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Shedding light on Auschwitz suffering through the eyes of a survivor

Published: 25 January 2018Origin: Humanities
Zigi Shipper
Marcus and Auschwitz survivor Zigi Shipper

When postgraduate student Marcus Clack (MA History, 2017) began his dissertation, little did he know it would not only secure him a distinction, but also result in forming a close bond with a survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Having studied the Holocaust for eight years, Marcus wanted to use his final piece to shed light on the suffering of women as well as men, whom he argued had been marginalised from gendered analyses of the concentration camp experience.

As part of his research Marcus managed to contact survivor Zigi Shipper and, through a series of interviews, formed a close bond with him.

The fact Marcus, 23, was even able to complete his masters degree was helped by the generosity of alumna Sue Wilson who each year offers bursaries to humanities students to help support them during their studies.

 “As one of the baby boomers, born shortly after the end of the second world war, I recognise that the lessons of history are vitally important in helping to prevent humankind from repeating the genocidal atrocities of previous generations.” says Sue. 

“I am, therefore, extremely gratified that my scholarship programme has contributed to enabling important research to be carried out which enlightens our understanding of the experience of men and women in Auschwitz.

“Work such as Marcus’s deserves our support and appreciation, and I am very proud to be connected with it.”

Marcus said he owed a debt of gratitude to Sue, as without the bursary he would not have been able to take on his masters following his undergraduate degree in History at the University of Southampton.

He says: “I was drawn to Southampton because of the amazing resources here, including the library at the Parkes Institute, and was very keen on furthering my studies here.

“I really was only able to take on the masters and commit to it fully thanks to the bursary. I really wanted to devote my energies to it without having to worry about the debt or take on a job to pay for my living expenses.

“I was over the moon with my final mark, but what I have taken from the experience was having the honour of meeting Zigi, who was so generous with his time.

“For me, having studied the Holocaust for so long, meeting a survivor was an incredible experience; one that I will never forget, and made possible through my time at Southampton and the bursary I was given.”

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