England squad’s visit to Auschwitz marks ongoing partnership
The Football Association (FA) and Holocaust Educational Trust (HET) have entered into a partnership to produce an educational resource on the Holocaust for all secondary schools and colleges in England.
This week, as part of the joint legacy project the senior England squad and staff will hear the testimony of Holocaust survivor Zigi Shipper and also meet with his fellow survivor and weightlifting champion Ben Helfgott MBE, before departing to Poland for the UEFA 2012 European Championship Finals.
Zigi, now aged 82, was sent to the Auschwitz death camp in 1944 before being sent on a death march to the German town of Neustadt, where he was liberated in 1945, aged 15 years old. He now lives in England.
Ben, also 82, was born in Poland and in 1944 was sent with his father to the Buchenwald concentration camp. After being separated from his father he was transported to Czechoslovakia before being liberated by Russian troops. Like Zigi, he was 15. In 1947 he came to the UK and was reunited with his sister. He later represented Britain in the 1956 and 1960 Olympic Games as a weightlifter.
While in Poland, a group of England players, staff and FA executives will visit Auschwitz I and Birkenau with the HET. At the same time, further members of the England squad will also make a visit to Schindler’s Factory in Krakow.
Following both the visit and the Holocaust survivor talk, a joint educational resource for young people will be produced. This DVD resource, created to assist teachers in educating young people about the Holocaust, will feature prominent England players discussing why they felt it was important to learn about our shared history – and why combating prejudice today matters to them.
England, who are based in Krakow in Poland for the duration of the tournament, will visit the site prior to their opening fixture against France, soon after their 6 June arrival date.
The group will sign the museum’s guest book before lighting a candle of remembrance on the train tracks at Birkenau.
FA Chairman, David Bernstein said: “This educational partnership brings together the important work of teaching future generations about the horrors of the Holocaust, using the ability of football to interest and engage young people.
“There are so many lessons to be learnt and understood, and we believe football can play its part in encouraging society to speak out against intolerance in all its forms.
“I am proud that Roy Hodgson and the England team are supporting such an important initiative and I would encourage all English schools to take advantage of the learning materials that will be created.”
Karen Pollock MBE, Chief Executive of the HET, said: “We are delighted to be working closely with the Football Association in facilitating a visit for members of the England squad to Auschwitz-Birkenau. 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.”
Through footage of the England team’s visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau, and with maps, images and archival footage, the DVD will offer a concise introduction to the history of the Holocaust.
All secondary schools and colleges in England and Further Education (FE) colleges, as well as a wider audience through circulation in social and other media, will be engaged with as a result of the project.
The Holocaust is a compulsory topic on the National Curriculum at Key Stage 3, and it is commonly included in GCSE and A-level History courses, as well as in other subject areas such as Citizenship, RS and English.