The Prince of Wales paid tribute to Holocaust survivors at The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace
Prince Charles has hailed seven portraits of some of Britain's last remaining Holocaust survivors, saying their portraits act as a "a permanent reminder" of the depths to which "humankind can fall".
The Prince of Wales, who is patron of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, commissioned the portraits of the survivors now in their 90s and had attended their unveiling at a Buckingham Palace exhibition.
He was left moved after meeting one sitter who showed the prince her concentration camp tattoo.
Auschwitz survivor Lily Ebert, 98, whose picture was unveiled with six others at the Queen’s Gallery in London ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day (January 27), also showed the heir to the throne a golden pendant she hid from camp guards in her shoe.
“Meeting you, it is for everyone who lost their lives,” she told the prince during the event held on Monday.
In the foreword for a catalogue accompanying the exhibition, Prince Charles wrote: "Seven portraits. Seven faces. Each a survivor of the horrors of those years, who sought refuge and a home in Britain after the war, becoming an integral part of the fabric of our nation. “However, these portraits represent something far greater than seven remarkable individuals. They stand as a living memorial to the six million innocent men, women, and children whose stories will never be told, whose portraits will never be painted.”
“They stand as a permanent reminder for our generation – and indeed, to future generations – of the depths of depravity and evil humankind can fall to when reason, compassion and truth are abandoned," he added.
Listen to the Royal Rota podcast here:
Mrs Ebert showed the future king her pendant and rolled up the sleeve of her jacket to reveal the tattoo on her left forearm A-10572 – A for Auschwitz, 10 her block number and 572 her prisoner number.
In July 1944, a 20-year-old Mrs Ebert and her family – mother and five siblings – were transported to Auschwitz.
Her parent and some of her siblings were condemned to death in the gas chamber after encountering the infamous Josef Mengele, notorious for his experiments on those in the camp, while the remaining family members were put to work.
Speaking about her pendant in the shape of angel she said: “This necklace is very special. It went through Auschwitz and survived with me. Auschwitz took everything, even the golden teeth they took off people. But this survived.
“I put it in the heel of my shoe but the heel wore out so … I put it every day in the piece of bread that we got to eat. So that is the story of it. I was five years old when I got it from my mother for my birthday.
Charles also commissioned portraits of Manfred Goldberg, Arek Hersh, Anita Lasker Wallfisch, Rachel Levy, Zigi Shipper and Helen Aronson.
Zigi Shipper talks about the importance of remembering
Ms Aronson who, with her mother and brother, was part of a group of around 750 people liberated from a Nazi-run ghetto in occupied Poland out of 250,000 people sent there.
The family had been separated from her father who had been murdered by the Nazis.
“The portrait was just excellent, absolutely true to life. It has been such an experience," she said.
“I talked to the prince about life in the concentration camp and the exterminations. It is something that I didn’t talk about for a long time but I have gone on to have a very happy life. My family is everything to me."
The project is the subject of a 60-minute BBC Two documentary, Survivors: Portraits of the Holocaust, which will be screened on Monday.