Institute News

USC Shoah Foundation Donors and Holocaust Survivor Knighted By Queen Elizabeth II

Two supporters of USC Shoah Foundation, Leonard Blavatnik and Trevor Pears, and Holocaust survivor Frank Lowy were awarded knighthoods on Queen Elizabeth II’s 2017 Birthday Honors List.

The Queen gives honors twice a year, for New Year’s and her official birthday in June. Awards are given to citizens in the United Kingdom and overseas who have made achievements in public life, committed themselves to serving and helping Britain, or displayed bravery or moral courage.

Blavatnik was awarded the Knight Bachelor for his contributions to philanthropy.

In 2014, his Blavatnik Archive Foundation displayed a multimedia exhibit of its testimonies of Soviet Jewish soldiers at USC’s Doheny Library, in partnership with USC Shoah Foundation. With the goal of contributing to a better understanding of the Jewish experience in the Soviet Union from the late 19th to 20th centuries, the Blavatnik archive includes, in addition to art and historical documents from before World War II, a wide range of World War II artifacts such as postcards written to and from soldiers, photographs from the front, periodicals, Nazi propaganda leaflets, and soldiers’ diary excerpts. The archive also features a “Then and Now” photo gallery with soldiers’ army photos next to portraits of them today.

In addition, the Blavatnik Archive Foundation has collected over 1,000 video testimonies of World War II Soviet army veterans in 10 countries. The soldiers (both men and women) discuss their experiences in the army as well as Jewish life before the war and their lives after the war.

Blavatnik’s donation to Oxford University established the Blavatnik School of Government, and he provided the lead donation to Tate Modern, enabling the completion of the extension, now renamed the Blavatnik Building. He also helped to fund buildings at the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Royal Academy, and programs at Cambridge University and the London Business School.

Pears and Lowy were both awarded Knights Bachelor on the Diplomatic Service and Overseas List, for their contributions to philanthropy and business inside and outside Britain.

Pears is Executive Chairman of the Pears Family Charitable Foundation, which provides partial funding for USC Shoah Foundation’s New Dimensions in Testimony project. New Dimensions in Testimony is the first initiative to produce interactive, three-dimensional video testimonies of Holocaust survivors for exhibition in museums around the world.

The Pears Family Charitable Foundation has donated £100 million in the past ten years. Its 250 grantees include Holocaust education and anti-Semitism, youth social action through their funding of the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, and funding for other youth groups. Activities overseas have included Project Darfur which galvanised the Jewish community’s response to the crisis in Darfur. He was also one of the main instigators of the Britain Israel Research and Academic Exchange Partnership which is one of the mainstays of the UK/Israel bilateral relationship.

Lowy was born in Slovakia and survived the Budapest ghetto during the Holocaust. He fought in Israel’s war for independence in 1948 and immigrated to Australia in 1952. He recorded his testimony for USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive in 1995.

Today, he is founder and chairman of the Westfield Corporation, one of the largest retail development companies in the world. He also supports cultural institutions in the UK including the Cabinet Office War Rooms, the Imperial War Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

USC Shoah Foundation congratulates Len Blavatnik, Trevor Pears and Frank Lowy on their knighthoods.

“It is inspiring to see the spotlight shine on all of them for their humanitarian leadership,” said Managing Director Kim Simon. “On behalf of Executive Director Stephen Smith and all of us at USC Shoah Foundation, thank you for your support of and partnership in our work, and for your unyielding drive to make positive change.”