Polish survivors of the Holocaust have today been given Freedom of the City of London.
Ben Helfgott, of Harrow, and Sabina Miller, of West Hampstead, received the honour at a ceremony held at The Mansion House, London.
Mr Helfgott, who spent his early years in Piotrkow, was taken with his father to Buchenwald and later sent – without his father - to a concentration camp in Schlieben, where anti-tank weapons were produced, and then to Theresienstadt.
After he was liberated three weeks later, Mr Helfgott found out that his father had been shot a few days before the end of the war as he made a bid to escape from a death march.
He said: “I am extremely grateful to the City of London Corporation, the City Bridge Trust and the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust for arranging for us to be granted the honour of the Freedom of the City of London.
“We accept it on behalf of all Holocaust survivors in the UK, who strive to keep alive the memory of those who perished, and to ensure that the lessons of the Holocaust are learnt in order to avoid such a tragedy ever happening again.”
The awards, given in recognition of their work with the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, were given one week before Holocaust Memorial Day on January 27 - which will mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp.
Jeremy Mayhew, chairman of the City of London Corporation’s charity City Bridge Trust, said: “I am delighted that Ben and Sabina accepted our invitation to receive the Freedom of the City of London. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude for their work in keeping alive the memory of the persecution that they, and so many others, suffered during World War Two.
“After more than seven decades, it must still be deeply painful for them to tell their stories and relive their experiences and yet, they do so in order to educate people about the corrosive effects of prejudice and the unspeakable horrors committed during conflict.”