German, British soccer players to visit Auschwitz

(JTA) — German and British professional soccer players will travel to Auschwitz in separate visits.

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The German national team will travel to Poland on Friday to visit Auschwitz ahead of the Euro 2012 European championships, which will be held in Ukraine and Poland from June 8 to July 1. The team will travel to Poland following a friendly match against Israel.

The German team will be represented by Captain Philipp Lahm, Poland-born players Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski, Coach Joachim Loew, German Football Federation President Wolfgang Niersbach and other officials. Dieter Graumann, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, who proposed the visit and whose grandparents were killed at Auschwitz, will accompany the group.

England’s national team will visit Auschwitz and Oskar Schindler’s factory in Krakow during the tournament, it was announced Tuesday. The Auschwitz visit will be held before the team’s first game on June 11.

before the team leaves for Poland, it also will meet with Holocaust survivors Zigi Shipper, who was liberated from Auschwitz in 1945 and is well known in Britain, and Ben Helfgott, who survived Buchenwald before settling in Britain and becoming a weightlifter on two Olympic teams. 

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 schools and colleges 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, and it’s fantastic that they are so committed to building an educational legacy for young people in schools across England,” Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, told the Independent newspaper.

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