Sheffield pupils hear stories from a survivor

Holocaust survivor Ziggy Shipper pictured with pupils at Sheffield Park Academy.
Holocaust survivor Ziggy Shipper pictured with pupils at Sheffield Park Academy.
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Horrors of the Holocaust were brought home to pupils at a Sheffield school when a survivor of the Auschwitz death camp came to share his memories.

Zigi Shipper talked to youngsters at Sheffield Park Academy on the Manor during a visit organised by the Holocaust Educational Trust.

The 83-year-old met students from Years 8, 10 and 11 and told them about his childhood in the Lodz ghetto in Poland and subsequent internment at the notorious Auschwitz and Birkenau camps.

A question and answer session enabled the pupils to better understand the nature of the Holocaust and to explore its lessons in more depth.

Mr Shipper is a regular visitor to schools around the country as part of the trust’s year-round outreach programme.

Headteacher Craig Dillon said it was a privilege to welcome Zigi to the school.

“His testimony remains a powerful reminder of the horrors so many experienced,” he said. “We are grateful to the trust for co-ordinating the visit and we hope that Zigi’s testimony will encourage our students to learn from the lessons of the Holocaust and make a positive difference in their own lives.”

Zigi told the students he had lived in the ghetto until 1944, when he and other survivors were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau.

“The first thing I noticed when I got off the train was that the sky was hazy. Then I noticed the ­terrible smell,” he said.

“From a distance we saw chimneys with smoke coming out. ­Rumours started spreading that it was a crematorium. I didn’t know what that meant.”

Zigi, then 15, survived as he was fit enough to work. Near the end of the war he and the rest of his group were sent on a death march but he escaped in the chaos of a British air attack.

Trust chief executive Karen Pollock said: “There can be no better way to learn about the Holocaust than through the first-hand testimony of a survivor. Zigi’s story is one of tremendous courage and, by hearing his testimony, students have the opportunity to learn where prejudice and racism can ultimately lead.”