Rishi Sunak embraces 94-year-old Holocaust survivor as Prime Minister vows to build a new memorial remembering victims of the Nazi genocide
- Rishi Sunak honoured Holocaust survivor Arek Hersh at Downing Street today
- PM presented him with a Points of Light Award and vowed to build a memorial
- Holocaust Memorial Bill will remove obstacles that prevented the project
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak embraced a 94-year-old Holocaust survivor today as he vowed to build a new memorial next to Parliament that will honour victims.
Mr Sunak, 42, met with survivor Arek Hersh, 94, at Downing Street to hear his story and present him with a Points of Light Award.
The Prime Minister also declared the Government would take action after campaigners won a legal battle to quash planning permission for the national memorial in Westminster.
The plan to build the centre in Victoria Tower Gardens ran into difficulties over a 1900 law protecting the park land. But Mr Sunak told MPs the Government will legislate to ensure the Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre is built.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak embraced a 94-year-old Holocaust survivor today as he vowed to build a new memorial next to Parliament that will honour victims
Mr Sunak, 42, met with survivor Arek Hersh, 94, at Downing Street to hear his story and present him with a Points of Light Award. The Prime Minister is seen looking through Mr Hersh’s autobiography
Mr Sunak met with Mr Hersh and his wife, Jean, at No 10 today. Photographs show the pair were deep in conversation.
The survivor seemingly presented the Prime Minister with a copy of his autobiography with details how at 11 years old he managed to survive a Nazi concentration camp.
The book further details how the catastrophe, with left him without family, impacted his life.
He also showed the Prime Minister his Holocaust identification number.
Mr Sunak awarded Mr Hersh with the Points of Light Award which recognises outstanding individual volunteers and people who are making a change in their community.
Ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day on Friday, Mr Sunak paid tribute at Prime Minister’s Questions to the ‘extraordinary courage’ of survivors, including Mr Hersh, who was watching proceedings in the Commons.
Mr Sunak awarded Mr Hersh with the Points of Light Award which recognises outstanding individual volunteers and people who are making a change in their community
Mr Sunak met with Mr Hersh and his wife, Jean, at No 10 today. Photographs show the pair were deep in conversation
Mr Hersh also showed the Prime Minister his Holocaust identification number
The survivor seemingly presented the Prime Minister with a copy of his autobiography with details how at 11 years old he managed to survive a Nazi concentration camp
Forgotten heroine of the Holocaust who smuggled 2,500 ghetto children to safety in coffins, suitcases… and even a toolbox: Click here to read more
Irena Sendler was on a mission. She was going to plead with the anguished parents of a six-month-old child. Both parents knew that, sooner or later, they’d be transported to the horrific death camp at Treblinka, where they would be exterminated as part of Hitler’s Final Solution
‘This will legislate to build the Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre next to Parliament so the testimonies of survivors like Arek will be heard at the heart of our democracy by every generation to come,’ he said today.
Planning permission was granted in July 2021 after a public inquiry and the recommendations of planning inspector David Morgan.
But it was challenged in the High Court by the London Historic Parks and Gardens Trust, which argued against building the centre on the small triangular Grade II-listed park to the south of Parliament.
The London County Council (Improvements) Act 1900 required the land to be used as a public park.
The Holocaust Memorial Bill will update the historic legislation, removing the legal obstacle that has prevented the Victoria Tower Gardens project.
Officials said that careful design will mean the centre – which will be free to visitors – enhances the gardens.
Communities Secretary Michael Gove said: ‘We are committed to building the memorial next to Parliament, a site which reflects its national significance and is close to other important memorials including the Cenotaph.
‘We owe it to Holocaust survivors, to the British people and future generations to remember where hatred can lead.’
Holocaust Educational Trust chief executive Karen Pollock said: ‘As the Holocaust fades further into history, and with survivors becoming fewer and frailer, time is of the essence.
‘Located in the heart of our democracy, the UK Holocaust Memorial will send a clear signal for years to come of the place the Holocaust should always have in our national consciousness and the importance of learning its lessons for generations to come.’
Holocaust Surviver Arek Hersh, aged 94 and his wife Jean Hersh arrive to meet Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at 10 Downing Street today
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak writes a message in the Holocaust Education Memorial Trust book after meeting with Mr and Mrs Hersh
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak writes a message in the Holocaust Education Memorial Trust book
Mr Sunak and Mr Hersh are pictured during their meeting today at No 10
Mr Hersh is pictured holding his Points of Light award
The London Historic Parks and Gardens Trust is now known as London Parks and Gardens (LPG).
A LPG spokesman said: ‘It is crucial that the appalling events of the Holocaust must be understood by future generations, and we join with Parliament in observing Holocaust Memorial Day.
‘Our legal challenge never sought to question the need for a fitting Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre, but simply to protect the laws which stop public parks from being built on.
‘It is right that Parliament will decide the best place to fulfil the noble aim of a national memorial.
‘We respectfully urge parliamentarians to fulfil their generational responsibility to ensure Holocaust education in a way which also protects parks as places for everyone to reflect, relax and play.’
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