A Northwood resident who shares his experiences of the Holocaust to spread awareness of the historical event has received a British Empire Medal (BEM) in the Queen’s New Year Honours.
91-year-old Freddy Berdach won the award for his work with the Holocaust Education Trust (HET), where he has led the way by adapting to the pandemic to continue his vital work. Using video streaming technology, he’s shared his story to hundreds via apps such as Zoom.
Mr Berdach was born into irreligious Jewish family in Vienna in 1930. After the Anschluss, where Austria was forcibly joined to Germany after the Nazi invasion in 1938, he can remember the looting of Jewish shops, the routine attacks on Jews and eventually escape to UK with his family, luckily avoiding the horrors of the concentration camps.
Despite a difficult start at various foster families and being bullied for his heritage at a convent school, Freddy eventually attended university, got involved in several charitable causes and started a family with his with Vanda.
Karen Pollock CBE, the Chief Executive of the HET, said: “Huge congratulations to all the survivors recognised in this year’s Queen’s New Year Honours list. We wish each of them a hearty mazel tov for an Honour well deserved.
“For those who made Britain their home after the horrors of the Holocaust to be honoured by Her Majesty for their service to this country is something magical. We are indebted to them and are so proud to work with each and every one of these remarkable people. Congratulations!”
“As for Freddy himself, all he had to say was: “I am thrilled and amazed at receiving this honour, but also very humbled. I’m sure there are many people more deserving of it.
“I volunteer at the day centre at Sandringham, and I deliver Chollas, provided by Jewish Care, to Holocaust Survivors. As a Survivor myself, I am obviously grateful to the Holocaust Educational Trust who must have sponsored me.”