Duchess of Cambridge photographs Holocaust survivors to mark anniversary of liberation of Auschwitz


Both came face to face with evil as children, lost loved ones and now want to ensure the truth is never forgotten.

Steven Frank, 84, was among only a handful of children to make it out alive from the last of the many concentration camps he was sent to. 

By then his father had been gassed to death for speaking out against the Nazis.

Steven Frank, 84, with his two granddaughters Maggie, 15, and Trixie 13, was photographed holding a pan his mother used as a boy

Steven Frank, 84, with his two granddaughters Maggie, 15, and Trixie 13, was photographed holding a pan his mother used as a boy

Mr Frank was among only a handful of children (pictured centre) to make it out alive from the last of the concentration camps he was sent to. By then his father (right) had been gassed to death for speaking out against the Nazis

Mr Frank was among only a handful of children (pictured centre) to make it out alive from the last of the concentration camps he was sent to. By then his father (right) had been gassed to death for speaking out against the Nazis

Yvonne Bernstein, 82, was hidden as a child in France throughout most of the Second World War and her uncle was seized and murdered for shielding her.

To mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, Mr Frank and Mrs Bernstein, who both settled in Britain after the war, have been photographed by the Duchess of Cambridge in moving family portraits for a new exhibition.

Kate, who is patron of the Royal Photographic Society, said ‘despite unbelievable trauma at the start of their lives’ they were ‘two of the most life-affirming people that I have had the privilege to meet’.

Memories: Yvonne Bernstein, 82, pictured alongside her 11-year-old granddaughter Chloe, also survived the Nazi Holocaust

Memories: Yvonne Bernstein, 82, pictured alongside her 11-year-old granddaughter Chloe, also survived the Nazi Holocaust

Mrs Bernstein was hidden as a child (pictured) in France throughout most of the Second World War and her uncle was seized and murdered for shielding her

Mrs Bernstein was hidden as a child (pictured) in France throughout most of the Second World War and her uncle was seized and murdered for shielding her

She added: ‘They look back on their experiences with sadness but also with gratitude that they were some of the lucky few to make it through. 

Their stories will stay with me forever.’

The photographs are reminiscent of the works of Johannes Vermeer, whose 17th century Dutch paintings Kate enjoyed during a trip to The Hague in 2016.

The Duchess of Cambridge (pictured), who is a patron of the Royal Photographic Society, took the photographs which were released to mark Holocaust Memorial Day and will be part of an exhibition later this year

The Duchess of Cambridge (pictured), who is a patron of the Royal Photographic Society, took the photographs which were released to mark Holocaust Memorial Day and will be part of an exhibition later this year

They were released to mark Holocaust Memorial Day today and will be part of an exhibition later this year. 

German-born Mrs Bernstein was separated from her parents throughout the war and arrived in Britain in June 1945.

Mr Frank, who came from Amsterdam, survived near starvation at Theresienstadt in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia.

He has kept his mother’s pan from their days in the concentration camps.   

The world’s eyes are on Auschwitz … but the UK Government will not send a single minister to the memorial event 

By Robert Hardman for The Daily Mail

Presidents and monarchs are gathering at Auschwitz today but the British Government seems unable to send a single minister.

The presidents of Germany and Israel will be among the heads of state and government leaders. 

The United Kingdom will be represented by the Duchess of Cornwall while the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are set to attend memorial events in London.

There was surprise among members of Britain’s Jewish community last night, however, when it emerged that there would be no minister from the Government.

Presidents and monarchs are gathering at Auschwitz today but the British Government seems unable to send a single minister. Pictured: Entrance to the former Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau

Presidents and monarchs are gathering at Auschwitz today but the British Government seems unable to send a single minister. Pictured: Entrance to the former Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau

‘It does seem rather odd that they cannot find a single one to go,’ said Jerry Lewis, former vice-president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

The Netherlands is sending its prime minister, Mark Rutte, as well as its king and queen, and Ireland is despatching its president.

The King and Queen of Spain will also be among the guests. 

Neither Downing Street nor the Foreign Office nor the Cabinet Office was able to offer an explanation, although it is now understood that the Government’s Holocaust envoy, Lord Pickles, will be in attendance.

The British Government will be well represented at events in London and it will also announce today that it is making a £1million donation to the Auchwitz-Birkenau Foundation.

Neither Downing Street nor the Foreign Office nor the Cabinet Office was able to offer an explanation, although it is now understood that the Government's Holocaust envoy, Lord Pickles (pictured), will be in attendance

Neither Downing Street nor the Foreign Office nor the Cabinet Office was able to offer an explanation, although it is now understood that the Government’s Holocaust envoy, Lord Pickles (pictured), will be in attendance 

The only VIPs on most minds here this week are the survivors. 

Some of them paid a private visit to Auschwitz yesterday with the World Jewish Congress.

They were nearly all children when they first arrived here. 

And now, 75 years later, they are returning – some for the very first time – as the last witnesses to its horror. 

All concede it was nothing short of miraculous that they ever got out alive, for it was usually the children who were among the first to be despatched to the gas chambers when the cattle trucks unloaded their human cargo at Auschwitz.

However, a few would survive through a combination of sheer luck, chaos, the kindness of others and immense strength of character. 

It was 75 years ago today that Soviet troops liberated Auschwitz, the date the world now recognises as Holocaust Memorial Day.

It is a day to commemorate all the evils perpetrated at more than 300 Nazi concentration camps over several years. 

None was on the scale of Auschwitz, however, where the Germans murdered more than a million people – most of them Jewish – which is why the eyes of the world are on Poland today.

Tova Friedman, 81, was just five when she arrived at Auschwitz with her mother. ‘I suppose I was saved by Christianity,’ she told me yesterday. 

‘Most children were murdered as soon as they arrived but it happened to be a Sunday and the Germans didn’t want to open up another gas chamber for our transport so I was able to stay with my mother, had my hair shaved and was tattooed.’

She remembers life hanging by the most slender of threads. 

On one occasion, she was sent to the gas chambers and forced to undress only to be sent back again because, by chance, the Germans had sent the wrong set of prisoners for execution that day. 

Her mother, she told me, was her guardian angel: ‘She told me exactly what to do. “Don’t cry”, “Don’t make a noise” and “If you see a dog, stand very still – they are only trained to attack people running away”. I did what I was told.’

As the Nazis were about to abandon the camp and were rounding up the able-bodied, she hid among the corpses in a hospital wing.

She lay still while soldiers shot patients in their beds and remained there until it was safe for her mother to come and find her.

Now she remembers other children who were not so lucky and says: ‘Tell the whole world. Don’t let anyone ever forget.’ 



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