Newly-knighted Holocaust survivor Sir Ben Helfgott has said it is “an honour” to have been sculpted by a Leeds-born artist as part of a series.
The Polish-born former champion weightlifter was sculpted in London on Thursday by Frances Segelman, at an event organised by Yad Vashem UK Foundation, after earlier receiving news that he would be included in the Queen’s birthday honours for his work on Holocaust education.
He said: “It is an honour to have a sculpture made of me… I hope it will be made use of to tell my story and as a memorial to those that were murdered in the Holocaust.”
Segelman, who is sculpting several Holocaust survivors around Britain, said: “I’m thrilled to be sculpting the legendary Ben Helfgott… It is such an honour to sculpt these extraordinary people in commemoration of those who perished and in recognition of those who survived.”
Helfgott, who is honorary president of the Yad Vashem UK Foundation, and his family were herded into the Nazis’ first ghetto set up by Nazi-occupied Poland, in Piotrkow, and only avoided being sent to Treblinka by pretending that he not Jewish but ethnically Polish, with the help of his Polish friend.
In the UK he became a clothing manufacturer and a prominent member of the Jewish community, helping to form ‘Holocaust Survivors the 45 Aid Society,’ serving on the Board of Deputies and acting as a trustee of the Holocaust Education Trust for 30 years.
Last week he said he was “choked” after receiving news that he would be knighted.