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Alsop has a partnership with Holocaust Educational Trust as part of their Lessons from Auschwitz Project, and Mr Shipper usually travels to Liverpool to deliver his Auschwitz Survivor testimony. This year Alsop was determined to produce a short film to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive and to commemorate this important event. During the Act of Collective Worship students from Year 12 and 13, speak about why it is so important to remember and to reflect on the depth humanity can sink to. The film also prompts students to consider the ways individuals and communities resisted that darkness to ‘be the light’ before, during and after genocide.
Mr Chris Wilson, Headteacher at Alsop High School writes: “It is a great privilege for Alsop students to produce this film which includes the inspirational testimony of Mr Zigi Shipper, BEM. His Auschwitz survivor testimony is a powerful reminder of the horrors so many experienced at the hands of the Nazis during World War Two.”
Mr Peter Bull, Head of RE and Co-ordinator of HOPE 2021 at Alsop High School writes: “We would like to thank Mr Zigi Shipper BEM and his daughters Michelle and Lu for cooperating with the recording of this film. “We are also grateful to Mr Chuni Kahan MBE, Holocaust Awareness and Karen Pollock, Holocaust Educational Trust for their assistance. We hope that by watching the film and hearing Zigi’s testimony, it will encourage young people to learn from the lessons of the Holocaust and make a positive difference in their own lives.”
Karen Pollock CBE, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust adds: “We are delighted the students at Alsop have produced this film to feature the testimony of Mr Zigi Shipper, BEM. There has clearly been so much thought put into this, the students are very articulate and the footage of Zigi is fantastic - really Zigi at his best! The film reminds us that the bravery of survivors like Zigi, truly is an example of ‘light in the darkness.’
“The Holocaust Educational Trust educates and engages students from across the UK, from all communities about the Holocaust and there can be no better way than through the first-hand testimony of a survivor. Zigi’s story is one of tremendous courage during horrific circumstances.
This story about Zigi Shipper first appeared in the Guardian on 26th November 2016
‘At an age when I was celebrating my Bar Mitzvah, my grandfather was enduring a succession of concentration camps’
Darren Richman, 32, was born in the UK. His maternal grandfather, Zigi Shipper, 86, was born in Lodz, Poland. When my grandfather was 51, he suffered a massive coronary. My grandmother was told to prepare for the worst. She told the doctor, “The Nazis tried to kill my husband for five years and he survived that; I’m not too worried about this.” On his next birthday, he’ll turn 87.
Grandpa Zigi, as he’s affectionately referred to by just about everyone, was born to Jewish parents in 1930 in Lodz, Poland. Between 1940 and 1945, at an age when I was playing with friends and celebrating my bar mitzvah, he was enduring hell on earth at a succession of concentration camps. Auschwitz never felt like textbook history at school, because this genial, optimistic man, a huge part of my life, had survived it.
When I pop in to see him at his bungalow, undoubtedly the last home I’ll visit without Wi-Fi, Zigi starts chatting away immediately: “Do you know how long making a cup of tea used to take? How can people complain about things changing?”
I ask whether he ever feels envious of my generation: “Not at all. It makes me feel so great to see my children, my grandchildren, the education they had. To see the third generation doing so well makes me happier than anything. You are my revenge.”
I’ve never felt entirely comfortable with the description of myself as “third generation”. I’m sometimes called not just a third-generation immigrant but a third-generation survivor. But it feels insulting to consider myself a survivor of anything. When, as a child, I was first informed that Zigi had been to a camp for Jews when he was my age, I genuinely assumed it was similar to the ones I went to with youth groups. I couldn’t compute the reality of what I was being told and, to a large degree, I still can’t.
I had enough to eat and room where to sleep – why should I complain?
Yet the man before me, who witnessed first-hand some of the most horrific events of the last century, feels he has had a great life: “I had enough to eat and room where to sleep – why should I complain?” Seventy years in the country and his English might not be perfect, but the sentiment is.
I ask what he makes of my decisions, such as the peripatetic nature of my work (writing about films and football), compared with his own half-century spent running a stationery shop. He’s sanguine: “Do whatever makes you happy. Life is too short.”
