Marks-Woldman, Chief Executive of Holocaust Memorial Day Trust said: “These honours recognise the significant time and effort these survivors and educators have spent furthering understanding of the Holocaust and genocide. Their tireless work has inspired thousands of people across the country on Holocaust Memorial Day and throughout the year.”
“Honours are a mark of respect for survivors and educators, and this national recognition of their hard work and dedication is of great importance.”
Each survivor has been telling their personal story for years to help educate younger generations.
For the last two decades Chaim ‘Harry’ Olmer has shared his experience of being prisoner at Buchenwald, Schleiben and Theresienstadt camps, before successfully restarting his life in Britain.
Josef Perl, 87, survived seven Nazi camps, and has received more than 30,000 letters from children who have heard him speak about his experience. Harry Bibring, 93, arrived in Britain at the start of the war with the Kindertransport, while his his mother was killed at Sobibór.
Harry Spiro, 88, was the only member of his family to survive the Shoah, being imprisoned at Buchenwald and liberated at Theresienstadt. Freda Wineman, 94, survived four camps including Auschwitz-Birkenau. Now living in the UK, she regularly speaks to students, and her story featured on Blue Peter.
Leslie Kleinman, 88, survived Auschwitz, Flossenbürg and Sachsenhausen camps, before coming to the UK as one of ‘the boys’, which comprised 732 refugees from the Nazis after the Holocaust. Janine Webber, 85, survived the Holocaust by hiding in Poland, using false papers and working undercover.
Bernd Koschland, 86, came to the UK with the Kindertransport in 1939, after his father was deported to Dachau on Kristalnacht. Joan Salter, 77, escaped Vichy France via Spain and Portugal, eventually arriving in America, before moving to the UK in 1947.
Dr Martin Stern, 79, was only a child at the outbreak of war, but managed to survive both Westerbork and Theresienstadt camps. Hannah Lewis, 80, survived the war in a labour camp by the village of Adampol, moving to the UK in 1949.
Among the 1,123 people honoured in this year’s gongs include Lt Col. Mordaunt Cohen, the most senior Jewish officer who served in World War II still alive. Cohen joined the British Army after hearing the horrors of Nazi Germany from children who had arrived on the Kindertransport, and fought in Burma from 1942 to 1945.
A former chairman of the Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women (AJEX), Cohen was awarded an honorary fellowship by the University of Sunderland in November, in recognition of his 48-year association with it.
He receives an MBE for his services to Second World War education. The centenarian told Jewish News: “I am deeply humbled and honoured to receive this award.”
“When I was commanding troops many miles from here, in very tough conditions, never did I even imagine that aged 101, I would receive such an honour.”
“As the years go by, there are less of us around to tell our story. I look forward to continuing to educate as many people as possible in the years ahead, health permitting. It is my mission to make sure that future generations will understand what our armed forces went through, so that we can all live freely and in peace in this country. As a British Jewish veteran, I’m especially proud of the immense contribution made by the 60,000 Jewish soldiers who served our country in World War Two.
“I would like to dedicate this award to the soldiers who didn’t come home and who sadly paid the ultimate sacrifice.”
Also recognised for work in the field of Holocaust education is chairman of the Association of Jewish Refugees (AJR), Andrew Kaufman, 71.
The former solicitor has been praised for helping turn AJR into a key benefactor of Holocaust education, providing social welfare and helping set up the ‘Refugee Voices’ testimony, of 225 interviews for educational purposes.
He said: “As the son of two refugees who fled Nazi oppression and rebuilt their lives in Britain, I feel hugely honoured and enormously proud to have been nominated and to accept this wonderful award, which I shall deeply treasure, on behalf of everyone at the AJR.”
Leading the congratulations were two AJR trustees, Eleanor Angel and David Rothenberg, who said: “We are thrilled and excited for Andrew who deserves our huge thanks and many congratulations on his richly-deserved nomination in recognition of his years of tireless service and dedication to the culture and welfare of the Refugee community.”
Other members of the community honoured include Councillor Morris Bright, the leader of Hertsmere Borough Council, who is awarded an MBE for services to local Government, as well as Adrian Jacobs, a Volunteer Liaison for the Metropolitan Police. He has been recognised for services to interfaith relations and the community in Barnet.
Speaking to Jewish News, Adrian said it is: “A real honour both for me personally and the community in general. It reflects the excellent working relationship we have built up over the years between the Metropolitan Police and the Jewish community in Barnet”.
Moira Newton and Leonie Lewis have been recognised for services to the Jewish community in north London with an MBE. Leonie is currently the director of the Jewish Volunteering Network, a key community organisation that works alongside hundreds of other charities to encourage more Jewish participation in voluntary work.
Lilian Hochhauser has been handed a CBE for services to the arts and cultural relations. For the past 60 years, in partnership with her husband Victor Hochhauser CBE, Lilian has been responsible for presenting major artists from the world of classical music, ballet and opera, including Yehudi Menuhin,Pierre Boulez, Daniel Barenboim and many others.
OBEs were also awarded to Judith Sebba, for services to Higher Education and to Disadvantaged Young People, Richard Mintz, for services to Philanthropy, Lynne Franks, for services to Business, Fashion and Women’s Empowerment, Dana Pressman Tobak for services to the Digital Economy and Alexandra Shulman for services to Fashion Journalism. MBEs were received by Shimon Fhima, for services to Taxpayers,, Paul Berman, for services to Children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, Jeffrey Scorah, for services to Defence.