It was a solemn start to the day as Prince William and Kate visited the Stutthof concentration camp in northern Poland on Tuesday. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who are on an official tour of Poland and Germany, were shown around the camp which was the first Nazi concentration camp set up in occupied Poland in 1939, and was one of the last to be liberated in 1945.
William and Kate, both 35, had the chance to meet two survivors of the concentration camp, Manfred Goldberg and Zigi Shipper, both 87 from North London. Mr Goldberg and Mr Shipper met as young men at the camp, and eventually settled in Britain once they were given their freedom. Mr Shipper survived four years in Lodz ghetto as well as deportation to Auschwitz-Birkenau, before being transported to Stutthof.
He recalled: "I had no parents, no brothers or sisters. All I had were my friends – including Manfred. They were what kept me going. 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 added: "I hope today's visit will remind the world what happened. Everyone has heard of Auschwitz Birkenau but it’s so important for people to hear about camps like Stutthof."
During the harrowing visit, William and Kate were shown discarded shoes, clothing and other personal items that once belonged to the prisoners and were taken from them when they arrived at the camp. They were also shown one of the gas chambers. The Duke and Duchess learnt about the history of life in Stutthof, where 28,000 Jews were murdered during the Holocaust.
They paid their respects by placing stones by 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. In Jewish custom, the placing of stones honours the dead by letting people know that the gravesite has recently been visited.
The royal visit was arranged by the Holocaust Educational Trust, a charity committed to educating and raising awareness of the Holocaust in the UK. Mr Goldberg and Mr Shipper now dedicate their lives to sharing their stories with the next generation through the charity.