Holocaust Memorial 202024 January 2020

FootballclubsandsupportersinEuropewilljoinmillionsacrosstheworldtomarkInternationalHolocaustMemorialDay.

The activities take place before and during matches over the coming two weeks. This year the commemorations have added resonance, marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and the defeat of the biggest ideology of hate the world has seen.

STAND UP

One of the most moving initiatives uses the stars of English football. The Stand Up film produced by the UK National Holocaust Centre and Museum has a quietly told but powerful message from  some of the biggest names in the Premier League. Their message asks us to Stand Together against hate and discrimination.

The DFB (German FA) has published a remarkably statement of acknowledgement in events at Auschwitz naming the involvement of their President at the time in the deportations and death of Roma and Sinti.

!NIE WIEDER SAYS GERMANY

The DFB statement comes as they join the Bundesliga, football supporters and others across the German footballing pyramid to prepare for the annual Remembrance Day in German Football which goes back to a cross-club initiative of football fans, founded in 2004 at the Dachau memorial site.

Each year the !Nie Wieder initiative gets support from across the German football league system with clubs in the Bundesliga, the DFL Bundesliga, DFL 2 and DFB 3 and fans organising activities from commemorations, to educational sessions and fan demonstrations.

Amongst the clubs promoting their involvement are FC Bayern Munich who will be “taking part in a campaign to remember the crimes of National Socialism and send out a signal against all current forms of racism and discrimination in German football” in the build-up to Sunday’s home match against VfB Stuttgart.

Also in Munich, in the German third division, TSV 1860 Munich have already held a commemoration. Together with their fan project they visited Auschwitz laying a wreath for all victims.

CHELSEA LEAD THE WAY

In the Premier League the Chelsea FC Say No to Anti-Semitism campaign has been applauded for the depth of its work. The club launched a mural earlier this month commemorating players lost in the holocaust and a British prisoner of war. The campaign which includes the club joining the March of the Living, international fundraising matches, and player messaging, continues this weekend.

West Ham Utd have announced they will commemorate the holocaust before their match with Liverpool this weekend. They have become the second club in England after Chelsea to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism.

MEMORIAL DAY, ITALY

In Italy, Memorial Day activities using sport take place across the country organised by public institutions, NGOs and community groups. They include runs, walking or cycling tours and celebration of the life of Jewish sports people.

A new book about the famous Hungarian football coach Árpád Weisz, widely regarded one of the greatest coaches of the thirties, who first introduced many aspects of modern Italian coaching and was the Technical Director of Inter Milan, Novara Calcio and Bologna, until he was expelled from Italy along with his wife and two children, killed in Auschwitz. His life story has been celebrated by Inter in previous years, it ensures as a symbol of the impact of Italian puppet state during the war years.

3-4-3 Destination Auschwitz a play celebrating Árpád Weisz will open in the city of Imperia, Liguria. The play relates elements of his life, the Leggi razziali (racial laws) introduced by Mussolini, and a history of football of the era.

Many of local and city-wide events are organised by small associations and groups. One of the key organisers is the Fare partner UISP, the Italian Sport For All Association. The year their affiliates in Bologna, Torino, Roma will be active throughout the period.

In Livorno, on the coast of Tuscany, the Run for Memory will take place on Sunday 26th, organized by the Union of Italian Jewish Communities in collaboration with the Jewish Community of Livorno.

In Bologna the Run for Memory will start as “a race through places of memory to remember the Holocaust”. The sites will include Roma and Gyspy victims of the holocaust, those that were extinguished because they were gay, the dead of the Jewish school, and a synagogue where a tombstone to Jewish deportees is erected.

In Roma the FIAB Roma Ruotalibera holds its annual Cycling in Memory tour. The event is “born from the need to make new generations more involved and aware of what took place in Rome during the Second World War”. 

By cycling to places of memory and hearing the experiences and stories of individuals they aim to “know, recognise and fight old and new discrimination”.

The Italian FA (the FIGC) joined an event with the Sports Ministry and others to offer a strong and unified message in response to “the invitation of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities for an even stronger commitment in the fight against racism and anti-Semitism in stadiums”.