KAREN POLLOCK CBE
CEO Holocaust Educational Trust
The Holocaust and Football – Karen Pollock CBE
On the 2nd January 1900, as the world welcomed a new century, a Jewish boy named Józef Klotz was born in Kraków, Poland. Like many young boys he shared a dream, to play football for his country. In May 1922, aged 22, that dream came true. In the 27th minute of the game, Klotz put away a penalty kick in the team's third international match, against Sweden in Stockholm. Poland went on to win the game 2-1. It was the first ever goal Poland scored in international football. He was one of Poland’s original football stars.
Just 19 years later, Klotz was murdered in the Warsaw Ghetto, one of three million Jewish Poles to die in the Holocaust and one of the six million Jewish men, women, and children to be murdered by the Nazis.
The Nazis brutally and systematically persecuted all Jews – patriotism or national heroism made no difference when it came to the Nazis abhorrent views on race. Those who had served their country just two decades earlier in the First World War, those who had represented their country at the highest level of football, those who viewed themselves as just an average law-abiding citizen – all were brutally murdered for the supposed crime of being Jewish. Many of those who could have fled stayed, believing their service to their country would save them – they were wrong.
Before the Second World War, football played an important role in European Jewish life, as it did for non-Jews. Jewish teams competed in the top divisions of several European countries, including Austria, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. Jewish footballers played for major teams, both Jewish and non-Jewish, including teams which still lead the field like Ajax, and represented many countries in international football, including Austria, Germany, Hungary and Poland.
Perhaps the highest profile footballing victim of the Holocaust was Árpád Weisz, a Hungarian Jewish football manager who was the most successful coach in Italian football in the 1930s, when he won the league with Inter Milan and Bologna, clubs which are still renowned today. Like 300,000 of his fellow Jewish Hungarians, he was murdered by the Nazi regime. He was transported from the Netherlands to Auschwitz via Westerbork, and never returned. He survived 18 months of slave labour before he died, his family having been gassed on arrival.
His teammate, Béla Guttmann, was one of a small number of those who survived the Holocaust by hiding in Budapest. He was hidden in an attic by his non-Jewish girlfriend, and then escaped through a window from a forced labour camp, escaping the deportation to Auschwitz that befell so many Hungarian Jews. After the war, he became a manager with many of Europe’s most successful clubs, including AC Milan and Porto. At Benefica, he guided them to their only two European Cups, in 1961 and 1962.
The history of the Holocaust is one of individuals, some of whom survived, but most of whom did not. Football unites people from different backgrounds and countries with a shared desire to win for their team. It is the deep shame of the history of football and the Holocaust. Ultimately when it came to it, the Jewish football star was regarded as ‘other’ and lesser and so deported, imprisoned, and murdered.
As we look back, 75 years after the end of the Second World War, and the liberation of the concentration and death camps, we remember that lost generation, slaughtered because they were Jewish, and imagine what they could have contributed to this world. We pay tribute to the survivors such as Guttmann, who somehow managed to rebuild and transform their lives. And we remember Klotz, Weisz, their families and communities, and in their names, fight antisemitism, racism and prejudice today, wherever it rears its head.
Karen Pollock CBE is a British writer, activist and chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust (HET). She was awarded an MBE in 2012 New Year Honours for services to education, specifically about the Holocaust and a CBE in the 2020 Birthday Honours.
To honor the legacy of Julius Hirsch, the Julius Hirsch Prize is annualy awarded by the German Football Association (DFB) to initiatives working against racism and antisemitism.
Unfortunately, I never had the chance to meet my grandfather, Julius Hirsch. He was murdered in Auschwitz before I was born. From my aunt, his daughter Esther, I know that he was a kind man who was passionate about football.
Already as a 10-year-old, my grandfather joined the Karlsruhe football club in Germany and this would become the starting point for his career as a professional football player in Germany. Julius was only 17 when he was appointed to play for the Karlsruhe first team, together with his team-mates – they won the German championship in 1910. The entire Hirsch family was proud when Julius went on to play for the German national team. This was significant on many levels, not least as he was the first Jewish player to play for the German national team.
