Bishop Tom Williams recently visited Alsop High School in Liverpool to hear the moving testimony of Auschwitz survivor Zigi Shipper.
The school was showcasing the Anne Frank Trust exhibition to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz – with Bishop Paul Bayes opening the exhibition at a ceremony attended by Mr Ian Cohen, Chairman of Merseyside Jewish Representative Council, and Councillor Erica Kemp, Lord Mayor of Liverpool.
At the event last month Zigi Shipper said that while we cannot change the past, we have the power to determine our future, adding that many people ask him, ‘How can I remember?’, to which he always replies: ‘How can I forget when most of my family perished?’ In 1944, he was sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau where, for some unknown reason, he did not have a number tattooed on his arm; nonetheless, his striped pyjamas bore the number 84303.
People were dying from starvation and freezing to death. Yet, with the Russians advancing, Zigi and the rest of his group were sent on a death march, eventually reaching the German town of Neustadt. He was finally liberated by the British Army on 3 May 1945. A few days later, he ended up in hospital for three months due to the effects of overeating after a long period of malnutrition. Upon completing his convalescence, he was moved to a Displaced Persons’ Camp in Hamburg.
Last week Zigi returned to Auschwitz for the 70th Anniversary of the liberation. ‘I am not miserable, I am happy and I love people,’ had been his parting words at Alsop. 'But we must not forget the six million Jews who perished and we must not forget the other people who also perished in the Holocaust.’