Former ambassador named UK Holocaust envoy

Sir Andrew Burns was ambassador to Israel between 1992 and 1995

Sir Andrew Burns was ambassador to Israel between 1992 and 1995

The former UK Ambassador to Israel has been appointed Britain’s first envoy for post-Holocaust Issues.

Foreign Secretary William Hague has named Sir Andrew Burns to the role, which will involve resolving issues of property and art looted during the Second World War.

He will also be responsible for keeping Britain at the forefront of Holocaust education efforts and furthering the work of the International Tracing Service, a body aiming to document the fate of Nazi victims.

Sir Andrew, who chairs the executive committee of the Anglo-Israel Association and was ambassador to Israel from 1992 to 1995, said he was “deeply honoured” to be appointed.

He added: “The UK already plays a leading and active role in promoting Holocaust education, remembrance and research, in tackling and resolving outstanding issues and claims and in raising public awareness of the continuing relevance of the lessons and legacy of that terrible moment in European history.

He said he would prioritise talking to Holocaust experts throughout the community “in order to understand as well as I can the scope and substance of the issues involved and develop a properly co-ordinated and strategic way forward in international discussions.”

Mr Hague said the appointment of Sir Andrew would help ensure that the lessons of the Holocaust would not be forgotten by future generations.

“As a former UK ambassador to Israel and chairman of the Anglo-Israel Association, Sir Andrew’s wealth of experience means he is ideally placed to tackle the challenges this post presents.”

Lord Janner, Chairman of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said he "warmly welcomed" the appointment:

He said: "We can be proud that Britain has consistently led the way in Holocaust education, commemoration and restitution – and are delighted that Sir Andrew will act as a global ambassador for that work”.

Anne Webber, co-chair of Commission for Looted Art in Europe, and Michael Newman, director of the Association of Jewish Refugees, praised the decision.

They said: "We have worked closely with the Government to achieve this historic post and very much look forward to working with Sir Andrew at this crucial time with several post-Holocaust issues
requiring urgent attention and decisive leadership.”

Last updated: 6:12pm, June 9 2010