The Boys are back in town! Celebrities and politicians join Holocaust survivors at reunion
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The Boys are back in town! Celebrities and politicians join Holocaust survivors at reunion

Ed Balls, Sir Eric Pickles and celebrity judge Robert Rinder, joined 19 of 'The Boys' for the 45 Aid Society's annual get-together

Group shot of survivors at The Boys annual reunion 

Photo credit: John Rifkin
Group shot of survivors at The Boys annual reunion Photo credit: John Rifkin

Senior politicians, celebrities and Holocaust survivors gathered on Monday evening at the annual reunion dinner of the Jewish survivor group ‘The Boys’.

The celebration at the Hilton Hotel in Wembley reunited 18 of the surviving Jewish orphans rescued from countries like Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary in an operation which saw 732 children, mostly boys, brought to the UK in 1945.

The group later formed the 45 Aid Society, to raise money for survivors and teach the lessons of the Holocaust.

Addressing the audience, which included hundreds of second and third-generation family members, Angela Cohen, Chair of the ’45 Aid Society, expressed her delight at the reunion but also offered a sobering insight into present day anti-Semitism.

“It is a frightening reality that in 2018, 70 years after the formation of the state of Israel and 74 years after the liberation of the Boys, our political leaders need reminding that mentioning Zionism and Nazism in the same breath is both wicked and dangerous.

“To lie about history for political end goes hand in hand with Holocaust denial,” she said.

The evening included Judge Robert Rinder, grandson of one of ‘The Boys’ Moishe Malenicky, in conversation with two Holocaust survivors, Zigi Shipper and Lili Pohlman.

Holocaust survivor Ben Helfgott with new co-chairs of the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation, Sir Eric Pickles (left) and Ed Balls (right)
Photo: John Rifkin

The celebrity TV personality also interviewed former Education Secretary, Ed Balls, about his new co-chairmanship of the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation.

Mr Balls said: “Eric Pickles and I are acutely aware of our huge responsibilities as chairs of the Foundation. For the survivors, the next generation, our country and the world we must make this something which Britain can be proud of. We must put party politics aside and say firmly, never again.

“The courage, strength and resilience of the Jewish people is a remarkable story. It is very important that this story is understood and shared broadly right across society.”

Speaking to The Jewish News, Judge Rinder, added: “This is an incredibly important group of people who are my family and by extension all of our family. To meet a survivor is to be forever changed, for they teach us how important family really is.

“They also remind us that hate never triumphs and what tyranny really looks like. It is an incredible benefit and responsibility to know them. Their existence is the most important antiseptic available for it completely and utterly deadens any species of Holocaust denial.”

Sir Eric Pickles and Ed Balls dancing during the 45 Aid Society dinner
Photo credit: John Rifkin
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