Duchess Kate reunites with Holocaust survivors in moving video call

By Heather Cichowski

Duchess Kate had an emotional video call with Holocaust survivors and youth ambassadors this week. The chat, which was shared on Holocaust Memorial Day on Jan. 27, saw the mom of three reunite with Zigi Shipper, 91, and Manfred Goldberg, 90, whom the duchess and Prince William had previously met in 2017.

Farah Ali and Maxwell Horner, youth ambassadors from the Holocaust Educational Trust (HET), also participated in the call and listened to the nonagenarians recounting their experiences in concentration camps. Holocaust Memorial Day marks the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz in 1945.

Zigi and Manfred spent time in ghettos, labour camps and concentration camps as boys, and met in 1944 at the Stutthof concentration camp. They were later reunited by chance. They "remain friends to this day," according to Manfred.

You can watch the group's discussion below.

In addition to Manfred and Zigi sharing their experiences, the group discussed the importance of educating people of younger generations about the Holocaust and the persecution and genocide committed against the Jewish people by the Nazis.

Maxwell and Farah highlighted the importance of educating the next generation about the Holocaust and how they became involved in the HET.

"I've always had from quite a young age a strong passion about human rights and injustice," Maxwell said about how a visit to the Anne Frank House inspired his involvement.

"I feel the Holocaust is a focal point of injustice... If we learn about the Holocaust, we can make sure it doesn't happen again, make sure we recognize the signs leading up to genocide."

Kate praised the youths for their work and highlighted the importance of how all generations should play a part.

"Please remember: All it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to remain silent," said Manfred about the message he gives to his audiences, who are often students aged 16 to 17 years old, such as Maxwell.

In a more lighthearted moment from the conversation, Zigi and Manfred joked about their delight at seeing Kate!

"I was so happy, you know," said Zigi. "I didn't need your husband, you were the one I wanted."

"Zigi, I will tell him that you miss him very much," Kate said. "And he sends his regards as well."

Kate and William with Zigi and Manfred at the former Nazi Germany Concentration Camp Stutthof in Gdansk during the Cambridges' official visit to Poland and Germany on July 18, 2017. Photo: © Samir Hussein/WireImage

The Duchess of Cambridge appears to have recorded her video call at Sandringham again. She and Prince William have been using the Queen's residence for video calls recently as they isolate nearby at their country home of Anmer Hall in Norfolk.

The mom of three previously held a virtual call with front-line workers and health care staff from the location to recognize all they have done during the coronavirus pandemic. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge also recorded their Burns Night call there.

Prior to sharing Kate's video call, the Kensington Royal Instagram uploaded a stirring tribute to mark Holocaust Memorial Day, which featured Zigi and Manfred's emotional story.

"Of the 110,000 men, women and children who were imprisoned in the [Stutthof] camp during the Holocaust, as many as 65,000 lost their lives – including 28,000 Jews," the message read.

"Together on 27 January, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp, we bear witness for those who endured genocide, and honour the survivors and all those whose lives were changed beyond recognition.
We must never forget. #HMD2021"

MORE: Duchess Kate wears Simone Rocha faux pearl earrings during video call to nurses

The Royal Family shared messages in honour of Holocaust Memorial Day across their social media channels, including Prince Charles, who is the Patron of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust. He recorded a message to open the trust's 2021 virtual commemorative ceremony, taking place today. It will be streamlined here at 7 PM GMT/1 PM EST.

The Prince of Wales said, "This is our time when we can, each in our own way, be the light that ensures the darkness can never return."

In addition to Holocaust Memorial Day on January 27, Israel marks Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), which falls on the 27th day of Nisan in the Jewish calendar every year. It commemorates the six million Jewish people who lost their lives in the Holocaust.

Don't miss a beat with HELLO! Canada's Daily Hits newsletter, your daily dose of royal and celebrity news, fashion, weddings and more. CLICK HERE to sign up for free!