William laments 'darkness and despair' of the Holocaust

PA

The Duke of Cambridge has said the Holocaust should never be forgotten after touring a centre dedicated to telling the stories of millions of Jews murdered by the Nazi regime.

William was left moved by the experience of visiting Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Centre in Jerusalem, and heard the heart-wrenching stories of two survivors.

William was thanked by the elderly men for Britain's role in taking them and thousands of other Jewish children from Europe, as part of the Kindertransport effort ahead of the outbreak of the Second World War.

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In a written message that he signed in the visitors' book, he set out his thoughts and told of his pride that his great grandmother, the Duke of Edinburgh's late mother Princess Alice of Battenberg, is honoured by the Jewish people for hiding and saving the lives of Jews in Nazi-occupied Athens during the Second World War.

The future king, who was anxious to send a message to his generation about the horrors of the past, wrote: "It has been a profoundly moving experience to visit Yad Vashem today.

Duke of Cambridge Middle East tour Day 3
Duke of Cambridge Middle East tour Day 3

"It is almost impossible to comprehend this appalling event in history.

"Every name, photograph, and memory recorded here is a tragic reminder of the unimaginable human cost of the Holocaust and the immense loss suffered by the Jewish people.

"The story of the Holocaust is one of darkness and despair, questioning humanity itself.

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"But the actions of those few, who took great risks to help others, are a reminder of the human capacity for love and hope.

"I am honoured that my own great grandmother is one of these Righteous Among the Nations.

"We must never forget the Holocaust, the murder of six million men, women and children, simply because they were Jewish.

"We all have a responsibility to remember and to teach future generations about the horrors of the past so that they can never reoccur.

"May the millions of Jewish people remembered by Yad Vashem never be forgotten. William."

Clearly deeply moved by the experience of seeing the remnants of concentration camp victims, belongings and exhibits showing the Nazi factories of death, he told Henry Foner and Paul Minikes-Alexander who fled to Britain as children: "There is a lot to take in. It's not easy."

Duke of Cambridge Middle East tour Day 3
Duke of Cambridge Middle East tour Day 3

The Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis joined William for his visit and took part in a simple but moving ceremony in the museum's Hall of Remembrance where the duke laid a wreath in commemoration of the Holocaust victims and rekindled the eternal flame.

Mr Foner, 86, was aged just six and living in German when his father sent him on the Kindertransport scheme to escape the growing threat from the Nazis and was fostered by a Jewish family in Swansea.

After speaking to William he said: "I did thank him and I thanked the British people and I thanked the British Government, he was so modest about it and said 'well I didn't do anything' so I said 'yes, but you are the symbol of people who did do something and saved our lives'."

The 86-year-old presented the duke with a copy of a book based on the postcards he received from his father, who was deported to Auschwitz where he was murdered in 1942.

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