UEFA Euros 2024 attendees pause soccer trip to learn Holocaust history


English soccer fans and members of the Football Association (FA) visiting Germany for a match between the two historic rivals visited the site of the Bergen-Belson Memorial site on Monday, in a trip organized by the Cultural Foundation of the German Football Association and the World Jewish Congress, and WhatMatters as part of the “Football and Remembrance” initiative.

The soccer fans were in Germany for the UEFA Euros 2024. While they might have come for the match, they were given the opportunity to learn how their beloved sport is connected to Nazi Germany and the Holocaust.

The tour also featured a moving wreath-laying ceremony. Board of Deputies of British Jews Vice President Andrew Gilbert recited Kaddish at the obelisk memorial on the grounds of the former Nazi camp.

Who participated in the trip?

Participants included the UK Government’s Independent Advisor on Antisemitism, Lord John Mann, officials from The English FA and Maccabi UK.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, his wife Elke Buedenbender, Israel’s President Isaac Herzog and his wife Michal Herzog visit the memorial site of the former WWII concentration camp Bergen-Belsen in Lohheide, Germany, September 6, 2022. (credit: FABIAN BIMMER / REUTERS)

The initiative “Football and Remembrance” launched ahead of the tournament, and sought to familiarize UEFA EURO 2024 attendees with the history of the Holocaust through visits to local Nazi historical sites.

In addition to the above initiative, the World Jewish Congress supported a public exhibit, “Sports. Crowds. Power.” at the Sports Museum on the grounds of the 1936 Summer Olympics, when the Nazis were in power. The site is adjacent to Berlin’s Olympic Stadium which will host the finals of this summer’s tournament.

“Sports. Crowds. Power.” explored the role of sports under National Socialism and delved into how the Nazis manipulated sports to consolidate power, the tragic impact of the Holocaust on European Jewish athletes and sporting clubs, and the contemporary role of sports in combating antisemitism.

Members of the public will be able to attend the exhibit until its conclusion at the end of July.

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