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  • 20.08.2017

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Kate and William emotional as they meet Nazi concentration camp survivors in Poland
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20.08.2017

Kate and William emotional as they meet Nazi concentration camp survivors in Poland

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William and Kate viewed discarded clothes and met five survivors including two who had travelled over from London to return to Stutthof concentration and death camp, where 65,000 prisoners - 28,000 of them Jews - died at the hands of the Nazis.

Stutthof was the first camp set up outside German borders, in September 1939, and one of the last camps liberated by the

Allies, in May 1945. Some 110,000 men, women and children from 28 countries were imprisoned in the camp.
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During their visit, the Duke and Duchess met two British survivors of the concentration camp, Manfred Goldberg and Zigi Shipper, both 87 from North London.

Mr Goldberg, returning to a place of his incarceration for the first time, and Mr Shipper have dedicated their lives to sharing their stories with the next generation through the Holocaust Educational Trust. 

They met as 14 year olds in one of the sub-camps of Stutthof before being liberated in 1945. 
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The pair settled after the war in Britain where they have lived and been friends ever since.

William and Kate, who had not visited a Nazi camp before, were shown discarded shoes, clothes, and other personal possessions taken from prisoners when they arrived at the camp.

They were also shown the gas chamber used to murder those too sick to work.
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The royal couple paid their respects by placing stones at the camp's Jewish memorial, accompanied by Mr Shipper and Mr Goldberg, who recited the El Maleh Rachamim, the Jewish memorial prayer for those who have died.

The placing of stones at a grave or memorial is an old Jewish custom dating back to medieval times and possibly earlier. 

It honours the dead by letting people know that the gravesite has recently been visited.
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Mr Goldberg and Mr Shipper regularly visit schools all over the United Kingdom to share their testimony, telling students about their personal experiences of the Holocaust and life at Stutthof.

Originally created as a prison camp for Poles, Stutthof was used by the retreating Nazis from 1944 to house tens of thousands of Jews forced into brutal hard labour. 

Mr Goldberg, whose younger brother was murdered but mother Rosa survived their imprisonment,  said: "For me, returning to Stutthof is a seismic event. 
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"I have never been back to any of the places where I was imprisoned since I came to the UK in 1946. When I was first asked about visiting the camp, I hesitated. 

"The mere thought of returning made me relive those years in my mind. But I decided I had to come and finally face the past."

Mr Shipper who survived four years in Lodz ghetto as well as deportation to Auschwitz-Birkenau, before being transported to Stutthof, said: "I had no parents, no brothers or sisters. 
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"All I had were my friends, including Manfred. They were what kept me going."

He and Mr Goldberg worked as slave labourers at Stolp, a satellite camp of Stutthof, repairing the railway tracks close to the camp. In 1945, as the Nazis retreated ahead of the advancing Allies, they were sent on a death march towards Germany before eventually being liberated at the port of Neustadt, both ill with typhus.

Mr Shipper recalled how Mr Goldberg and other friends kept him going
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"When we were on the death march, they encouraged me to keep walking when I wanted to give up. We supported each other physically and emotionally. We were all weak, but gave each other strength. 

"It means so much to me that we were able to come back to the camp today, together," he said.

He added: “It was the place where I really thought I would die, but in fact, it saved my life. 
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“I thought the freezing weather there would kill me, especially wearing only the flimsy stripped pyjamas. 

"But when they asked volunteers for labour on the railway, I was one of the 20 boys who was picked. I went to Stolp and that’s where I met Manfred and his mother.” 

Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust said: "Today has been an incredibly poignant and moving day. Their Royal Highnesses' visit sends a powerful example to the world about the importance of remembering the horrors of the Holocaust and the importance of our work to educate future generations."
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