Freddie Knoller, Holocaust survivor, sculpted by Frances Segelman

21 Jan 2020

Pearl Harris (Frances' granddaughter), Victoria Harris (Frances' daughter), Freddie Knoller, Susie Knoller (Freddie's Daughter), Nadav Knoller (Freddie's grandson), Frances Segelman. (Photo: Sophie Dunne)Frances Segelman*, also known as Lady Petchey, has created a bust of Freddie Knoller*, 98-year-old Holocaust survivor and resistance fighter who is a member of Jewish Care’s Holocaust Survivors’ Centre.

The live sculpting event took place at Jewish Care’s Selig Court independent living apartments on Sunday 19th January and was attended by an audience of Freddie’s family and friends, tenants of Selig Court, members of Jewish Care’s Holocaust Survivors’ Centre and young volunteers from the Sunday Social. The initial life-size clay bust of Freddie took just two hours to complete and will subsequently be cast into bronze at the Bronze Age Foundry in Limehouse.  Frances' daughter, Victoria Perloff, painted a portrait of Freddie which she presented to him on the day. 

Frances Segelman at Jewish Care's Selig Court sculpting Freddie Knolller Jewish Care's Holocaust Survivors' Centre member.Well known for her busts of royalty and celebrities, Frances Segelman (Lady Petchey) has created a series of sculptures of Holocaust survivors living in the UK, including Sir Ben Helfgott, Leslie Kleinman BEM, Ivor Perl BEM and Miriam Freeman. Frances Segelman (Lady Petchey), “It has been a great privilege to sculpt Freddie Knoller - these important art events help future generations learn from the Holocaust so that it never happens again."

Freddie says, “During the Second World War, I was making a living in Paris. In 1943 I was arrested and deported to Auschwitz and later taken on the death march to Bergen-Belsen.”

Freddie was later liberated from Bergen-Belsen by the British Army.

After the sculpting session, Freddie commented, “Although I have had many photos taken of me, I have never been sculpted before. It was very exciting to be sculpted by Frances. She is a fantastic artist and has created an amazing sculpture of me. Thank you, Frances.”


* Freddie Knoller was born in Vienna on 17 April 1921. The youngest of three brothers, he escaped to Belgium when the Nazis invaded. Freddie was interned in a refugee camp in Belgium until 1940 before fleeing to France and escaping incarceration again to join cousins in unoccupied Galliac.

Under false papers, he made a living in Paris and joined the French Resistance in March 1943 before being betrayed, arrested and deported to Auschwitz where he was forced to work. He managed to survive before being taken on the Death March to Bergen Belsen and liberated by the British Army on 15 April 1945.

He joined his two brothers in the USA in 1947, working in Baltimore, where he met and married his wife Freda, who was born in England. They returned to England two years later to have their two daughters, Marcia and Susie.

* Frances Segelman is a friend of the Royal Society of Arts, an associate of the Royal Society of British Sculptors and a member of the Royal British Society of Sculptors.

Freddie and Freda worked in their successful chain of shops, ‘Lady M’, and Freddie became Director of the State of Israel Bonds on retirement. It was only in 1975, under his daughter’s insistence, that he talked about his experiences in the Holocaust. Freddie became an active member of Jewish Care’s Holocaust Survivors’ Centre and began to give talks in order to raise awareness and educate others about the Holocaust. Freddie received his British Empire Medal in 2016, age 94, in recognition of his work speaking at 385 schools since 2002.