"We were intensely moved by our visit"
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Stutthof visit leaves the couple ‘shattered’…
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are currently two days into their jam-packed tour of Poland and Germany. Throughout the five-day trip, Kate and William have a busy schedule of official engagements, visits and events. However their most recent engagement left them both ‘shattered’ and “intensely moved”.
Before they embarked on the tour, Kensington Palace announced that the couple’s visit would “encompass cultural and geographic highlights of both countries” and that the couple would, “take time during the tour to acknowledge the complex 20th century history of each country.”
Kate and Prince William have already begun fulfilling this promise, meeting survivors of the atrocities committed in Poland in the last century at both the Warsaw Rising Museum and the Stutthof Concentration Camp.
After their tour of the Warsaw Rising Museum – dedicated to the 1944 attempt by the Polish resistance Home Army to liberate Warsaw – on their first day, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were humbled to meet Major Marian Słowiński and Colonel Edmund Brzozowski, members of the Polish Army and Resistance during World War II. They also took the time to visit the Wall of Remembrance and say a prayer for those who lost their lives in the Uprising.
However, it was their visit to the former Nazi German Concentration Camp Stutthof that really moved the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who were both visibly affected by their time there.
The camp, which is located in northern Poland, was the first Nazi concentration camp set up in Poland in 1939, and was one of the last to be liberated in 1945.
110,000 people were imprisoned in Stutthof, 65,000 of whom died as a result of executions and appalling conditions.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were given a tour of the camp, which now serves as a museum and a reminder of the atrocities that were committed there.
After their tour of the site, the royal couple met with former Stutthof prisoners who spoke to The Duke and Duchess about their experiences of the camp.
For survivors Zigi Shipper and Manfred Goldberg, their trip to Stutthof to meet the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge was their first time revisiting the camp since they were freed in the 1940s. Their incredible stories of survival visibly moved Kate and Prince William, who said they were shattered by what they had seen and learnt during their visit.
Mr Goldberg, 87, who was initially reluctant to make the trip to Poland, called the day a “seismic event”. The deeply emotional day brought back a “flood of painful memories” for the survivor, who has been friends with Mr Shipper ever since they helped each other survive their time in the camp at the age of just 15.
At the end of their time visiting the camp, Kate and Prince William took the time to write in the camp’s guestbook.
Their heartfelt and poignant message read: “We were intensely moved by our visit to Stutthof, which has been the scene of so much terrible pain, suffering and death.
“This shattering visit has reminded us of the horrendous murder of six million Jews, drawn from across the whole of Europe, who died in the abominable Holocaust.”
They added: “It is, too, a terrible reminder of the cost of war. And the fact that Poland alone lost millions of its people, who were the victims of a most brutal occupation.
“All of us have an overwhelming responsibility to make sure that we learn the lessons and that the horror of what happened is never forgotten and never repeated.”