UK appoints envoy for post-Holocaust issues

AP 9 June 2010

LONDON — Britain appointed its first-ever envoy to deal with post-Holocaust issues on Wednesday.

Foreign Secretary William Hague announced that Andrew Burns, a former ambassador to Israel, would take the job. Hague said Britain is committed to preserving the memory of the Holocaust and will support efforts to make sure that the lessons of this period in history are not forgotten.

Burns would oversee efforts to resolve outstanding issues and claims related to property and art restitution. He would also take part in education efforts and promote remembrance and research about the Holocaust.

"Sir Andrew's appointment will ensure that we continue to support those working to right past wrongs," Hague said.

Some 6 million European Jews were killed in the genocide carried out by the Nazis — who also looted artwork, gold and property across the continent.

Recent international efforts have focused on providing restitution to aging victims of Nazi persecution. More than 40 countries agreed Wednesday on a set of international rules for returning real estate stolen by the Nazis to their rightful owners or heirs.

Burns' appointment was applauded in Israel.

"We think it's a very positive and important step ... and we wish him a lot of success in his work in promoting Holocaust education and fighting for the rights of the survivors," said Estee Yaari, a spokeswoman for Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and museum. "The Holocaust is an issue that is part of all of our history."

Associated Press writer Karoun Demirjian in Jerusalem contributed to this report.
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