Britain is to honour the heroes of the Holocaust who saved lives during the Second World War, including two people from the West Midlands.
The decision marks victory for a long-running campaign by MPs who wanted the nation to recognise the achievements of Stourbridge man Frank Foley, who saved thousands of German Jews, and June Ravenhall, a Warwickshire woman who risked her life sheltering a Jewish man in Nazi-occupied Holland.
Cabinet office minister Liam Byrne, MP for Hodge Hill in Birmingham, announced the Government had agreed to their proposal.
Foley, a British passport control officer working in Berlin, forged visas and passport documents for Jews attempting to flee Germany and Austria, even hiding the chief rabbi of Berlin in his own house. He went into concentration camps to secure the release of Jewish prisoners and is believed to have saved about 10,000 lives.
After the war, he retired to Eveson Road, Norton, Stourbridge, and rarely spoke about his wartime experiences. Details of his activities came to light after his death.
Ravenhall was a Kenilworth woman who moved to The Hague, Holland, with her husband Les, from Coventry, where she sheltered a young Jewish man in her home, at the request of the Dutch resistance. Her name was Elsie but she was known by her middle name, June.
Both were honoured posthumously by the Israeli government, but MPs including Lynda Waltho (Lab Stourbridge), Ian Austin (Lab Dudley North) and Jeremy Wright (Lab Kenilworth) have been pushing for Britain also to recognise their bravery formally.
Mr Byrne said: “While the Holocaust teaches us the depths to which man can sink, it also contains some of the best stories of the human spirit.
“It was in the midst of this great crime that a small number of very brave people chose not to stand by but to act, despite the fact that the consequences for them could be severe if they sheltered or saved Jews.”
He added: “The Government agrees that it is entirely appropriate that we should have in this country a national recognition of these Holocaust heroes.
“The Government will create an award of recognition for the extraordinary acts of courage shown by a number of British citizens in the Second World War, to help Jews and other persecuted groups escape the evils of the Holocaust.”
The Government would discuss the best way of commemorating them with their families and descendants, and MPs from all parties, he said.
Mr Byrne said formal recognition of British heroes would assist in teaching people about the Holocaust in years to come.
Earlier this week, Gordon Brown had a private tour of the Auschwitz death camp in Poland, where an estimated 1.5 million people, mainly Jews, were murdered between 1940 and 1945.
The Prime Minister announced that Britain will contribute to a 120 million euro fund to maintain the site as a shrine.
Accompanied by wife Sarah, he saw gas chambers and piles of shoes and spectacles belonging to those who were murdered.