OPINION: When I hear Zigi Shipper’s name, I smile

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OPINION: When I hear Zigi Shipper’s name, I smile

The beloved Holocaust survivor, who has died on his 93rd birthday, was a 'man of joy', writes Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust.

Ziggy Shipper, by JENNY SAVILLE
Ziggy Shipper, by JENNY SAVILLE

Zigi Shipper was the heart and soul of every event. He had an infectious sense of humour, he was charming, flirtatious and had boundless energy. Which is why it is so difficult to accept that on his 93rd birthday, Zigi passed away.

Zigi was born in 1930 in Lodz. When he was just 10 years old he was forced into the Lodx Ghetto with his grandparents who he lived with. When the ghetto was liquidated, Zigi and his grandmother were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. From there, he was sent to Stutthof, and eventually to Neustadt where he was liberated in May 1945.

His grandparents did not survive.

In 1947 Zigi came to the UK where he settled and married Jeanette. They had two children and a large family. Every time I saw Zigi, he had stories of grandchildren and great grandchildren to share – he was so proud of them.

Zigi lit up a room and you can see from the explosion of love on social media and the sombre tribute by the Prime Minister in Parliament, that he is remembered with love.

Despite everything he went through, despite being a survivor – when I hear his name, I smile. Because above all, Zigi was a man of joy.

He was wonderful to be around, found fun everywhere he went and he was full of love – for his family, for the people around him, for life.

Karen Pollock

Zigi was in near retirement by the time he started regularly sharing his experiences through our outreach programme.

And yet, this giant of a man travelled the length and breadth of the country, reaching hundreds of thousands of young people. He was indefatigable. The students loved him – there was even a Facebook fan page set up for him back in the day!

In recent years, as his health deteriorated it became more difficult, but his spirit was always there and his legacy is carried by his dedicated daughters and wider family and by us – the Holocaust Educational Trust family and all who have had the privilege and honour to hear from him.

Zigi lit up a room and you can see from the explosion of love on social media and the sombre tribute by the Prime Minister in Parliament, that he is remembered with love.

The Holocaust Education Trust is collecting memories of Zigi. Share yours by emailing rememberingZigi@het.org.uk

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