THE ASCOT HOLOCAUST EDUCATION PROJECT

The Ascot Holocaust Education Project (AHEP) is a local initiative based in Ascot, Berkshire. It aims to promote understanding of the Holocaust, its causes and the aftermath, in both schools and the community through the story of the 34 child Holocaust survivors that were cared for in Woodcote House, on the edge of the iconic Ascot racecourse. In addition to providing educational assistance, the project organises events for people of all ages in the locality.

We are reliant on benevolent donations.

You can become a member of the Ascot Holocaust Education Project or simply donate to help us in our work by visiting the Support Us page on the menu bar.

WHY REMEMBER THE HOLOCAUST IN ASCOT?

Shortly after the end of World War Two a group of young Holocaust survivors were flown to the UK to recuperate. Thirty-four of them were housed in the Berkshire town of Ascot, famous for the pomp of the Royal Ascot horse races.

They were among several hundred children, mostly boys, who were offered a helping hand by the Central British Fund (CBF). The CBF had also organised and raised the finance for the Kindertransport scheme, which between November 1938 and September 1939 evacuated nearly 10,000 predominantly Jewish children from Nazi occupied Europe to Britain.

At least 1.5 million Jewish children had been murdered in the Holocaust, but after the war the CBF lobbied the government to grant visas to the few thousand who had survived.

The 34 boys were flown from Munich in Stirling bombers and taken to Woodcote House, a large manor opposite Ascot racecourse with extensive gardens full of rhododendron bushes. It belonged to a member of the local council and had been used to house Jewish evacuees during the war. After their arrival, the boys became known locally as ‘The Belsen Boys’ although not all had been in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

During their time in Ascot, the boys were part of the local community and played football on the open racecourse with other children. The time the boys spent in Ascot was a defining moment, as it was the first step in rebuilding their shattered lives.

“The rediscovery of this story offers us a unique opportunity that should not be missed. Ascot offered the boys hope and a new life. That is a positive message to get across in the present climate.”
— Elizabeth Yates, clerk of Ascot's parish council and AHEP trustee.
Two of the boys who were cared for at Woodcote House, Ascot. Jacob Fersztand, from Kozience in Poland is on the left. Jacob survived forced labour, Buchenwald concentration camp and a death march. When the picture was taken in 1945 he was 15-years-old. The boy on the right is unknown. Photo: Jacob Fersztand.

Two of the boys who were cared for at Woodcote House, Ascot. Jacob Fersztand, from Kozience in Poland is on the left. Jacob survived forced labour, Buchenwald concentration camp and a death march. When the picture was taken in 1945 he was 15-years-old. The boy on the right is unknown. Photo: Jacob Fersztand.

Manny Silver who ran the Ascot hostel was just twenty-two years old. Photo: Weiner Library.

Manny Silver who ran the Ascot hostel was just twenty-two years old. Photo: Weiner Library.