In a remarkably direct statement of acknowledgement the German Football Association, the DFB, has named its former President as playing a role in sending people to the Auschwitz concentration camp. Felix Linnemann who was President from the 1920’s until 1945, was also head of the Hanover Criminal Investigation Department and signed orders to register and transport Roma and Sinti to their deaths at the Auschwitz.
The DFB also say that football under the Nazis was not a force of resistance but was culpable in the crimes committed.
The full statement on the DFB website reads:
“Next Monday, when 75 years to the day will have passed since the liberation of the Auschwitz extermination camp, the ‘Remembrance Day in German Football’ will be held for the 16th time. From the beginning, the Holocaust Memorial Day has been promoted and supported by the German Football Association (DFB). “This year, however, we feel a special responsibility, since in addition to the many Jewish victims, the more than 20,000 Sinti and Roma murdered in Auschwitz are also remembered,” says DFB President Fritz Keller.
This year, however, we feel a special responsibility, since in addition to the many Jewish victims, the more than 20,000 Sinti and Roma murdered in Auschwitz are also remembered,” says DFB President Fritz Keller.
This is because former DFB President Felix Linnemann, who headed the association from 1925 to 1945, was directly involved in the registration of Sinti and Roma as head of the Hanover Criminal Investigation Department, which was the preliminary stage for their deportation to Auschwitz. Several hundred people are said to have been deported to the extermination camp on the basis of an order signed by Linnemann and killed there.
DFB President Keller goes on to say: “This incomprehensible horror, this unprecedented suffering that has been inflicted on people, hurts all the more because football, which today stands for understanding and diversity and against racism and discrimination, did not resist at that time. On the contrary: it was complicit. It is therefore our special duty to ensure that these crimes are never forgotten. Especially today, when not everyone in Germany wants to remember them. We owe this not only to the millions of victims, but also to future generations. It is exemplary and an important signal how Eintracht Frankfurt is facing up to this responsibility this weekend.”