Leeds holocaust survivor gets British Empire Medal award

Iby Knill.
Iby Knill.
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A holocaust survivor is to receive the British Empire Medal to honour her work in educating young people about her wartime experiences.

Iby Knill, of Chapel Allerton, Leeds, has addressed more than 50,000 young people since she began to talk and write about the horrors of the genocide.

The 93-year-old told the YEP of her delight at being informed of her inclusion in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for services to Holocaust education and interfaith cohesion

Mrs Knill said: “As they say in Yorkshire - I’m chuffed!”

“I have had lots of messages on Twitter from friends saying ‘well done’.

“It’s a tremendous honour and I feel very proud.”

Mrs Knill grew up in Czechoslovakia and escaped to Hungary in 1942 as Nazi persecution of Jews accelerated.

As a young woman, she spent time in hiding and helping the local Resistance movement before she was captured and taken to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.

She spent much of her internment working as a slave labourer in an armaments factory until being liberated by American troops.

She later discovered her father had died in the gas chambers, and was reunited with her mother and brother.

A fluent German speaker from childhood, she used her language skills to act as an interpreter for British forces in post-war Germany.

She met her husband, British army officer Bert Knill, and in 1947 came to England.

It was not until 50 years later that she began to talk and write about her wartime experiences.

Her first book, The Woman without a Number, was published in 2010 and describes her time in a Resistance movement and her imprisonment.