The ’45 Aid Society was set up as a charitable organization in 1963. Its founders were a group of child Holocaust survivors, known as ‘the Boys’, who were brought to Great Britain after the end of the Second World War.
Over 700 children were brought to the UK. The Boys, who actually included 204 girls, became a tight-knit friendship group, much like an extended family. They built successful new lives in Britain, the US, Israel, Australia and elsewhere.
The organisation supports the survivors and their families as a social organisation, but also in moments of need. The Boys wanted to say thank you and to give back to the society that had welcomed them.
The ’45 Aid Society is now run by the Boys’ children. The second generation, and increasingly the third and fourth generations, are the custodians of the Boys’ remarkable story. They work to keep the Boys’ life stories alive and relevant for future generations through educational, community and fundraising events across the world.
“Our friendships matured into bonds of brotherhood when we grew to be adults, created our own families and integrated into local communities. Throughout we have nurtured one another, derived comfort, encouragement, moral support, pleasure and reward. It is the establishment of the ’45 Aid Society that held us together and provided us with the opportunity to continue as a cohesive group…This experience of friendship and brotherhood is our strength; the framework and foundation on which we have built our lives. Our Society has given us a collective voice and offered us the opportunity to show how we have overcome trauma with dignity and independence.”
Sir Ben Helfgott, founding member of The ’45 Aid Society and one of The Boys.
“My father’s testimony helps us understand the unimaginable suffering survivors endured. It honours the memory of the six million whose voices were extinguished and has the power to give us hope. It shows us that through individual actions... we make sure no space exists for the repetition of past mistakes. It helps us look forward and teaches that all of us, individually, can contribute to creating a safer and more inclusive future for us all”.
Mark Perl, son of Joe Perl, one of The Boys.
“For most people, the Holocaust is an event in History, taught in classrooms and commemorated once a year. But for me and other third generation survivors, I believe the far-reaching effects of trauma, survival and legacy shape our everyday lives on an unconscious level. Because of this, we must engage with the Holocaust, our grandparents’ experiences and each other, in order to better understand who we are.”
Emily Burton, granddaughter of David Herman, one of The Boys