Artist, architect, writer and Holocaust survivor Roman Halter was born the seventh and youngest child into a traditional Jewish family in Chodecz, a small village in northern Poland, on 7 July 1927. Upon the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, he was deported (aged 12) with his family to the Lodz Ghetto, thence to Auschwitz, where he survived because of his skills as a metal worker, then to Stutthof and Dresden, and finally, to a children's home in Theresienstadt. One of over 700 child Holocaust survivors (his entire family having perished), he was brought to London by the Central British Fund for German Jewry (the CBF, now World Jewish Relief) in 1945, and was one of 'the Boys', sent to Windermere in the Lake District, where they received psychological and social care. He went on to study architecture, supported by the CBF, and established successful practices in London and Cambridge.
In 1973 he settled in Israel and was commissioned to design and construct the main gate to Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, established in 1953 as the world centre for documentation, research, education and commemoration of the Holocaust. On returning to London in 1976, he became a full-time artist, painting, sculpting, and working in stained glass and received a commission the same year to design the windows for the Central Synagogue. In 1981 he designed the entrance to Burnley Crown Court, comprising metalwork, terrazzo and an inlaid Royal coat-of-arms on the steps of the building. He exhibited paintings at The Imperial War, Museum, London; Tate Britain; the Redfern Gallery and the London Jewish Cultural Centre, as well as at Ben Uri Gallery in 1976, 1979 and posthumously in 2014, in an exhibition dedicated to his stained-glass practice.
Roman Halter died in London, England on 30 January 2012. In 2013 the film Roman's Journey, based on the artist's return visit to Poland with the BBC journalist Fergal Keane in 2006, received its premiere. Roman Halter's work is public collections in the UK and abroad including Beit Shalom, The National Holocaust Centre and Museum, Nottingham; Central Synagogue, London; The Imperial War Museum, London; Lady Sarah Cohen House, Friern Barnet, London; Leo Baeck College, The Sternberg Centre for Judaism, London; The Liberal Synagogue, Elstree; the Ghetto Fighters' Museum, Israel; and Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.