Julius was called a wunderkind and became known as one of the country's best attackers.
When WW1 broke out, Julius drafted for the army, served his country and was decorated with the Iron Cross for his service.
He was a hero, both in sports and for the nation.
How quickly that changed.
Monday morning, April 10th, 1933, Julius Hirsch opened the newspaper only to learn that he had been expelled from his own football club, together with all other Jewish members. This was just the beginning of the years of persecution which followed in every aspect of his life, and ultimately led to his death.
As the National Socialists gained popularity and Hitler took power, it no longer mattered that you were a national sport hero or that you had risked your life at war for your country – all that mattered was that you were Jewish.
In a letter to his football club, Julius sent a final letter:
"Today I read in the “Stuttgart Sports Report” that the major clubs, including the KFV, have made a decision, that Jews should be removed from the sports clubs. Unfortunately, I must now announce my resignation from my dear KFV with a heavy heart, a club to which I have belonged since 1902.
"I do not wish to leave unmentioned the fact that in this bully of a German nation, which is so hated today, there are still decent people and perhaps even more German Jews whose national loyalty is both evident in the way they think and proven by their deeds and the lifeblood they have shed.”
On March 1st 1943, Julius was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Although his name was never recorded at the camp, today’s literature assumes that those who were murdered in the gas chambers on arrival were never registered in the books. They were intended to be forgotten. The exact date of Julius Hirsch's death at the hands of the Nazi party has remained unknown.
The life and death of my grandfather teaches us that this can happen to anyone. A hero of war, a famous football player. If we let antisemitism and racism grow – anyone can become a victim. It is therefore our duty, to always stand up against antisemitism, racism and hate.
Andreas Hirsch, Grandson of Julius Hirsch
To honor the legacy of Julius Hirsch, the Julius Hirsch Prize is annually awarded to initiatives working against racism and antisemitism.
President of Israel
This book, honouring Jewish sportsmen and women whose lives were taken from them during the Holocaust while focusing on raising awareness about the evils of antisemitism in general and in sport in particular, highlights issues very close to my heart.
As a proud Jew and president of the only Jewish State in the world, I, along with all members of the Jewish people, are deeply aware of the terrible results that can arise from the scourge of antisemitism. At its very worst, it led to the horrors of the Holocaust during the Second World War that took the lives of six million of our people and damaged the lives of many more. Sadly, today, more than seventy years on, we are again witnessing a rise in incidents of antisemitism and of poisonous anti-Jewish rhetoric throughout the western world.
The efforts of the Chelsea Football Club, through the Chelsea Foundation's Building Bridges Campaign, to raise awareness of the evils of anti-semitism and other forms of racism in sport are therefore particularly welcome. As an avid football fan since childhood, I was pleased to be able to promote a programme to combat all forms of racism in sports in Israel as part of the President's Office's flagship Israeli Hope project, and so was especially moved to read of the "Say No to antisemitism" Programme being led by Chelsea Football Club.
Now, this programme has given birth to the painstaking research that has led to the production of this book and virtual exhibition that honour and perpetuate the memories of the many Jewish sportsmen and women who perished during the Holocaust.
I am sure that this book and exhibition will make a valuable contribution to raising awareness of the terrible consequences to anti-semitism and racism, and of the huge importance of tolerance and diversity in sports.
Fighting Hate Through ADL Israel’s ‘A League of Respect’
From players and coaches to spectators and parents, the competitive sports community in Israel reflects the nation’s true diversity, encompassing all races, faiths, sexual orientations and socio-economic backgrounds. Despite these differences, Israelis unite in their passion for sports. However, this unity is often challenged when deeply rooted divisions in Israeli society spill onto the field. While Israeli sports may not experience antisemitism in the way that other countries do, there are still other forms of sports-related bigotry and discrimination which need to be addressed.
ADL, a leading US-based anti-hate organization dedicated to protecting the Jewish people and securing justice and fair treatment for all, has a strong history of collaboration with the sports community. In 2007, ADL and the NBA launched the "RESPECT–It's the Way to Play" campaign. In October 2017, ADL announced the establishment of a National Sports Leadership Council, created in partnership with well-known athletes, team owners and league presidents to promote positive social change in sports, while combating hatred, bullying and discrimination in society.
