The Duchess of Cambridge has been reunited with two Holocaust survivors as she praised the bravery of those who continue to their share their stories of the horrors of the Second World War.
On a video call Kate spoke to Zigi Shipper, 91 and Manfred Goldberg, 90, who she first met in 2017, to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.
Zigi and Manfred were both sent to the Stutthof concentration camp near Gdansk in Poland by the Nazis when they were just 14.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge first met the pair during an emotional visit to the camp as part of their royal tour to Poland four years ago.
It was the first time both men had returned to the camp since moving to the UK after the war ended.
Speaking to the two men again Kate said, “The stories you both have shared with me again today, and your dedication in educating the younger generation about your experiences and the horrors of the Holocaust shows extreme strength and such bravery.
“It’s so important and so inspirational, so thank you so much once again for sharing your stories with me and for all the work you do in sharing your experiences.”
Like thousands of Jewish children and their families in the Second World War, Mr Shipper and Mr Goldberg were rounded up by the Nazis and forced into slave labour while living in the most inhumane conditions.
Around 110,000 people from 28 countries were imprisoned in Stutthof. As many as 65,000, including 28,000 Jews died.
Manfred described to Kate how they never knew from one day to the next if they would survive.
He said, “We were facing a selection which meant shuffling single file forwards, and each one of us faced an SS man who would say left or right, and by that time we knew that left meant death today and right meant survive until the next selection at least.”
Zigi, who has originally been sent to Auschwitz described the brutality they faced: “There were women with children and they were holding the baby and the German officers came over and said ‘put the baby down and go to the other side’, they wouldn’t do it, eventually they shot the baby and sometimes the woman as well.
“I had a number, 84,303 and I always beg up to today, how can I forget that number and I can’t forget it, I want to get rid of it.”
In a lighter moment Zigi joked with Kate that it was really her that he wanted to meet and not Prince William, he said: “I was so happy you know, I didn’t need to see your husband, you were the one that I wanted.”
Laughing, Kate replied: “Well Zigi I’ll tell him you miss him very much; he sends his regards as well obviously.”
Manfred added: “When I arrived in this country in 1946, I did not dream that in my lifetime I would ever have the privilege of seeing, never mind connecting with royalty.
“It confirms to me that I will never appreciate fully how lucky I was to be admitted to live my life in this country, in freedom.”
Mr Shipper and Mr Goldberg, continue to share their stories with schoolchildren and young people through the Holocaust Educational Trust.
The Prince of Wales, as patron of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, has recorded a message to open the 2021 virtual Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) event, calling on the world to ensure that “darkness can never return”.
The Prince says: “As I speak, the last generation of living witnesses is tragically passing from this world, so the task of bearing witness falls to us.
“That is why The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, of which I am so proud to be Patron, has this year chosen the theme – ‘Be the Light in the Darkness.’
This is not a task for one time only; nor is it a task for one generation, or one person. It is for all people, all generations, and all time.
“This is our time when we can, each in our own way, be the light that ensures the darkness can never return.”
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