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Hollywood star Helena Bonham Carter appointed to new Holocaust commission set up by prime minister

PUBLISHED: 18:16 27 January 2014 | UPDATED: 19:11 27 January 2014

Hollywood star Helena Bonham Carter will sit on a new Holocaust commission set up by prime minister David Cameron. Picture: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Hollywood star Helena Bonham Carter will sit on a new Holocaust commission set up by prime minister David Cameron. Picture: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

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Her grandfather was posthumously recognised for helping to save hundreds of Jews during the Second World War and members of her own family died in the atrocities of the Holocaust.

Holocaust survivors Ben Helfgott MBE (85) and Sabina Miller (92) with guest speaker Nick Clegg MP light the memorial candle at King's Cross station in Camden to mar Holocaust Memorial Day. Picture: Polly Hancock Holocaust survivors Ben Helfgott MBE (85) and Sabina Miller (92) with guest speaker Nick Clegg MP light the memorial candle at King's Cross station in Camden to mar Holocaust Memorial Day. Picture: Polly Hancock

Now Hollywood star Helena Bonham Carter has been appointed to a commission set up by prime minister David Cameron to ensure there is a permanent and fitting memorial to victims of the Holocaust.

The two-time Oscar nominated actress, who lives in Belsize Park, will sit on the national commission alongside chief rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, broadcaster Natasha Kaplinsky and senior politicians and business leaders, Downing Street announced today as the nation marked Holocaust Memorial Day.

The commission will look at ways to learn about the Holocaust and ensure victims of the Nazis are remembered, as well as ensuring future generations can be taught about the horrors of the concentration camps.

Ms Bonham Carter, whose grandfather Eduardo Propper de Callejon was posthumously recognised for his role saving hundreds of Jews, said: “I am very honoured to be asked to join this commission and do so in particular memory of those members of my family who died in the Holocaust and as an inherited responsibility to my grandfather who made a significant personal sacrifice to save hundreds of lives.

“It is our generation’s legacy to create a living memory that will survive the survivors and forever remind future generations of the inhumanity man is capable of committing to its own kind.”

She and Ms Kaplinsky, who lost family members in the Slonim ghetto in Belarus, are joined on the panel by education secretary Michael Gove, Liberal Democrat minister Simon Hughes and shadow chancellor Ed Balls.

The prime minister said it was important to act now to ensure that the suffering of victims was not forgotten.

He said: “Survivors have played a vital role in keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive, but we will not always have these remarkable individuals with us.

“We face a real danger that, as the events of the Holocaust become ever more distant, they feel increasingly remote to current and future generations.

“This cross-party, national commission representing our whole society will investigate what more needs to be done to ensure Britain has a permanent and fitting memorial and the educational resources needed for generations to come.”

The commission is led by Mick Davis, the chair of the board of trustees of the Jewish Leadership Council.

A public call for evidence will run until the end of May this year, with people across the country invited to submit their views on what new measures are needed.

Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said: “There can be no more fitting assurance to survivors to know that, as their number sadly declines, we are looking ahead to ensure that there is a permanent and fitting memorial to the Holocaust in this country.

Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg joined survivors of the Holocaust and more recent genocides to mark Holocaust Memorial Day in Camden today, as a candle of remembrance was lit at King’s Cross station.

He said forgetting the Holocaust would deprive future generations of “the knowledge of history, which is such an important inoculation for tragedies in the future”.

This year’s Holocaust Memorial Day marks the 69th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp.

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