In 1945, the British government agreed to take in 1,000 orphaned child survivors of the Nazi concentration camps.
In fact, only 732 orphans were taken in, from across Europe. Known collectively as “The Boys” (though their number included 80 girls), they were sent to hostels in the Lake District and Scotland, which were specifically set up to aid their rehabilitation and recovery.
Now, more than 70 years on, the orphans’ children have begun going into schools to tell the story of The Boys’ journey from European refugees to British citizens.
The Boys’ descendants, collectively known as the ’45 Society, have been trained to recount their relatives’ stories for school assemblies, year-group sessions and history lessons.
They will tell the stories of individual orphans, many of whom lived not only through the concentration camps and the loss of their families, but also through death marches.
'Still rife today'
Sue Bermange, head of education for the ’45 Society and daughter of one of The Boys, said: “Our speakers bring to life the unspeakable horrors that their parents survived, in order to teach the lessons of the Holocaust to the next generations, and ensure it never happens again.
“These talks bring to life the personal experiences of the survivors, revealing how their families were affected by the Holocaust, and illustrating the consequences of bullying, racism and discrimination – sadly all issues that are still rife today.”
Today, only a small number of the original Boys remain, living in the UK, Israel and the US. This year, they celebrated their 72nd reunion in London.
And their children hope to secure their legacy by training their own children – the orphans’ grandchildren – to deliver educational talks about their families’ history as well.
The ’45 Society are offering talks to schools across London and the home counties.
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