GDANSK, Poland – Britain’s Prince William and his wife Kate were guided by two Holocaust survivors around the site of a former Nazi German concentration camp in Poland on Tuesday and then visited the historic city of Gdansk.
The royal couple is on a goodwill trip to Poland and Germany aimed at underscoring Britain’s intention to maintain friendly relations with the European Union after it leaves the bloc.
They flew to northern Poland on Tuesday from Warsaw, where they and their children were staying at the Belvedere Palace.
At the Stutthof museum they were guided by two survivors of the camp, Manfred Goldberg and Zigi Shipper, both 87, from north London. The royals were shown discarded shoes, clothing and other personal items that were seized from the inmates on arrival at Stutthof. They were also shown the gas chamber where those too sick to work were killed.
The couple paid their respects to the victims by placing remembrance stones at the Jewish memorial.
“I could clearly see that they were deeply moved by what they saw and heard here,” museum director Piotr Tarnowski said.
The German Nazis set up the Stutthof camp right after invading Poland in September 1939. Out of some 110,000 inmates of various nationalities, as many as 65,000 died in the gas chambers or from disease, hunger, hard labor or during evacuations. Some 28,000 of the victims were Jewish.
Later, the royal couple traveled to nearby Gdansk, on the Baltic coast, where they shook hands with a welcoming crowd among the city’s Gothic and Renaissance architecture. They tasted traditional Polish pierogi — pastry stuffed with meat — and Goldwasser herbal liqueur that contains tiny flakes of gold.
Next, they visited a replica of a Shakespearean theater, whose patron is William’s father, Prince Charles, and where performances are held regularly.
Their last stop in Gdansk was the European Center of Solidarity, where they met former president and democracy champion Lech Walesa and other leader of the Solidarity movement of the 1980s that brought about the peaceful ouster of communism.
Walesa walked with the royal couple to the nearby monument to the striking Gdansk shipyard workers who were shot by the military in 1970, where they laid roses in Poland’s national colors of white and red.
In the evening, they flew to Warsaw. On Wednesday they head for Berlin.