German football association in Auschwitz row

Updated: March 23, 2012

Die Deutscher Fußball-Bund (DFB) – the German Football Association has gotten involved in an argument with Jewish organisations as to whether or not the German national team should visit Auschwitz during Euro 2012.

The Central Council of Jews has called on Germany to “demonstrate their historical responsibility” and to travel to the former Nazi concentration camp in the southern Polish city. Poland are of course, along with Ukraine, hosting the European Championships in the summer. The head of the aforementioned Central Council of Jews, Dieter Graumann, has in fact said that it would be “inconceivable” for the Germans not to visit the site where Nazis killed 1.2million Jews during World War Two.

Graumann has told German media that by visiting Auschwitz the German national team would “be showing the whole world that they are prepared to carry a certain amount of responsibility on their shoulders for what happened,” – a rather odd statement to make of people (German footballers) who were born decades after the Holocaust ended.

The DFB has so far been unwilling to commit to what actions they will take to commemorate the genocide at Auschwitz with Oliver Bierhoff, the team’s (public relations) manager and former national team player stating: “Of course we’ll be dealing with this topic with the players, but what form this will take has not been finally decided upon.”

Not all high profile Jewish-German commentators have backed the Central Council of Jews’ stance, with some stating that Graumann’s statements are “impractical” and that if German players want to visit the concentration camp of their own accord and away from the cameras, then they should be allowed to do so. The fact that the German national team are set to be based in the city of Danzig – more than 500km from Auschwitz – for the duration of Euro 2012 would seem to add credence to the argument that a visit to the site of the genocide by would be impractical for Die Mannschaft.

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