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A Detail of History Holocaust Survivor

1974. Arek Hersh

Arek Hersh MBE, aged 94, from Leeds, is a Polish-born Holocaust survivor who was aged 11 when he was first taken to a concentration camp, experiencing horrors in multiple camps - including Auschwitz - and surviving a death march before finally being liberated from Theresienstadt in May 1945.

Arek Hersh MBE receiving his Points of Light award from PM Rishi Sunak

Arek came to Britain as one of the “Windermere Boys”, rehabilitating in the Lake District, before settling first in Liverpool and later in Leeds. Arek did not speak about his experiences until the publication of his book, ‘A Detail of History’ in 1995, and since then has become one of the UK’s most prominent Holocaust education campaigners, touring schools and universities across the country to speak with younger generations about the horrors of the Holocaust. He has also worked closely with the National Holocaust Centre and Museum and other organisations to preserve the testimony of survivors, and seen his story featured in multiple TV documentaries.

Ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day, Arek met with the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at Downing Street to share his story, and was presented with his award (pictured above and below, alongside his wife Jean Hersh and daughter Michelle Tanam – photo credit Simon Dawson/No10 Downing Street).

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak gives a Points of Light Awards as he meets Holocaust Surviver Arek Hersh, aged 94, his wife Jean Hersh and their daughter and their daughter Michelle Tanam in 10 Downing Street. Picture by Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street

In a personal letter to Arek, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:

“It was a privilege to you meet you this week and to listen as you shared your testimony with me. It is a moment I will never forget.

“Every day I write to thank someone for their service to others by naming them as a Point of Light. So as we mark Holocaust Memorial Day, it could not be more fitting for me to write to you.

“You have shown the most breath-taking courage to speak in schools and communities across our country.

“As Prime Minister, I promise I will do everything I can to support Holocaust education and to ensure we never forget what happened to the Jewish people.”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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