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Tributes have been paid to Lilian Black

Tributes have been paid to the chair of the Holocaust Survivors’ Friendship Association (HSFA), Lilian Black OBE, who has died on 29 October after contracting Coronavirus.

The 69-year-old from Leeds helped set up the Holocaust Exhibition and Learning Centre (HELC), the first Holocaust centre of its kind in the north of England, based at the University of Huddersfield, in 2018 and was seen as one of the leading global Holocaust educators.

The daughter of Holocaust survivor Eugene Black, who was liberated from Bergen-Belsen, Lilian’s work in raising public awareness of the consequences of hate is widely recognised and tributes have poured in following her shock death. “Lilian Black was like a force of nature: a powerhouse of energy, determination, insight, charisma – and a superabundance of generous humanity,” said Ben Barkow, successor chair of HSFA. “She inspired those around her and drew them to her cause of honouring the victims of the Holocaust and working to ensure the voices of survivors challenge our prejudices and indifference. Lilian is irreplaceable and unforgettable. We mourn her passing.”

Professor Bob Cryan, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Huddersfield also paid tribute to Lilian’s work in setting up the Holocaust Exhibition and Learning Centre.“My colleagues and I are proud to have known and worked with Lilian,” he said. “When the HSFA was looking for a base to develop its education and exhibition work, centred on the survivor testimony and archive, the University was able to offer space on its campus and Lilian worked tirelessly to turn the idea into reality.  The centre which is now based here is a tribute to her determination, and outstanding ability to form networks.  She will be sadly missed by everyone here and we send our condolences to her family and the HSFA membership”.

As chair of the Holocaust Survivors’ Friendship Association, Lilian’s work in providing support for survivors and building links between people of all cultures and faiths was also hugely respected.

Trude Silman, Holocaust survivor and Life President of the HSFA, said they had lost a “wonderful friend” and “inspirational” chair.

“She will be greatly missed, not only for her strong leadership of the HSFA and her heartfelt support for the survivors but for her tremendous dynamism in developing the Holocaust Learning and Exhibition Centre at Huddersfield University,” she said. “Speaking on behalf of the members of the HSFA, we hope that the centre becomes a thriving place of learning and remembrance, to make a fitting legacy for Lilian.”

Tributes also recognised the warm and caring environment she created for survivors to share experiences and establish networks of support.

The Leeds Jewish Representative Council said in a statement that, “she was a wonderful inspirational woman. We send our condolences to her husband Frank and all the family. May her memory be a blessing.”

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