Royal Corner

Kate Visibly Moved by Holocaust Stories

The Duchess of Cambridge became visibly moved in a video call with Holocaust survivors as she honours Holocaust Memorial Day.

JANUARY 27th, 2021

© KensingtonRoyal/Instagram


oday marks Holocaust Memorial Day, and the Duchess of Cambridge spoke to two survivors to hear about their stories. Visibly moved by the recollections of Zigi Shipper and Manfred Goldberg – who the Duchess of Cambridge alongside her husband Prince William met at Stutthof in 2017 – Catherine praised the survivors for their bravery and reinstated how important it was that their stories were “passed on to the next generation”.

The Duchess joined Manfred and Zigi through video call, announcing that she had never forgotten their first meeting in 2017: “Your stories have stuck with me since then,” said Catherine.

Manfred agreed, responding: “I assure you we have not forgotten our meeting either.”

The Duchess of Cambridge spoke to survivors and youth ambassadors of the Holocaust Educational Trust - © The Royal Family

The call highlighted the horrors of the Holocaust, with the Duchess becoming visibly moved after Manfred and Zigi relayed their experiences in the concentration camps.

Manfred was 11 years old when he was sent to the camp, alongside his mother and younger brother, Herman. The family eventually reunited with their father after he had escaped to England two weeks before, though sadly Manfred’s younger brother had been murdered in the camps. “Unfortunately, it was a bittersweet union as my younger brother was murdered in the camps.

“Instead of having four of us in the family, there were just three.

“He was just seven years old when he was taken into the camp and nine years old when he was taken away to be murdered."

The Duchess responded: “Just so young. Horrible.”

Manfred also revealed how he had survived the Holocaust – by lying about his age. The Nazis took anyone aged over 17 to be deemed old enough to work in slave labour. Manfred, who was 14, told a guard that he was 17 instead meaning he was spared from the gas chambers. “It was a daily lottery to survive,” he said.

In 1946, Manfred was reunited with his family in England and admitted how honoured he was to live in a country in freedom: “"I must tell you in all honesty that when I arrived in this country, I did not dream in my lifetime I would ever have the privilege of seeing, never mind connecting, with royalty.

"It confirms to me that I will never appreciate fully how lucky I was to be admitted to live my life in this country in freedom.

"My life really began when I arrived here when I was 16 years old. I didn’t know the meaning of life."

The Duchess spoke with Zigi Shipper and Manfred Goldberg who she met in 2017 alongside Prince William - © Kensington Palace

Zigi, who met Manfred at the same concentration camp and have been friends ever since, told the Duchess of Cambridge how he was crammed into trains built for animal transportation and then taken to Auschwitz: “I didn’t have a clue what Auschwitz was. They told us to leave everything. They took us to washing and cleaning.

"It happened that other people that went with the group, they had to go for a selection - and 90 percent of them were killed straight away.”

He also moving spoke about the shocking scenes he witnessed, which left the Duchess of Cambridge visibly shocked and moved, including seeing mothers and their babies being shot for not handing them over. "I always remember. How can I forget that number? I can’t forget it. I want to get rid of it,” said Zigi.

Zigi was remarkably reunited with his mother who had fled to Britain via the British Red Cross and eventually went onto marry and have a family of his own.

The Duchess of Cambridge took a collection of photographs to honour survivors and victims of the Holocaust last year. - © HRH The Duchess of Cambridge

The video call was organised by the Holocaust Educational Trust, which works in universities, schools and local communities to help educate people about the Holocaust and the vital lessons which must be learned from the atrocity.

Later in the call the Duchess, alongside Zigi and Manfred, she spoke to students who have become youth ambassadors of the HET – Farah Ali and Maxwell Horner, both 18. Farah described the men’s stories, saying: “There are no words.”

The Duchess of Cambridge has become a strong advocate for commemorating and remembering the Holocaust, its victims and survivors. Last year, the Duchess took a collection of moving images to mark 2020’s Holocaust Memorial Day and attended a lighting ceremony alongside the Duke of Cambridge, who has equally cemented his commitment to remembering the Holocaust.

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