Prince Charles to Honor Holocaust Survivors Through Art: 'Love Triumphs Over Hate'

"As the number of Holocaust survivors sadly, but inevitably, declines, my abiding hope is that this special collection will act as a further guiding light for our society," Prince Charles said

HRH Prince Charles
Prince Charles. Photo: Tom Hayward and BBC Studios

Prince Charles is preserving the memory of Holocaust survivors through a unique series of paintings.

In March 2020, Charles, 73, who is patron of the National Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, commissioned a series of artists to paint seven people who lived through the trauma of the Holocaust. And it has been recorded in a new documentary, Survivors: Portraits of the Holocaust.

It is the latest move by the royal family to remember those who lived through the Holocaust. Kate Middleton's photography project, in which she captured survivors with their grandchildren, drew praise two years ago, as the 75th anniversary of the Holocaust was marked.

Charles, who has painted for years, gave an interview for the documentary, which will air on the BBC in the U.K. on Holocaust Memorial Day, January 27.

"As the number of Holocaust survivors sadly, but inevitably, declines, my abiding hope is that this special collection will act as a further guiding light for our society, reminding us not only of history's darkest days, but of humanity's interconnectedness as we strive to create a better world for our children, grandchildren and generations as yet unborn; one where hope is victorious over despair and love triumphs over hate," Prince Charles said in a statement.

HRH <a href="https://people.com/tag/prince-charles/" data-inlink="true">Prince Charles</a>
Prince Charles. Tom Hayward and BBC Studios

The prince has made it a central plank of his public work to both recognize the unique contribution that different religions bring to the U.K. and the world, and to bring different communities together.

All seven people featured in the project are concentration camp survivors who are now in their 90s and living in Britain. The participants include Helen Aronson painted by Paul Benney; Lily Ebert painted by Ishbel Myerscough; Manfred Goldberg painted by Clara Drummond; Arek Hersh painted by Massimiliano Pironti; Anita Lasker Wallfisch painted by Peter Kuhfeld; Rachel Levy painted by Stuart Pearson Wright; and Zigi Shipper painted by Jenny Saville.

The BBC documentary follows the creation of the paintings as the artists and survivors come together for their final sittings, with the artists reflecting on their time getting to know the survivors and how their experiences informed their paintings.

According to the BBC, viewers will hear the testimonies of the seven remarkable men and women "who witnessed one of the greatest atrocities in human history, and will meet the artists tasked with creating portraits that represent their pain and loss, as well as their dignity, light and hope."

The paintings will be on display at The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace and then at Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Karen Pollock CBE, Chief Executive, Holocaust Educational Trust said, "This is an incredible initiative led by HRH The Prince of Wales and covered in prime time on BBC Two."

"These Holocaust survivors endured the very worst. They were rounded up into ghettos, sent to concentration camps and enslaved as forced labourers. To survive the concentration and death camps and 77 years later see their portraits displayed in Buckingham Palace is very special indeed, and a poignant and fitting testament to their lasting contribution to this country. The Nazis intended there to be no Jews left in Europe – instead these survivors are honoured at the heart of British society.

"HRH The Prince of Wales has long been a true supporter of Holocaust education and remembrance, and we could not be more grateful and indebted to him for the work he continues to do to ensure that the Holocaust holds a central place in British history and memory."

The portraits will stand as a lasting reminder of the horrors of the Holocaust, which will one day be lost to living memory. They will be part of the Royal Collection and the documentary's interviews will be stored at London's Imperial War Museum.

The Duchess of Cambridge's images are also on display at the museum. Kate viewed the exhibit in November.

In September, she also met with one of the subjects of the paintings commissioned by Charles — Arek Hersh. They shared a boat across Lake Windermere when she visited with some of the survivors who had been brought to the English countryside after the war. A survivor of Auschwitz, Hersh lost 81 members of his family. He settled in Leeds, Yorkshire, and worked as a mechanic and then as a landlord for students in the city.

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge arrives to embark on a boat trip on Lake Windermere
Kate Middleton chatting with Holocaust survivors on September 21, 2021. Alamy Stock Photo

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He previously PEOPLE of his visit with Kate, "It was very nice. She was very interested. It brought back happy memories of being on the lake. It took some years to get rid of the whole situation. I lost everybody, my parents, brothers and sisters."

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