Holocaust survivor Sir Sir Ben Helfgott, who competed at weightlifting in the 1956 and 1960 Olympics has died aged 93 ©Getty Images

British weightlifter Sir Ben Helfgott, one of two Holocaust survivors to compete at the Olympic Games, has died aged 93.

Sir Ben captained the British weightlifting team at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne and again at the 1960 Olympics in Rome, competing in the lightweight category, and finishing 13th and 18th respectively.

Sir Ben also claimed bronze at the 1958 British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Cardiff, as well as three golds at the Maccabiah Games, a multi-sport event open to Jewish athletes from around the world and all Israeli citizens.

Sir Ben was born in Poland in 1929, however at the age of ten his family were forced to move into a ghetto, established by the Nazis, alongside other Jewish people in the country, as reported by Jewish News.

Both of Sir Ben’s parents died before he was 15, while he was released from a concentration camp in Theresienstadt.

He was invited to go to Britain alongside 300 other Jewish youngsters, and just before he was due to start university saw people lifting weights.

This started his sporting career and he began to train in weightlifting, before being selected to compete at the 1950 Maccabiah Games, where he won gold.

After his sporting career, Sir Ben was later reunited with his sister Mala, who was sent to Sweden after being released from a concentration camp, and rebuilt his family.

Sir Ben Helfgott spent much of his adult life promoting and being involved in Holocaust education ©Getty Images
Sir Ben Helfgott spent much of his adult life promoting and being involved in Holocaust education ©Getty Images

With his wife Arza he had three sons and multiple grandchildren.

Sir Ben spent much of his adult life promoting and being involved with Holocaust education, served as President of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust and was a member of the Holocaust Commission, established by former British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Sir Ben was knighted in the 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honours list for services to Holocaust Remembrance and Education, and received a Pride of Britain award in 2020, which recognises people who have acted bravely or extraordinarily in challenging situations.

Paying tribute Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust said: "Sir Ben Helfgott was a giant amongst men.

"A Holocaust survivor, Olympic champion, campaigner, visionary and our leader.

"Despite all he endured, Ben taught us all about resilience, tolerance and the crucial importance of educating future generations."

Sir Ben is one of two Jewish athletes to have competed in the Olympics after surviving the Holocaust, along with Alfred Nakache, a French champion swimmer and water polo player.

Nakache, who died in 1983, competed in swimming at the Berlin 1936 and London 1948 Olympics.