Four generations of Holocaust survivors have recreated an iconic photograph taken in Prague in August 1945.
Six of ‘The Boys’, alongside 250 of their relatives and the descendants of those who have since died, gathered on Sunday morning in front of the Jan Hus memorial in Old Town Square.
One of ‘The Boys’ Sir Ben Helfgott, 89, described feeling “overwhelmed with emotion” as the picture was taken, while among those in the picture was celebrity TV Judge Robert Rinder, whose maternal grandfather was one of ‘The Boys’.
Helfgott’s younger sister, Mala Tribich, who joined Ben for the photograph, said: “I was feeling sad thinking about all the survivors we have lost and what it would have meant for them to experience the reunion.
“But I also feel positive and upbeat,” she added. “Today represented survival: the survival of the next generation and all the generations that have come since.”
Following the Second World War, 732 surviving children were flown from Prague by the RAF to the Lake District to start new lives. They became known as ‘The Boys’, later forming the 45 Aid Society to raise money for survivors and teach the lessons of the Holocaust.
James Gordon, 19, whose grandfather Monty Graham was just 15 in August 1945, said: “Sadly we are probably the last generation who will meet these Holocaust survivors and so it falls onto our shoulders to carry on their stories. We are stood here today to secure their legacy.”
His mother Helen, daughter of Monty, added: “I’ve studied that iconic photo from 1945 ever since I was a child- it’s something I’ve grown up with as part of my heritage. It’s so special to be here and I hope we can spread these stories to ensure the atrocities of the Holocaust are never repeated.”
As well as recreating the iconic photograph, the group experienced a collective Friday night dinner in the Jewish Quarter and visited the Theresienstadt Ghetto, where they partook in a memorial service.
Last Monday, Sajid Javid addressed the 45 Aid Society’s annual reunion dinner and recalled bringing his family to hear the story of one of ‘The Boys’, Harry Spiro.
The 16 survivors in attendance were also reunited with the serviceman who flew many of them to Britain in an RAF Sterling bomber.
This morning I stood alongside the descendants of 732 child survivors of the holocaust in Prague. Tonight I accepted a BAFTA in the country that gifted these refugees safety & life. This is who we are at our best. pic.twitter.com/obJ73O0yFv
— Robert Rinder (@RobbieRinder) May 12, 2019