Holocaust survivor Zigi Shipper dies on his 93rd birthday

A holocaust survivor who was imprisoned in two concentration camps during the Second World War has passed away on his 93rd birthday.

Zigi Shipper survived the Lodz ghetto and both the Auschwitz and Stutthof concentration camps, arriving in the UK in 1947.

He dedicated his life to educating others on the horrors of the Holocaust, spending the past two decades travelling around schools and sharing his experiences with young people.

Rishi Sunak paid tribute to Zigi in the House of Commons this afternoon, offering condolences to the friends and family of ‘a man with wonderful, wonderful energy and humanity.’

The Prime Minister followed up by imploring others to echo Mr Shipper’s simple but poignant message: ‘Do not hate.’

Zigi was born in the city of Lodz, Poland in 1930, and was forced into the Lodz ghetto along with his grandparents by the Nazis when he was just 10 years old.

When the ghetto was liquidated, Zigi and his grandmother were put on a train and deported to Auschwitz in 1944. 

From there, he was sent to Stutthof, and eventually to Neustadt which was liberated in May 1945. His grandmother tragically died the day of the liberation.

Zigi married his wife Jeanette soon after arriving in the UK, and had a large family who continued to support him throughout the rest of his life.

Paying tribute, Karen Pollock CBE, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust (HET) today wrote: ‘How do I describe Zigi? He was the most energetic, charismatic, charming, and brilliant person to have around. 

‘A man full of spirit with a devastating story to tell about his past, yet always sharing a message of hope and love.

‘Despite everything he went through, despite being a survivor – when I hear his name, I smile. Because above all, Zigi was a man of joy.

‘He was wonderful to be around, found fun everywhere he went and he was full of love – for his family, for the people around him, for life.’

In 2016, Zigi was awarded a British Empire Medal for his work with the HET.

A year later, he accompanied the Prince and Princess of Wales on a royal visit to Stutthof, where he was able to meet his lifelong friend and fellow prisoner Manfred Goldberg.

He said Kate was just ‘like a normal young lady’ and that she treated him as ‘a friend.’

In 2022, King Charles commissioned a portrait of Zigi, which hangs in Buckingham Palace alongside six other holocaust survivors.

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis also paid tribute to Zigi, writing: ‘I have known few people blessed with the innate warmth and charm of Zigi Shipper BEM. 

‘He was known as a survivor and an educator but, above all, he was a true Mensch who, despite the darkness he had endured, brought incredible light to the world. May his memory be for a blessing.’

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