Putney Resident Receives British Empire Medal

Published: 06/01/2022 By Allan Fuller

A 78-year-old woman from the SW15 area has been given a British Empire Medal (BEM) in the New Year’s Honours list.

Anne-Marie Lever, who is also known as Annick, was awarded for services to Holocaust Education and Awareness.

She is a Holocaust survivor who has shared her testimony with students and adults across the United Kingdom. In the last two years alone, through her work with the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Outreach Programme, she has told of the experiences of her family to hundreds of children.

She was born in November 1943 in Nazi-occupied France to a Jewish mother and a Catholic father. Life became very difficult for French Jews after the German invasion in 1940. Annick’s family had to register, declare all their possessions and, from 1942, wear a yellow Star of David on their clothing.

Their identification papers were stamped with the word ‘Jew’ and a curfew was imposed preventing Jewish people from being out of their homes in the evening. In 1944 Annick and her family were taken to the local prison and kept there pending deportation to Drancy (the main transit camp in France). Her father, as a non-Jew and a member of the Resistance, was able to smuggle Annick and her baby cousin out of the prison.

The rest of the family were transported and were taken from Drancy by cattle train to Auschwitz-Birkenau on 10 February 1944. They did not survive and later she learned that her mother most certainly died on the journey.
After the war, Annick was brought up in a small town in south-west France by a Catholic family. She came to Britain in 1963 and it is this story she now tells in schools across the country.

As well as her work with Outreach Programme, she has also worked with organisations such as the Jewish Museum in Camden, the League of Jewish Women, and a number of liberal synagogues and local councils, sharing her testimony with different groups, from all backgrounds and assisting numerous local communities in marking Holocaust Memorial Day each year in January.

She quickly mastered video technology and now shares her testimony to students via Zoom. She has also given a number of radio and other press interviews to educate the wider public on the history of the Holocaust. These articles and clips have been shared widely online, reaching millions of more people.