Germany squad urged to honour Holocaust victims

The Germany squad for June's Euro 2012, to be co-hosted by Poland and the Ukraine, has been urged to visit one of those countries' Holocaust memorials by the chairman of Germany's Central Council for Jews.

Updated: March 08, 2012 12:17 IST
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Berlin: The Germany squad for June's Euro 2012, to be co-hosted by Poland and the Ukraine, has been urged by the chairman of Germany's Central Council for Jews to visit one of the host countries' Holocaust memorials.

Germany will be based in the Polish city of Gdansk for Euro 2012, which starts on June 8, and Dieter Graumann, the chairman of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, says the team must pay their respects to the Holocaust's victims.

Anti-Semitism has recently hit the headlines here after Kaiserslautern's Israel striker Itay Shechter was the victim of a verbal attack by a group of the club's fans ten days ago following a heavy German league defeat.

"The Shechter case made headlines in Israel," Graumann, 61, told German magazine Sport Bild.

"So it is important for the German Football Federation (DFB) and the national team to set a mark.

"I find it inconceivable that the Germans would not visit the Holocaust memorial at Auschwitz or Babi Yar.

"It would send a disastrous signal to the world if the Germans did not visit a memorial. The young players do not carry the blame, but they do have a responsibility."

More than a million Jews were murdered by the Nazis at the death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, which is 70 kilometres from Krakow - around 570km from the Germans's base in Gdansk.

In the ravine at Babi Yar, near the Ukrainian capital Kiev which hosts the Euro 2012 final on July 1, SS soldiers massacred more than 33,000 Jews in late September 1941 during a single operation.

The England team, which is based in Krakow, have said they will visit Auschwitz to pay their respects and DFB president Wolfgang Niersbach says the Germans are looking into a similar visit.

"We have been dealing with the issue for some time and are considering travelling with a delegation to Auschwitz," he said.

Niersbach said the DFB are looking at ways to pay a fitting tribute combined with the team's preparations for the tournament.

Team manager Oliver Bierhoff has said that sporting needs must take priority given the distances involved, but they are working to find a compromise.

"We will deal sensitively with the issue before announcing anything, because we do not want to be behind claims that it had been just a public relations stunt," he said.

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  • Itay Shechter
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