Euros fans to attend Holocaust exhibit in 1936 Olympic stadium that Hitler built

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Euros fans to attend Holocaust exhibit in 1936 Olympic stadium that Hitler built

The display - which opens this week - will run throughout football's European Championships in Germany this summer

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

Vienna HaKoah football shirt
Vienna HaKoah football shirt

An exhibition on the Nazi persecution of Jewish athletes is to held run throughout next month’s European Football Championships in the grounds of the Olympic Stadium which Hitler built to stage the 1936 Berlin Games.

Sports, Crowds, Power, is a joint project of the World Jewish Congress, the Berlin Sports museum and the group What Matters, which works to combat antisemitism and racism in sport.

Sited at the Haus des Deutschen Sports (itself originally a Nazi construct) inside the Olympic complex, the exhibition shows how sport was used to create a common identity in Germany, and how it was leveraged as punishment in concentration camps. Cory Weiss, from the WJC, said that there would also be stories of pre-Holocaust Jewish football clubs “and how the Nazis’ racial ideology led to their destruction and the persecution and murder of athletes”.

At the same time, a travelling exhibition Football and Remembrance – organised by What Matters and the World Jewish Congress in co-operation with the cultural arm of the German Football Association – will make its way to the 10 host cities where the European Championships will be played. Football fans will be encouraged to visit memorials, places of remembrance and museums to learn about the interwoven history of sports facilities and places of Nazi persecution and to hear about the lives and suffering of sportsmen and women who were persecuted.

Under the umbrella of Football and Remembrance, Lord Mann, the UK government’s independent antisemitism adviser, is working with What Matters to offer England fans the opportunity to visit the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, liberated by British forces in April 1945.

He said: “We’ve worked closely with What Matters for many years. Together with them and the [English] Football Association, which is putting money into this initiative, there will be a free coach — or coaches — for England supporters and some FA officials to go to Bergen-Belsen.”

Visitors will travel to the former concentration camp on Monday June 17, the day after England play Serbia in their first Euro Champions fixture. “At Bergen-Belsen we will be looking at football and the Holocaust, as well as the camp itself and its liberation by British forces,” Lord Mann said.

Lord Mann delivers recent speech on antisemitism in football to anti-racism charity Kick It Out

Participation in the visit will be organised through the England Travel Club. Those attending will be guided through the camp by an expert from the Bergen-Belsen education centre. Lord Mann added that he hoped any Jewish England supporters attending the championships would contact him on mannjl@parliament.ukdirectly if they would like to join the visit.

The championships run from June 14 to the final on July 14. “If England get to the final,” Lord Mann said, “they will be playing in Berlin for the first time. We are looking at doing something [on antisemitism] in Berlin around the final.”

Scotland will be playing in Dortmund and the Scottish sports minister, Maree Todd, is due to visit and see what is being done there to combat antisemitism.

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