Another story of suffering, another painful life of a Jewish child! Born in 1930 in Łódź, Poland, Zigi (Short for Zygmunt) was 9 when the Germans arrived in the country. Aside from his parent’s divorce when he was four, he lived a happy and comfortable life with his father, grandparents, and cousins.
One sad morning he woke up only to find his father standing beside his bed in tears. He told Zigi that he is going to flee the country before the Germans catch him and take him away. Both of them thought the Germans were only after the military-age men. What they didn’t know was they were wrong and for the Nazis, anyone Jewish had a target on his back.
His father fled to Russia in 1939 leaving young Zigi behind, hoping he will be in the safety of his grandparents and extended family.
Between November 1939 and April 1940, the entire Jewish population (about 150,000 people) of Łódź was herded into a ghetto. While Zigi was destined for more suffering, his grandfather died in the ghetto due to malnutrition.
Zigi Shipper pictured in the late 1940s. Credit: Holocaust Educational Trust
After one successful escape, Zigi along with his grandmother, aunts, uncles, and cousins were loaded into a lorry and transported to Auschwitz. The last time he saw his grandmother was at the selection ramp of Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Zigi found out later that she died on the day of liberation.
“After Auschwitz, we were separated. I found out she died in Theresienstadt on the day of liberation. She didn’t have one day of freedom. She was wonderful to me. I would have loved to put my arms around her for one last time.”