viernes, 1 de junio de 2012

Germany and others at Euro 2012 plan Auschwitz visits

The visit by Germany coach Joachim Loew and some of his players to Auschwitz on Friday will be gesture for tolerance and against racial hatred that other teams at Euro 2012 aim to follow.
"We are aware of the responsibility we have representing Germany when we travel to Poland and Ukraine," Germany team manager Oliver Bierhoff said of the visit by the national federation DFB delegation.
Loew will be accompanied by team captain Philipp Lahm and his two Polish-born team-mates Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski, for the visit to the memorial at the former Nazi extermination camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
The England team, which is to stay in Krakow, had already planned a visit to Auschwitz, about 60 kilometres away, while the Italia and Dutch teams were also planning visits.
In the host countries - the historically-minded Poland and Ukraine - the past casts a long shadow, particularly for German players.
The team visits will be of a private character, with museum officials to avoid any media spectacle at the site where the Nazis killed some 1.3 million people, mostly Jews, during World War II in occupied Poland.
Visitors to the museum in southern Poland during the tournament will also have to leave behind football accessories like team scarves, horns and flags.
For Irving Roth, who survived Auschwitz and also the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany as a 14-year-old from the Czechoslovak town of Kosice, the debate over whether teams should visit the site was superfluous.
"I think everyone should come here," he said.
"Why else do we have symbols of good and evil? To remind ourselves, to learn from them, to ask how that could have happened. Auschwitz was the ultimate killing machine, and these sportsmen should visit the camp in a fully official way."
Bernhard Storch, whose family was murdered by the Nazis, said: "All players, all teams should see this place,"
Storch, who is from Bochnia, near Krakow, but now lives in the United States, added: "They should see it, and they should learn. Nobody will reproach the German players with anything, and I think they will still sleep well and be able to score goals.
"There is nothing here that they should be afraid of. It is very important that they should come here."
Edie, a 17-year-old from Dallas, Texas, who visited Krakow with a Jewish youth group, thinks the visit by Germany players, who are only a few years older, would be important.
"Of course Nazi crimes have nothing to do with them personally! But it's important to pay tribute to the victims and to show we disagree with those who deny the Holocaust."
If the Germany team, with its players of diverse ethnic backgrounds, should visit Auschwitz, that would also be a strong symbol for the "other Germany," says Amid, 24, who is from Israel.
"Current Germany is different and acts differently from Nazi Germany. And if the German national team symbolically honours the victims of Nazi Germany with their visit, this is also a clear gesture for those 'fans' who spread extreme-right and racist slogans in stadiums," he said.
Irving Roth, 83, still remembers well the pain he felt as a nine-year-old for no longer being allowed to play in the local football club because he was a Jew.
A visit to Auschwitz by the German team would also be a call for tolerance, a gesture against hatred of minorities, he said.
"They should not only come to Auschwitz, they should also see Birkenau, where the extermination happened," Roth says with a firm voice.
"And they should meet with a survivor who tells them of that time. I would volunteer to do that!"

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