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May 30, 2012 10:32 am

English National Soccer Team Prepares for Auschwitz Visit

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March of the Living at Auschwitz. Photo: Yossi Selliger.

England’s national soccer team will visit Auschwitz when they arrive in Poland to compete in the Euro 2012 tournament next week.

The team’s visit to the Nazi death camp will take place between June 6th, when the team arrives, and June 9th, when they take on France in their first matchup of the tournament. Members of England’s national team will light candles on the train tracks leading into Auschwitz, and will sign the guest book there.

“There are so many lessons to be learned and understood, and we believe football can play its part in encouraging society to speak out against intolerance in all its forms,” said David Bernstein, Chairman of England’s soccer association.

The visit is being undertaken in conjuction with a partnership between the FA (the governing body of English soccer) and the Holocaust Educational Trust.

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“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,” Bernstein said.

Players from the English club will also visit Oskar Schindler’s factory in Poland, where over a thousand Jews were saved from the Nazis.

“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,” said Karen Pollack, CEO of the Holocaust Educational Trust.

The visit will not include any flags, or other football gear, as such items have been banned from the grounds for the duration of Eurocup.

“It would be in an atmosphere of respect and remembrance for the victims of the concentration camp and in the kind of quiet and calm that is more conducive to discovering the history of the camp,” said Auschwitz-Birkenau museum press officer Pawel Sawicki.

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