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Holocaust Survivor visits Tapton

The whole of year 9 were incredibly moved when Zigi Shipper, a Holocaust survivor came to speak to them about his experiences. Rebekah Cohen and Joanna Register report on this life changing event ...

The whole of year 9 were incredibly moved when Zigi Shipper, a Holocaust survivor came to speak to them about his experiences. Rebekah Cohen and Joanna Register report on this life changing event ...

On the 14th February 2014, a very special visitor arrived at Tapton School to talk to the pupils in Y9 and Y13. Zigi Shipper, a Holocaust survivor, came to share his story with us. He told us of how he went from living a normal childhood in Lodz, Poland, to life in the ghetto, imprisonment in Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp, working in a labour camp, struggling on a long death march and finally being liberated, to arrive in Britain in 1947.

With an aim to educate the young people of today about the important events of the Second World War, he came as a speaker from the Holocaust Educational Trust. The Trust educates students all over Britain about this significant historical event. His testimony gave us an insight of life as a Jew under Hitler’s command and has enabled us to further understand our World War Two topic in History and explore its meaning in more depth.

Although we already knew the basic facts, hearing his story told so personally made it seem a lot more real. It opened our eyes to how the Holocaust turned people’s lives upside down and the way he managed to overcome the pain he went through, made us realise that what happened to him is something we find hard to relate to.

 As a speaker, he used humour as a way of engaging our attention, particularly when answering questions. We experienced a range of emotions during his talk, from complete shock to laughter.

One of the things that shocked us was his experiences of the ghetto and the camps. He told us of how they seemed to ‘de-humanise’ him as well as those around him, until their main instinct was only for survival. Lots of the stories he told us showed how truly horrific his experiences were and we found it inspiring to hear how strong he was throughout his life. He told us we should ‘never give up’, as this was one of the things that helped him survive those years of his life.

He communicated to us some truly inspiring messages, with ‘never give up’ being one of them. Another was to ‘never hate’. We found this a very appropriate message, as Zigi said hatred was the reason the Holocaust happened. Hearing this in the words of a survivor seemed to emphasise even more for us the fact that something like the Holocaust must never happen again.  It really makes you think about your attitude towards people and your everyday life.

Overall, we found Zigi a very inspirational visitor. He seemed to be such a down-to-earth person, despite his extraordinary life story. Hearing his testimony made us value the importance of good friends and family, as well giving us more of an insight into the Holocaust. It was a very rewarding afternoon and we felt extremely privileged to have him come to our school and talk to us, an experience we’re sure we’ll never forget.