The Duchess of Cambridge had quite the emotional reunion when she spoke with two Holocaust survivors, as during their conversation one told her: “All it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to remain silent.”
Kate joined up with two Holocaust survivors on video chat, Zigi Shipper, 91, and Manfred Goldberg, 90, as the three marked Holocaust Memorial Day on 27th of January. The trio talked about the importance of educating young people about the hardships that the Jewish people have been through in the past century, especially by Nazi Germany during World War Two.
As children, Zigi and Manfred spent most of their childhood in ghettos and a number of labor and concentration camps, including Stutthof near Danzig-now Gdansk-where the two met for the first time back in 1944. The camp was the first camp built outside of German borders back in 1939, as well as being one of the last camps liberated by the Allies in May 1945.
Kate met the two during a visit to Stutthof concentration camp near Gdnask during her tour of Poland with her husband Prince William in 2017.
This virtual engagement was organized by the Holocaust Educational Trust (HET), whose goal is to educate young people from all backgrounds about the Holocaust and the vital lessons we should take from it, be it at schools, universities or local communities.
The Duchess, Zigi and Manfred spoke with two students who have become HET Ambassadors, Farah Ali and Maxwell Horner. Maxwell told them that he had been inspired both by a family visit to Anne Frank’s house in Amsterdam and his visit to Auschwitz.
“I’ve always had from quite a young age a strong passion about human rights and injustice. I jumped at the opportunity,” he said. “I feel the Holocaust is a focal point of injustice. It was the biggest injustice of modern history. If we learn about the Holocaust, we can make sure it doesn’t happen again, make sure we recognized the signs leading up to genocide.”
When asked by the Duchess about how she felt hearing the men’s stories, Farah simply said: “There are no words to describe it.”
While speaking about his work lecturing the younger generation, Manfred said: “What I end up telling them is…that please remember all it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to remain silent. And I do get feedback that indicates that this is taken aboard.
“I have been told time and again, that leaning about the Holocaust from a textbook is rather dull and doesn’t make an impact. But to listen to a survivor makes an incredible impact.”
Kate agreed, saying: “We all have a role to play, all generations have a role to play in making sure the stories that we have heard from Zigi and Manfred today live on and ensure that the lessons that we have learnt are not repeated in history for future generations.
“I am really glad there is the younger generation flying the flag for this work.
“Manfred and Zigi, I never forgot the first time we met in 2017 and your stories have stuck with me since then and it’s been a pleasure to see you again today and you are right Manfred, it’s important that these stories are passed onto the next generation.”
On the day of the memorial Prince William and Kate shared some poignant photos from their visit to Stutthof in Poland in 2017, where the couple first met the two Holocaust survivors, Zigi and Manfred. The caption accompanying the post read: “As young boys, Zigi and Manfred both spent time in ghettos and a number of labour and concentration camps, including Stutthof in Poland where they met for the first time in 1944, and remain friends to this day.
“Of the 110,000 men, women and children who were imprisoned in the camp during the Holocaust, as many as 65,000 lost their lives – including 28,000 Jews.
“Together on 27 January, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp, we bear witness for those who endured genocide, and honour the survivors and all those whose lives were changed beyond recognition.
“We must never forget. #HMD2021.”
The Duke and Duchess both look visibly moved by their visit to the former concentration camp in Gdansk four years ago.
Last year, for the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, Kate shared two powerful photos she had taken of survivors with their grandchildren at Kensington Palace.
The Cambridges weren’t the only ones to post about the memorial, with the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall recording a special message to open the 2021 virtual Holocaust Memorial Day event, which will take place on Wednesday 27th January. Prince Charles has been patron of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust since 2015, with him attending the World Holocaust Forum at Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, last year.