Over the past few years, ADL Israel has joined forces with several partners in an effort to use soccer as a platform to bring people closer together to address discrimination and disrespect in soccer pitches across Israel. The most significant initiative is a LEAGUE OF RESPECT - a nation-wide initiative launched in 2018 which seeks to work holistically with soccer clubs around Israel towards lasting change. The basic assumption of the LEAGUE OF RESPECT is simple: in order to make a profound and sustainable change in any soccer club, all shareholders should be involved, from the club owner and management, to coaches, the youth players and their parents. Each has a unique role to play, which can create a ripple effect by spreading throughout the broader society at large.
The first soccer club which embraced this opportunity was Beitar Jerusalem. The need for this effort stemmed from problematic elements of Beitar’s fan base, including the far-right La Familia group, that frequently engaged in anti-Arab and Islamophobic activities both during matches and outside them. The club’s owner, Moshe Hogeg, announced his full commitment to the endeavor, and ADL was proud to have facilitated workshops for their young players, coaches and parents. This cooperation was just one out of several steps taken by the Beitar management, reflecting Hogeg’s efforts to address racist behavior by fans, promote atmosphere of respect in the club, invest in the youth department and change the club’s public image.
As this first phase has proven successful, ADL Israel has begun reaching out to other soccer clubs and cooperating with other major players in the sports field, including the Israel Football Association. We are also exploring the option of working with referees, who are often the target of verbal and physical abuse from both fans and players.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has paused all trainings and projects, we hope to resume and expand the initiative once the pandemic passes. With conflicts and divisions heightened during the pandemic, this type of initiative is of particular importance for Israeli society.
Quite often the news we hear from Israel focuses on rifts and disagreements between individuals and groups. But it is also important to focus on the promising and inspiring efforts taking place within Israeli society. ADL is proud to be part of this important effort in collaboration with our partners who are all eager to make a difference in the lives of millions of Israelis.
Dr. Sharon Nazarian is the Senior Vice President, International Affairs for the Anti-Defamation League.
Holocaust Survivor, Honorary President, ’45 Aid Society and President, Holocaust Memorial Day Trust
When I came to Britain after the Holocaust, people assumed I would never achieve normality, let alone Olympic success. Between the ages of nine and fifteen I was a victim of Nazi persecution. I had to endure and to witness what Winston Churchill referred to as "horrors and miseries beyond human experience". I survived the bombings; the random killings; the round-ups; the filthy conditions in the ghetto; the selections and deportations to the gas chambers; the harsh regimen in the labour camps and I thought that I had reached the limit of my endurance. In retrospect, it is difficult to comprehend how anyone could have survived such inhuman and unbearable conditions. As a youngster I was repelled by this evil. Like many others, I did not think of revenge, but I dreamed of a day when I would once again be free and would be able to tell how human beings are capable of behaving with appalling cruelty towards each other. It was a resolution from which I never wavered.
I know how effective example can be. As a young boy of twelve, under Nazi persecution, I was sent to work in a glass factory in my home town of Piotrkow in Poland. The man in charge of my work unit was called Mr Janota. He was merciless. He beat me constantly on the first day when I started work. Three weeks later, my father was in the house of one of the Poles who helped him smuggle flour into the ghetto, when Janota came in. When my father recognized his name he asked why Janota behaved so badly toward me. My father’s Polish friend overhearing the conversation refused to loan Janota a horse and cart. But my father, who had always been generous of spirit, persuaded him to let Janota have the horse and cart for the day. Five weeks later, on the 14th October 1942, the deportation of the Jews from my home town to Treblinka extermination camp began. Within one week out of 24,500 Jews, 22,000 were deported and killed. SS guards marched into the factory and rounded up anyone whom the guards thought was Jewish. When I was stopped, I insisted that I was a Pole. The SS continued to question me. At that moment Janota came to my rescue, confirming that I was indeed a Pole. He saved my life. Or, was it my father's example of tolerance and understanding towards him that saved my life?
