Holocaust survivors and their families from around the world were this week looking forward to the 45 Aid Society meeting in London on Sunday to mark the 70th anniversary of their liberation and arrival into Britain.
Up to 600 people are expected at the event, comprising about 190 families drawn from countries including the UK, the US, Canada and Israel. Among them are some of the original 732 orphans, mainly boys, who – between August 1945 and March 1946 – arrived in Britain, having survived the camps and of the death marches.
“It will be a tremendous event,” said British survivor Ben Helfgott. “There’s not been an evening like this for a long, long time.”
Among the speakers will be Sir Peter Bazelgette, the man chosen by Prime Minister David Cameron to chair the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation, who is better known as the man behind reality TV series Big Brother. He has spoken of an “urgent need” to ensure survivors’ stories are saved to help teach future generations, and has instigated a testimony audit.
For Helfgott, the most important element to Sunday’s event will be the realisation that the second and third generation will continue survivors’ work in education.
“They’re very active now, and proud of it,” he said. “Many have lost their father or mother now, but they’ve shown the survivors that they will not be forgotten, that their children will pass it on to others, and that’s something very special.”