IAK :: Erinnern an gestern, Verantwortung für morgen

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Open letter to the members of the Dutch, the English and the Italian football team on their visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau

Dear young players,
dear representatives of the National Football Associations,

Tomorrow and on Friday, you will be visiting the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial. You will see the place which, like almost no other, symbolises the murder of Jewish families in Europe, of Sinti and Roma, of Polish people, of Soviets prisoners of war and many political prisoners: a crime scene, a cemetery, a memorial.  

At that time, many of the victims were as old as you are today. And many of the perpetrators were young people too. The language of the murderers was German.  

You are not alone in your visit. Each year more than 1.5 million people from many countries around the world visit the Memorial. Almost 70 per cent of them are under 26 years of age – just like many of you. Your visit is an important signal for the survivors from many countries, organized in the International Auschwitz Committee. The survivors don’t want this place to sink into silence. Instead, they want the voices especially of young people to be heard there. Your presence and your questions provide vital proof that the world is not yielding to the cold-hearted chill of indifference and forgetfulness.  

Tell your fans about what you have seen and felt in Auschwitz, and what this visit has given you for the future: your strength to influence is significant. And you know what today’s world looks like: there is intolerance, anti-Semitism and hatred towards minorities – not just in the sport stadiums.  

This is an important visit for you – to a place that makes people’s hearts beat faster, a place where we all look ourselves in the face.  

Wishing you all the very best,
and good luck in the European Football Championship!     

 

Christoph Heubner
Executive Vice President
International Auschwitz Committee