Alas my father was shot a few days before the end of the war when he tried to escape from one of the Death Marches. He was thirty eight years old. After having survived the ghetto and Buchenwald concentration camp, I suddenly realised that I was alone. How does one return to life after such a loss?
Eleven years later I competed in the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games. I had transformed from being an emaciated, forlorn fifteen year old to an Olympic athlete. As I was marching in the stadium during the opening ceremony, I kept thinking that not only was this a personal triumph for me, but I felt that I was representing all the potential Jewish sportsmen and women who could have been there had they not been killed by the Nazis. During the games I went on to break the Olympic record by 12lbs in one of my lifts and made new British records in the lightweight, middleweight and 12 stone classes.
The shadows of the Holocaust, which has darkened the consciousness of the Jewish people, has never left us. Survivors have not allowed Hitler to enjoy a posthumous triumph over us. We have shown that the misery, cruelty, despair and injustice that was inflicted on us did not break our indomitable spirit. Nor did it break our capacity for forgiveness, love
and compassion. I still think of Mr Janota and the example my father set for him. I have tried to live my life showing that people have the capacity to survive the most dreadful experiences and can emerge with the ability not just to live like human beings, but to exhibit the finest aspects of human behaviour.
Ben Helfgott MBE
Holocaust Survivor, Honorary President, ’45 Aid Society and President, Holocaust Memorial Day Trust
Ben was born in Poland, in 1929. During the war he survived the Piotrkow-Trybunalski ghetto, two labour camps and three concentration camps. Ben came to England in August 1945 as one of ‘The Boys’ and in 1947 was reunited with his younger sister, Mala. He became a successful businessman and champion weightlifter. In 1956 and 1960 he captained the British Olympic Weightlifting Teams – the only known concentration camp survivor to have participated in the Olympics – and he was British Lightweight Champion for seven years.
In 1963 Ben helped launch the ’45 Aid Society for Holocaust Survivors, he served as Chairman for 71 years and is now Honorary President. He is also President of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust and of the Yad Vashem Committee of the Board of Deputies of British Jews.
Ben was awarded an MBE for services to the community, and the Polish Knights Cross, Order of Merit, and Commanders Cross, Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland for his work of reconciliation between Poles and Jews.
Isaac Herzog is Chairman of the Executive at The Jewish Agency for Israel and former leader of the Israeli opposition.
Jewish Athletes and the Power of Sport
By Isaac Herzog
After Jewish author Max Nordau coined the term “Muscular Judaism” in 1898, Jewish sports clubs flourished throughout Europe, with a steady increase in serious Jewish athletes.
In the early 20th century, Rabbi Abraham Isaac Hacohen Kook opined that “We [Jews] have been preoccupied with the mind and forgot the sanctity of the body…In strong bodies, our souls will be illuminated.”
Since then, champion Jewish athletes sprung up around the world. My father, Chaim Herzog z”l, Israel’s sixth president, was a champion youth boxer in Ireland before he fought the Nazis as a Jewish officer in WWII.
Jewish athletes represented many European countries in the early 1900s. For example, SC Hakoah Vienna, founded because Jews were banned from other clubs, produced several Olympic athletes and a competitive football team.
Nazi Germany attempted to erase the tradition of Jewish athletes, who did not fit their narrative of the lazy Jew. Following the Anschluss, the Austrian Football Association boycotted Hakoah Vienna and the club’s stadium was given to the Nazi party.
Jewish athletes tried to raise awareness of the increasing sanctions against them. Austrian swimmers Ruth Langer and Judith Deutsch-Haspel canceled their participation in the 1936 Summer Olympics in Germany, stating that “We do not boycott Olympia, but Berlin.” Their decision was partly inspired by signs at German swimming pools stating entry was forbidden for Jews and dogs.
Both women, who survived the war, were expelled from the national team and declared “enemies of the people.” The same fate befell Julius Hirsch, a member of the German national football team, who later perished in the Auschwitz death camp.
