Holocaust survivor Zigi Shipper received a standing ovation from over 400 educators when he addressed the Association of Teachers and Lecturers’ annual conference in Liverpool.
Mr Shipper never saw his father again after being sent to the Lodz ghetto with his grandparents in 1940. He managed to escape from a lorry transporting people from the ghetto and returned to work in the metal factory until the ghetto’s liquidation in 1944. He was sent to Auschwitz and then to another camp near Danzig, where he volunteered to work at a railway yard so as to get more food.
With the Russians advancing, he was sent on a death march by the Nazis, arriving in the German naval town of Neustadt. Liberated by the British, he was hospitalised for three months as the consequence of over-eating after a long period of malnutrition. He came to Britain in 1947, has worked in the stationery business for 53 years and lives in Bushey.
He said he addressed the conference to emphasise the crucial role played by teachers in conveying the lessons of the Holocaust. “Considering I didn’t have an education past nine-years-old, I had tears in my eyes when I spoke in front of teachers and lecturers. I feel that young people should know what happened and understand where hatred and racism can lead to.”
ATL president Andy Ballard visited Auschwitz in March through the Holocaust Educational Trust, an experience which “reinforced my conviction that this important piece of recent history must never be forgotten. The experiences of the Holocaust survivors deserve to be taught in schools.”