The Holocaust Educational Trust is deeply saddened at the passing of our dear friend Holocaust survivor Zigi Shipper BEM.

Karen Pollock CBE, Chief Executive, Holocaust Educational Trust

How do I describe Zigi? He was the most energetic, charismatic, charming and brilliant person to have around. A man full of spirit with a devastating story to tell about his past, yet always sharing a message of hope and love.

Zigi spoke in schools across the country week in and week out, determined to teach the next generation about the difficult lessons of the past, to make a better future. In 2017 he accompanied Their Royal Highnesses Prince and Princess of Wales on their visit to Stutthof concentration camp and shared memories of his time there, leaving a deep and enduring impression on them both. In 2022 His Majesty King Charles commissioned a portrait of Zigi, which hung in Buckingham Palace, a testament to this great man - Zigi’s humanity as ever shone through, even in a portrait.   

Zigi Shipper was born in 1930 in Lodz, Poland and in 1940 was forced to move into the Lodz Ghetto where he was made to work in a metal factory. In 1944, when the Ghetto was liquidated, Zigi was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. After a few weeks, he was moved to Stutthof concentration camp before being sent on a death march in 1945. He was liberated by British troops on 3rd May 1945 and came to the UK in 1947. Here he met his wife Jeannette and had two daughters. He had a big family of which he was hugely proud.

I adored Zigi and will miss him. He was part of the HET family and will leave such a huge gap in all of our hearts. May his memory be a blessing.

Zigi Shipper BEM 1930-2023

Zigi was born on 18th January 1930, in Łódź, Poland and attended a Jewish school. In 1940 Zigi and his grandparents were forced to move into the Łódź Ghetto.

In 1942, all children, including Zigi, were rounded up and put on lorries to be deported from the ghetto. Zigi managed to jump off the lorry and escaped back into the ghetto where he remained, working in the metal factory, until the ghetto’s liquidation in 1944. When the ghetto was liquidated, all of the people from the metal factory were put onto cattle trucks and sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau. On arrival, they were sent to the so-called Sauna building, where they were stripped, shaved and showered. Everyone else from the ghetto had to go through a selection, where a Nazi officer decided who was fit enough to work and those who should be killed immediately. Within an hour of the selection, those from Zigi’s transport who were not classed as fit for work had been murdered.

A few weeks after arriving at Auschwitz-Birkenau, Zigi was sent to Stutthof concentration camp near Danzig. Once there, Zigi volunteered to work at a railway yard, where he was able to get more food. With the Soviets advancing, Zigi and the rest of his group were sent on a Death March, arriving in the German naval town of Neustadt. There was a British air attack, and during the chaos that followed Zigi realised that all of the Nazis had left. They were surrounded by British troops and liberated on 3rd May 1945.

Zigi finally arrived in the UK in 1947, where he married and had a family.