Eriksson takes his team to Auschwitz site

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Members of the England football team, with their manager Sven Goran Eriksson, visited the site of the Auschwitz Nazi death camp in Poland yesterday.

Members of the England football team, with their manager Sven Goran Eriksson, visited the site of the Auschwitz Nazi death camp in Poland yesterday.

About 15 players, including captain David Beckham and striker Michael Owen, accompanied by a number of officials and support staff, spent about 90 minutes touring the museum and the camp, where some of the original gas chambers used to exterminate hundreds of thousands of Jews still remain.

The site is about an hour's drive from Katowice, where the team play Poland in a World Cup qualifying game tonight.

The Football Association said the visit had been a private one, made at the request of some of the players and staff. The group were taken on the team coach and toured the site. Several members of the 22-strong squad chose not to go, having visited the camp when on a trip to Poland for an England Under-21 match a few years ago.

An FA spokesman said : "I think the players found the visit to Auschwitz a very powerful experience."

Eriksson said afterwards: "I have never been there before and I was very happy that a lot of players asked if they could go. There were a lot of players there, together with staff and coaches and so on. I don't know if an enriching experience is the right word or not, but it was certainly an experience that I will always remember."

The trip continues a tradition of players making the most of their journeys abroad. During a trip to South Africa for a friendly last year, several players and staff responded to an invitation to meet Nelson Mandela. The occasion was sullied by criticism of those who chose not to go, claiming tiredness.

Auschwitz-Birkenau was the biggest of the Nazi concentration camps and is seen as the most graphic symbol of the Holocaust. First established in 1940 as an SS camp, it later became the focus of the plan to exterminate all the Jews of Europe. At its peak, it consisted of three linked camps. It is estimated that between one and one and a half million people transported there died in its gas chambers, the vast majority of whom were Jewish.

Although the SS attempted to destroy evidence of their crimes by blowing up gas chambers and crematoria when they fled from the advancing Russians in January 1945, large sections of the site remained.

Comments