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German, English Soccer Teams to Visit Auschwitz

Players and officials will visit death camp in Poland before European Championship

By: Sammy Hudes

Published: May 30th, 2012 in Culture » Society » News

German, English Soccer Teams to Visit Auschwitz

German and British soccer delegations will each separately visit the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland ahead of the European Championship, which is set to begin June 8.

Following an exhibition match with Israel in Leipzig the previous day, the German team will arrive in Poland on Friday, according to the Associated Press.

German captain Philipp Lahm, Poland-born players Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski, Coach Joachim Loew, German Football Federation president Wolfgang Niersbach and other officials will tour the death camp along with Dieter Graumann, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany.

Graumann, whose grandparents were killed at Auschwitz, initially proposed the visit according to the JTA.

The German team, based in the Polish city of Gdansk, will face Portugal, Netherlands and Denmark in the group stage of the tournament, which is co-hosted by Ukraine.

The English national team will also visit Auschwitz, in addition to Oskar Schindler's factory in Krakow, where their training base is located.

Before heading to Poland, the team will meet with Zigi Shipper, a well-known Holocaust survivor in England, who was liberated from Auschwitz in 1945. They will also meet Ben Helfgott, who survived Buchenwald who later settled in England and became a weightlifter on two Olympic teams.

The British players will visit Auschwitz on June 11, before the team’s first game.

The visit is part of a partnership between the British Football Association and Holocaust Educational Trust, which was formed to produce an educational resource on the Holocaust for secondary and post-secondary school students in England.

"It is a credit to our national team that they have set aside time to pay their respects to those who died during the Holocaust,” Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, told the Independent newspaper.

“It’s fantastic that they are so committed to building an educational legacy for young people in schools across England.”

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