Prince William starts Israel visit by honoring Holocaust victims

Britain's Prince William is paying homage to the six million Jews killed in the Nazi Holocaust, in a solemn start to the first official visit by a British royal to Israel and the Palestinian territories.

William, second in line to the throne, is laying a wreath at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial's Hall of Remembrance, and meeting two men who survived the Nazi genocide thanks to British intervention.

Henry Foner, 86, and Paul Alexander, 80, were among thousands of Jewish children taken in by Britain as part of the 1930s "Kindertransport" from a continental Europe that was falling to German conquest.

Speaking before William's visit, Alexander, freshly back from a bicycle ride that retraced his life-saving voyage as a toddler, said he was chosen to meet the prince as the youngest member of the Kindertransport.

"When I put my foot on English soil for the first time, it was like I had been reborn, because I left Nazi Germany and was received by the British people and I have an enormous debt of the thanks to the British people," Alexander told Reuters.

13 PHOTOS
Prince William in Jordan
See Gallery
Prince William in Jordan
AMMAN, JORDAN - JUNE 25: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Crown Prince Hussein of Jordan visit the Jerash archaeological site on June 25, 2018 in Amman, Jordan. (Photo by Ian Vogler - Pool/Getty Images)
AMMAN, JORDAN - JUNE 25: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Crown Prince Hussein of Jordan walk past an enlarged photo of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge in her youth with her father on a family holiday, as they visit the Jerash archaeological site on June 25, 2018 in Amman, Jordan. (Photo by Ian Vogler - Pool/Getty Images)
Britain's Prince William (C) and Jordanian Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah (R) chat with Syrian and Jordanian school children during their visit to the Jerash archaeological site, some 50 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on June 25, 2018. - The 36-year-old Duke of Cambridge arrived in Jordan on Sunday at the start of a Middle East tour that will see him become the first British royal to pay official visits to both Israel and the Palestinian territories. (Photo by AHMAD ABDO / AFP) (Photo credit should read AHMAD ABDO/AFP/Getty Images)
AMMAN, JORDAN - JUNE 25: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Crown Prince Hussein of Jordan visit the Jerash archaeological site on June 25, 2018 in Amman, Jordan. (Photo by Ian Vogler - Pool/Getty Images)
Britain's Prince William (C) and Jordanian Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah (R) visit the Jerash archaeological site, some 50 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on June 25, 2018. - The 36-year-old Duke of Cambridge arrived in Jordan on Sunday at the start of a Middle East tour that will see him become the first British royal to pay official visits to both Israel and the Palestinian territories. (Photo by AHMAD ABDO / AFP) (Photo credit should read AHMAD ABDO/AFP/Getty Images)
Britain's Prince William (L) and Jordanian Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah (R) visit the Jerash archaeological site, some 50 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on June 25, 2018. - The 36-year-old Duke of Cambridge arrived in Jordan on Sunday at the start of a Middle East tour that will see him become the first British royal to pay official visits to both Israel and the Palestinian territories. (Photo by AHMAD ABDO / AFP) (Photo credit should read AHMAD ABDO/AFP/Getty Images)
Britain's Prince William (L) and Jordanian Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah (R) pose for a group picture with Syrian and Jordanian school children during their visit to the Jerash archaeological site, some 50 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on June 25, 2018. - The 36-year-old Duke of Cambridge arrived in Jordan on Sunday at the start of a Middle East tour that will see him become the first British royal to pay official visits to both Israel and the Palestinian territories. (Photo by AHMAD ABDO / AFP) (Photo credit should read AHMAD ABDO/AFP/Getty Images)
Britain's Prince William (C) and Jordanian Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah (R) chat with Syrian and Jordanian school children during their visit to the Jerash archaeological site, some 50 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on June 25, 2018. - The 36-year-old Duke of Cambridge arrived in Jordan on Sunday at the start of a Middle East tour that will see him become the first British royal to pay official visits to both Israel and the Palestinian territories. (Photo by AHMAD ABDO / AFP) (Photo credit should read AHMAD ABDO/AFP/Getty Images)
Britain's Prince William (1st-L) and Jordanian Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah (2nd-L) visit the Jerash archaeological site, some 50 kilometers north of the Jordanian capital Amman, on June 25, 2018. - The 36-year-old Duke of Cambridge arrived in Jordan on Sunday at the start of a Middle East tour that will see him become the first British royal to pay official visits to both Israel and the Palestinian territories. (Photo by AHMAD ABDO / AFP) (Photo credit should read AHMAD ABDO/AFP/Getty Images)
Britain's Prince William gives a speech during a birthday party in honour of his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, at the residence of the British ambassador Edward Oakden (L)in the Jordanian capital Amman on 24 June, 2018. - The 36-year-old Duke of Cambridge arrived in Jordan at the start of a Middle East tour that will see him become the first British royal to pay official visits to both Israel and the Palestinian territories. (Photo by AHMAD ABDO / AFP) (Photo credit should read AHMAD ABDO/AFP/Getty Images)
Britain's Prince William meets Jordanians working in the education sector during a birthday party in honour of his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, at the residence of the British ambassador in the Jordanian capital Amman on 24 June, 2018. - The 36-year-old Duke of Cambridge arrived in Jordan at the start of a Middle East tour that will see him become the first British royal to pay official visits to both Israel and the Palestinian territories. (Photo by AHMAD ABDO / AFP) (Photo credit should read AHMAD ABDO/AFP/Getty Images)
Britain's Prince William arrives to attend a birthday party in honour of his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, at the residence of the British ambassador Edward Oakden's (L) house in the Jordanian capital Amman on 24 June, 2018. - The 36-year-old Duke of Cambridge arrived in Jordan at the start of a Middle East tour that will see him become the first British royal to pay official visits to both Israel and the Palestinian territories. (Photo by AHMAD ABDO / AFP) (Photo credit should read AHMAD ABDO/AFP/Getty Images)
AMMAN, JORDAN - JUNE 24: A guard of honour for Prince William, Duke of Cambridge as he arrives at Marka Airport at the start of his Middle East tour on June 24, 2018 Amman, Jordan. Prince William's five-day tour of the region is his most high-profile foreign trip and the first official visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories by a member of the monarchy on behalf of the Government. (Photo by Joe Giddens-Pool/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Originally from Leipzig, Alexander was reunited with his mother, who reached Britain the day before World War Two erupted, and with his father, who survived Nazi internment at Buchenwald. Many other kindertransport children were less lucky.

Foner, whose original name was Heinz Lichtwitz, was taken from Berlin to the Welsh city of Swansea in 1939, two years after his mother committed suicide - a victim, he believes, of despair at the doom gathering around Europe's Jews.

Foner received postcards from his father until the war cut off mail contact. In mid-1942, the elder Foner told his son in a final letter delivered through the Red Cross: "Our destiny is very uncertain." Months later, he was murdered at Auschwitz.

The correspondence was included in Yad Vashem's Kindertransport exhibit, as well as in Foner's memoir, copy of which he said he hoped to present to Prince William.

"I was a six-year-old refugee kid, and here I am giving a book I wrote, to honor my father, basically, to a member of the royal family," he told Reuters. "It's great honor for me to be able to say thank you, symbolically, to the British people who saved my life."

Later in the day, the prince will see Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin before heading to Jaffa and Tel Aviv on the Mediterranean coast to meet young people participating in a football-based youth program.

During the visit, which Britain has described as non-political, William is also scheduled to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the occupied West Bank and engage with Palestinian youngsters.

 

Read Full Story