German Euro 2012 team to visit Auschwitz

German Euro 2012 team to visit Auschwitz

BERLIN - Agence France-Presse
German Euro 2012 team to visit Auschwitz

Philipp Lahm. REUTERS Photo

A delegation from the German Football Federation (DFB) will visit the former Nazi death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland tomorrow following their friendly international against Israel.

Germany hosts the friendly in Leipzig today and the DFB delegation, including senior players, will visit the historic site, 70km west of Krakow, the following day, it was confirmed yesterday.

The group will include DFB president Wolfgang Niersbach, Germany head coach Joachim Löw and team manager Oliver Bierhoff, as well as captain Philipp Lahm, plus Poland-born stars Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski.

“The subject of the Holocaust and Auschwitz has occupied us again and again and has been discussed with the players,” said Bierhoff from Germany’s training camp in the south of France.

“This is not a PR event,” he added.

“This is not a visit by the national team, but by the German Football Federation.”

Löw’s squad has already attended lectures on modern German history ahead of the tournament to be hosted by Poland and Ukraine.

Lahm said it was important for the German squad to visit the site of previous Nazi atrocities having personally visited the Dachau concentration camp near Munich. “I have been to Dachau and have already experienced a visit like this,” he said.

“This is an important symbol from our side.

“We need to show that we know our history and we must take ownership of our past responsibilities, even if our generation is not responsible.”

The group will be accompanied by Dr Charlotte Knobloch, president of the Jewish community of Munich and Upper Bavaria, plus Germany’s ambassador to Poland, Ruediger Freiherr von Fritsch.

Both the England and Italy squads for the European Championship are also planning to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau during the tournament which starts on June 8 with the final in Kiev on July 1.

The Germany squad travel to their Euro 2012 base in Gdansk, Poland, next week and open their Group B campaign against Portugal on June 9 in Lviv, Ukraine.