LOCAL school pupils recently got the chance to learn about the holocaust from a man who survived Auschwitz.
In a visit organised by the Holocaust Educational Trust, Zigi Shipper visited Cumbernauld High School last Wednesday to meet more than 350 pupils and staff from all local secondaries.
A Jew born in Lodz, Poland in 1930, Zigi was just ten when his family were forced to live in the Lodz ghetto. From there they were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau, and later in the war they were transferred to a concentration camp near Danzig.
As the Nazis lost ground to the oncoming Russian advance Zigi was sent on a death march to the town of Neustadt. Those who survived were liberated by British troops on May 3, 1945 and immediately Zigi and his friends went looking for food, which resulted in three months’ hospital treatment for the effects of overeating after such a long period of malnutrition.
After being released from a displaced persons camp and settling in the UK in 1947, Zigi married and raised a family of his own. Today he lives in Hertfordshire and frequently travels around the UK to share his story.
Teacher Laura Forrester said: “Remarkably at the end of Zigi’s presentation he emphasised the importance of not feeling hatred towards others. He asked pupils to reach out to all pupils – irrespective of their looks, religion etc – this is something that pupils found particularly remarkable.
“This coincides with a visit to Auschwitz that two pupils attended last week from Cumbernauld High School – Fraser Graham and Emma McIntosh, both S6, visited Auschwitz along with the Holocaust Educational Trust and will be speaking to all pupils at year group assemblies in coming weeks about their visit.”
Several pupils who were in the audience also shared their thoughts.
Sophie Davies of Cumbernauld High School said it was “Inspirational that after everything that Zigi has been through that he holds no hatred towards anybody.”
Lewis Brown, who attends Our Lady’s High School, said: “Today was a day that I will remember for the rest of my life. When Zigi told us to ‘never give up’ it has boosted my confidence and I am more determined to succeed”.
Aimee Hunter of Cumbernauld High School added: “Zigi’s story and words have greatly put things into perspective for me. How someone can experience such horror and pain yet feel no hate is inspiring. Incredibly wise words.”
Rebecca Newlands of Greenfaulds High said: “I am very thankful to have such a special opportunity to hear a moving story from such an inspirational person” Rebecca Newlands, Greenfaulds High School
And Beth Reid of Abronhill High added: “Very inspirational! Made me think about a lot of things I need to sort out.”