One surprising difference between us is our attitude towards Jewish dietary laws. Zigi was brought up in an extremely religious household, yet his experiences changed his attitude towards food. He loathes anyone in the family using the word “starving” to denote hunger, and will eat just about anything. Despite being agnostic at best, I avoid pig and seafood – a superstitious hangover from my younger days, and one I seem unwilling or unable to shake.
When I ask about God, he’s diplomatic: “I don’t know one way or another. But at my age, it’s probably best to keep Him on side, just in case.”
I share little of Zigi’s optimism. Discovering an absence of milk in the fridge is enough to convince me the world is about to end. In July this year, my first child was born eight weeks early and spent the first few weeks of his life in intensive care. Fortunately, our son showed some of his great-grandfather’s survival instinct and he’s home now. The Nazis tried to reduce my grandfather to no more than a number: 84303. They didn’t quite manage that, nor could they rob him of a family. Our child, his great-grandson, is named Isaac Zigi.
Zigi was born on 18th January 1930 to a Jewish family in Łodz, Poland. In 1940 he and his grandparents were forced to move into the Łodz ghetto. Zigi managed to remain in the ghetto until its liquidation in 1944, when he and the survivors of the ghetto were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Nearing the end of the war, and with the Russians advancing, Zigi and the rest of his group were sent on a Death March. On arriving in the German naval town of Neustadt, there was a British air force attack, and during the chaos that followed Zigi realised that all of the Nazis had left. They were liberated on 3rd May 1945. Zigi finally arrived in the UK in 1947, where he married and had a family. He now lives in Hertfordshire and regularly shares his testimony in schools across the country.
Holocaust Educational Trust
The Holocaust Educational Trust (HET) was established in 1988 to educate young people from every ethnic background about the Holocaust and the important lessons to be learned for today. HET works in schools, universities and in the community to raise awareness and understanding of the Holocaust, providing teacher training, an Outreach Programme for schools, teaching aids and resource materials. Among HET’s earliest achievements was ensuring that the Holocaust formed part of the National Curriculum for History. Since 2005 the Holocaust Educational Trust has received Government funding for its flagship Lessons from Auschwitz Project, which gives two young people from every school and college in the country the opportunity to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau. HET also played a crucial role in the establishment of Holocaust Memorial Day in the UK and continues to play a key role in the delivery of this national commemorative event.
HET’s activities include:
• The Outreach Programme is a central part of HET’s work and gives students and teachers the opportunity to hear survivor testimony firsthand – the impact of hearing a survivor speak is something most people never forget and is a key feature of HET’s approach to this subject. The Programme is free of charge and enables young people to hear and talk to survivors. It also allows them to take part in focused workshops designed and delivered by HET educators.
• Think Equal has been devised specifically for schools in areas of racial tension. Working with staff in schools HET educators deliver teacher training to enable staff to devise workshops for their students focusing on the dangers of racism and discrimination and the contemporary lessons to be drawn from the Holocaust. As part of the project, students are also given the opportunity to hear a Holocaust survivor speak.
• Lessons from Auschwitz Project: HET’s Lessons from Auschwitz Project for post-16 students and teachers is now in its twelfth year and has taken over 10,000 students and teachers from across the UK to Auschwitz-Birkenau, as well as many MPs and other guests. The four-part course incorporates a one-day visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau. The visits, combined with Orientation and Follow-up seminars, leave an unforgettable emotional and educational mark on participants. The Project aims to increase knowledge and understanding of the Holocaust based on the premise that ‘hearing is not like seeing’ and to signal what can happen if prejudice and racism become acceptable.
In November 2005, the Treasury announced funding of £1.5 million for HET to support its Lessons from Auschwitz Project. The funding has enabled HET to facilitate visits to Auschwitz-Birkenau for two students from every school and college in the UK. Since 2006 the Project has received Government funding. commitment to support the HET which the last government gave is one we are proud to be able to continue with.”
• Teacher training: HET plays a leading role in training teachers on how best to teach the Holocaust and delivers teacher training to both trainee teachers at universities and institutions of higher education and to practising teachers as part of their Continuing Professional Development.
The Holocaust Memorial Day film is now available for use in Alsop and other schools.
It can be downloaded from YouTube via:
For more information please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.alsophighschool.org.uk