90-Year-Old Jewish Man Meets With Family of Former British PM Who Rescued Him From the Nazis
A Jewish man who was rescued from the Holocaust by former British Prime Minister Clement Attlee met with members of Attlee’s family at an emotional ceremony held on Wednesday at the Houses of Parliament.
90-year-old Paul Willer reached England as part of the Kindertransport, which saved thousands of Jewish children fleeing Nazi Germany. He was taken in by Attlee and his family at the age of 10 in 1939 and stayed in their home throughout the war.
According to The Daily Mail, Willer called the reunion a “joyful experience” and spoke highly of the former prime minister.
“The Attlee home was exciting, it was pleasurable and very homely,” he said. “Mr Attlee was very kind to all of us children. … He was a genuine man and good father figure. For me what I remember most was being showered with love by the whole family.”
“I would say thanks very much for having me and teaching me the many things that I learned,” Willer said of what he would say to Attlee were he alive today.
At the meeting, Willer embraced Attlee’s granddaughter Jo Roundell Greene, who described the event as “quite emotional really.”
“I’ve known that my grandparents took in a refugee boy before the war but it was always a vague memory that I didn’t know much about until very recently,” she said. “Now it has become a reality that I feel very privileged to be part of today.”
Clement Attlee was the longtime leader of the British Labour party. He served in a unity government throughout World War II alongside prime minister Winston Churchill. After the war ended, he defeated Churchill in the 1945 general election and became prime minister himself. He is perhaps best known today as the founder of Britain’s National Health Service. However, it was unknown until now that he had sheltered a Jewish refugee.
At the event, House of Commons Speaker John Bercow said of the Holocaust, “Although that particular evil has passed, there are many examples of, if not entirely comparable evils, not wholly dissimilar evils, being perpetrated elsewhere.”
“The scourge of racism, discrimination and anti-Semitism and indeed of ethnic cleansing and genocide are, I’m sorry to say, still very much a fact of life across the world in 2018 and they were in 1938,” he added.