British heroes of the Holocaust honoured
The first ever recognition of Britons who saved the lives of Jews and other persecuted groups during the Holocaust will be bestowed by the Prime Minister
Tuesday, 09, Mar 2010 03:45
By Sarah Garrod.
The first ever recognition of Britons who saved the lives of Jews and other persecuted groups during the Holocaust will be bestowed by the Prime Minister.
The awards are the first to recognise the acts of civilians who showed extraordinary acts of courage during the Holocaust in order to help their fellow man.
Having been announced last year by Prime Minister Gordon Brown on a visit to Auschwitz, the awards will be bestowed upon 27 individuals, all but two posthumously, with the living pair receiving their award in person at Downing Street.
Mr Brown said: "It is right that we reflect and learn from the past as we go forward in the future. That is why I was pleased to create a new award to recognise those amazing British individuals who through extraordinary and selfless acts of bravery protected and rescued Jews and others in the Holocaust.
"These individuals are true British heroes and a source of national pride for all of us. They were shining beacons of hope in the midst of terrible evil because they were prepared to take a stand against prejudice, hatred and intolerance. We pay tribute to them for the inspiration they provide now and for future generations to come."
The award, a silver medallion inscribed with the words 'In the Service of Humanity' will be presented in person to Sir Nicholas Winton, 100 and Denis Avey, 91.
Others whose work was remembered included June Ravenhall, a British housewife living in Holland who sheltered a young Jewish man even after her husband had been taken to a concentration camp and Jane Haining from Dunscore in Scotland - who was sent to Auschwitz after caring for 400 Jewish girls in occupied Hungary.
Bertha Bracey, a Quaker woman, lobbied the British government during the 1930s to accept persecuted Jewish refugees, and her efforts established the Kindertransport which took an estimated 10,000 mainly Jewish children from mainland Europe to Britain.
Minister for Cohesion and Faith Shahid Malik said: "The profound hurt, terror and destruction inflicted on fellow human beings during the Holocaust is a lesson of yesterday, that is sadly still relevant today. The sheer horror of the Holocaust must serve as a reminder about the depths to which human beings can fall.
"This award is a true opportunity to continue to celebrate the values of our country through the experiences of people who at times put the lives of their family in danger and even sacrificed their own in order to help others."
Those remembered in the awards list are:
Sir Nicholas Winton - Maidenhead - organised the rescue of 669 mainly Jewish children by train from Prague in 1939.
Denis Avey - Derbyshire - a former prisoner of war who helped German Jewish inmate, Ernst Lobethall, to survive Auschwitz.
Sister Agnes Walsh - from Hull, she sheltered a family from December 1943 in her convent in Cadouin, Dordogne.
Albert Bedane - a physiotherapist in Jersey, who sheltered escaped French POW and Russian slave labourers and also a Dutch Jewish woman. Albert hid them in the cellar while he treated Nazi soldiers in his clinic in the room above.
Ida and Louise Cook - London - two sisters who as opera devotees, travelled to Europe for musical recitals before the outbreak of war. They took with them British visas they had worked hard to secure for Jews needing to escape Nazi occupied Germany. On their return journey, they smuggled jewels, furs and valuables back to England on behalf of the families. Ida wrote many titles for Mills and Boon, which partly funded their missions to rescue 29 people.
Sergeant Charles Coward - Edmonton - as a POW in Auschwitz, he was appointed Red Cross liaison for 1400 British POWs. He used this position to smuggle food and contraband to Jewish inmates and smuggled himself into the Jewish camp, in order to confirm the horrific conditions there.
Major Frank Foley - Somerset - working as a spy in the British embassy in Berlin, Frank risked his life by issuing false visa to desperate Jews. He is well documented for saving 10,000 people.
Jane Haining - Dunscore, Scotland - Jane had worked as school matron at a Jewish orphanage in Budapest. When war broke out, she was in England and immediately returned to look after her girls. She was arrested in April 1944 and eventually sent to Auschwitz where she died.
June Ravenhall - Warwickshire - June was a British housewife living in Holland with her husband and three children. When war broke out, her husband Les was taken to a prison camp and never seen again. June agreed to shelter a young Jew called Louis Velleman for a long period of time, even though she knew his discovery would mean almost certain death.
Sofka Skipwith - Cornwall - Sofka was born into Russian aristocracy but arrived in Britain after the revolution. She was arrested in November 1940 after protesting at an anti-Nazi rally and was interned. She saved a newborn baby by smuggling him to the Red Cross and enabled many people to escape by using the contacts she built up.
Princess Alice of Greece - England - Princess Alice was mother to the Duke of Edinburgh. She worked to organise shelters for orphan children and sheltered three Jewish women when Greece was occupied.
Bertha Bracey - England - a Quaker who worked tirelessly to lobby the British government about the plight of the Jews in Germany. She was instrumental is setting up the Kindertransport which brought 10,000 mainly Jewish children to England from mainland Europe.
Louisa Gould, Ivy Forester, Harold le Druillenec - Jersey - these were two sisters and a brother. Louisa and Ivy sheltered two Russian POWs while Harold taught them English. All three were arrested and Louisa was sent to Ravensbrueck camp where she perished. Harold was the last surviving British citizen at Belsen.
Henk Huffener - Guildford - Henk took British citizenship in 1950 when he moved to England. Up until then he had lived in Holland where he worked hard to smuggle Jews out of the country to Switzerland and Spain.
Stan Wells, Alan Edwards, George Hammond, Roger Letchford, Tommy Noble, John Buckley, Bill Scruton, Bert Hambling, Bill Keeble, Willy Fisher - 10 British POWs who saved the life of 15 year old Jewish girl Hannah Sara Rigler who escaped the death march outside Danzig, while her mother and sister perished. Sara is still alive and lives in New York.