The Holocaust

Please smile: Recreating the 'Windermere boys' photograph

The original photograph of about 200 teenage survivors of the Nazi Holocaust, just before they flew to Windermere to begin new lives, was taken in a city recovering from occupation and war.

At the weekend, a similar number of survivors and their descendants had to gather early on a Sunday to avoid the traffic of a busy prosperous Czech capital city to have a new picture taken in the same place.

But the photographer's problem is always the same, to get them all to look at the camera and smile.

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That photo, a TV star, and a Bafta, in a single Sunday

One of the people who was in Prague for the recreation of a photograph of child survivors of the Holocaust was the TV star Robert Rinder, of Judge Rinder, whose ancestors included one of the children who came to Windermere.

He also featured in an episode of the documentary story Who Do You Think You Are, where he came to Cumbria and talked to Trevor Avery, the founder of the Lake District Holocaust Project.

And last night, all these strands came together in London...

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Prague gathering will recreate 'Windermere Boys' photo

John Bowness

BBC Radio Cumbria reporter

A special photograph will be taken in Prague this weekend, with a direct connection to the history of Windermere and Ambleside.

It's 74 years since 300 children, who became known as the Windermere Boys, were brought to Cumbria after surviving the concentration camps of the Nazi Holocaust, and given a place to recover while their futures were being sorted out.

Original photo

This is a photograph taken of some of them in Prague before they flew to Carlisle in 1945, and now a number of those who are still alive, and descendants, have gathered in the Czech capital to recreated the picture.

Trevor Avery, who founded the Lake District Holocaust Project to tell the story, says the picture is symbolic of the survival of the children and those who would never have been born if they had not escaped the slaughter.

It's an emotional and moving gathering but it's also a hugely significant symbolic gathering."

Trevor Avery

New plans for Holocaust Memorial slated

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Artist's impression of what the Holocaust Memorial Learning Centre will look like, after plans were updated in April 2019.
Updated design of what the Holocaust Memorial Learning Centre will look like

Updated plans for a Holocaust Memorial beside Westminster Palace have been slated by campaigners who say it will waste millions of pounds.

Critics say the Grade II*-listed Victoria Tower Gardens is the wrong location for the proposed learning centre with entrance pavilion, and courtyard.

The Government’s updated plans submitted last week — which reduce the size of the building from that in the original plans — have done little to appease objectors from the Save Victoria Tower Gardens Campaign, who have opposed it since 2017.

Campaigner Clare Annamalai said: “All these changes to the Government’s plans are about mitigating harm to the gardens, this small historic park, and about reducing harm to the views of Lambeth Bridge and the Buxton Memorial Fountain [also in the gardens].”

The Government revealed more than £5 million has already been spent on the project.

“It will probably cost £10 million in the end. That’s all taxpayers’ money,” Ms Annamalai said.

“We’re not rejecting the proposal, it’s not anti-semitic. This is about saying you can remember the Holocaust without destroying a park.”

The new plans show the pavilion will have a “lighter, more transparent” appearance to “harmonize” with the gardens setting.

A courtyard boundary fence has been made lower, so as to not disrupt views.

The learning centre will be given a longer but narrower shape so that it is “set back” from the park’s trees.

Its basement would also be smaller.

The government says other suggested locations, such as next to the Mayor of London’s offices or by Millbank Tower, would offer “poor visual prominence, no emotional or political logic, little or no outdoor space to provide a prominent memorial”.

Ms Annamalai suggested the memorial dedicated to the six million victims of the Naxi concentration camps could be built on “a brownfield site in central London”, though she couldn’t suggest one when asked.

And the campaigners say the Imperial War Museum would be the “logical place” to put a learning centre. In early April, communities secretary, James Brokenshire, said the memorial will have national significance, “not just for London. It’s not just for Westminster”.

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Tomi Reichental kept his childhood at a Nazi concentration camp a secret, even from his wife.