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Page last updated at 14:08 GMT, Thursday, 14 January 2010
Holocaust survivor feels 'lucky'
Ziggy Shipper
Mr Shipper urged the students not to feel hate in their lives

A survivor of the Holocaust has been talking to Tyneside students about his experiences ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day on 27 January 2010.

Ziggy Shipper visited Benfield School in Newcastle as part of the Holocaust Educational Trust's outreach project.

Mr Shipper was 14 when he was sent to Auschwitz concentration camp.

He described himself as lucky to have survived and said he felt he owed it to those who did not survive to keep talking about what had happened.

He said: "Whole families were wiped out - who will tell their story?

"Many of our stories are very similar so I feel I should tell people what can happen."

No freedom

Mr Shipper, who was born in Poland, said he felt he had not lost as much as some people in the camps because he grew up without his parents and had no siblings to be separated from.

Auschwitz-Birkenau camp in 1955
A view of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp in 1955

However, he does regret being denied the chance to thank the grandmother who raised him for what she had done.

She was detained in a different concentration camp and died on the day it was liberated.

"She didn't even have one day of freedom," Mr Shipper said.

"I would love to have at least once put my arm around her and kiss her and say thank you for bringing me up."

Cell block

When asked, Mr Shipper told the students he did not feel any hatred towards Germany - and urged them never to feel hate in their own lives.

How can you believe that one human being can do that to another one?
Ziggy Shipper

He told them: "It's certainly not the [fault of the] people who are alive today. Why should I hate them when they did nothing?"

"Do I hate the people who did it? I don't know, but do I forgive them? No - for a simple reason - I don't feel I've got the right to forgive the people.

"God can forgive and the people that are dead can forgive, I can't"

"At the end of the day what does [hate] do? If you hate you are the one that suffers, you become bitter and you hate everybody."

Legacy of hope

Mr Shipper described how as a prisoner at Auschwitz he only saw his cell and block and that when he first went back to the camp with his daughters he couldn't cope with seeing the full extent of it.

Railway lines at Auschwirz-Birkenau
Ziggy Shipper was sent to the concentration camp aged 14

He said he understood how people could find it hard to believe something like the Holocaust could have happened:

"How can you believe that one human being can do that to another one?

"Just taking babies, taking children, taking old people, women, men and slinging them into a gas chamber?

"I can understand when people say it couldn't have happened - but unfortunately it did happen."

The theme of Holocaust Memorial Day 2010 is Legacy of Hope.

There will be an event at Journal Tyne Theatre in Newcastle on 24 January.

Find out more about Holocaust Memorial Day here:



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