It took decades for Austria and Germany to restore these champions’ honor. In 1995, Austria lifted the lifetime ban they had placed on Langer and Deutsch-Haspel from competing. In 2000, Vienna’s Jewish community purchased back Hokoah Vienna’s old fields, where they opened a new community center; its football team plays in Austria’s minor leagues. A prize in Julius Hirsch’s name is awarded to those who promote tolerance.
Still, one can’t help but wonder what athletes such as Hirsch and his peers could have accomplished.
Jewish athletes from around the world went on to adorn records charts, and Israel is a powerhouse in many sports. Yet we recall with horror the deeply tragic massacre of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. At the 2016 Olympics, some athletes refused to ride a bus with the Israeli team, and a judoka refused to shake his Israeli opponent’s hand. To this day, we have not uprooted antisemitism from the playing fields. Antisemitic chants from spectators at football games remains a common occurrence throughout Europe.
Sport is a powerful engine to combat hate and antisemitism. Sport can bridge cultures and foster tolerance. Yet the use of sport as a vehicle for hatred must end.
I’m therefore especially appreciative of Roman Abramovich for his efforts in the fight against antisemitism and his harnessing the impact of the Chelsea Football Club toward this noble goal. His leadership is a beacon of light in the global struggle against evil and a tribute to the brave Jewish sportspeople who suffered antisemitism throughout the years. The Jewish Agency for Israel is honored to partner with Chelsea FC in stamping out hatred and helping ensure past injustices will never be repeated.
Isaac Herzog is Chairman of the Executive at The Jewish Agency for Israel and former leader of the Israeli opposition.
Olivia Marks - Woldman is Chief Executive of Holocaust Memorial Day Trust
Learning to fly What we can learn from the importance of diversity in sports
Sports speak to us in ways beyond language. Regardless of our backgrounds or beliefs, we are all left in awe watching an unbelievable goal or a breathtakingly high jump that that makes us feel like we too can fly. When our team wins and we go out to celebrate, we know, for once, what it’s like to be truly united.
The universal nature of sport is, in fact, wonderfully diverse. In football, 11 people – usually from across the globe – come together and become one body on the pitch. Because when you’re focused on winning, differences become not just valued strengths but essentials. Attackers, defenders, midfielders, goalkeepers – players bring out the best in each other and, as real professionals, don’t just respect difference but actively rely on it.
We know how to admire sports men and women for what they do regardless of who we think they are; their merits break down barriers and teach us something about humanity beyond the narrow boxes of race, religion or origins.
We can all learn so much from football. The sporting values apply soundly in Holocaust education and commemoration work. Holocaust education shows us a history when differences were feared, where communities were actively encouraged not to live and work together. That division started with prejudice and ended in gas chambers, concentration camps and six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust, as well as millions of non-Jews, including Roma people, black people, gay people – anyone different from Nazis’ idea of a master race – also murdered by the Nazis.
Sport is teaching us something vitally important about ourselves – that we're both stronger because of our differences, and that we are not all that different. That the same need to join in and belong beats in every heart, whether this heart is Jewish, Muslim, Christian or simply human without a label.
So as footballers continue training, we should continue to do so in our field. Our training is learning: learning from the past for a better future and increasing the public’s knowledge of the Holocaust and recent genocides. As the footballers work hard in discipline, we continue to persevere in our mission. Our work has never been more urgent than today, in the world of a global pandemic, where we see an increase in hatred, antisemitism, racism and division. And as football clubs continue to build diverse and stellar teams, they are also enabling others to work towards a better future by promoting a society free from identity-based hostility and persecution.
Diversity in sport creates first class teams, gives us our heroes, makes history with spectacular sporting moments – and society as a whole is better for it. As spectators or as participants, we can all fly.
Olivia Marks-Woldman OBE is the Chief Executive of Holocaust Memorial Day Trust. Olivia was awarded an OBE in services to Holocaust and Genocide Education and Commemoration in the 2020 Birthday Honours.
Lord Austin is the UK Trade Envoy to Israel. He was member of Parliament for Dudley from 2005 until 2019 when he left the Labour Party in protest at antisemitism which he said had “poisoned” the party under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. He was nominated to the House of Lords in 2020 and sits as a non-aligned peer.
I am delighted to have the opportunity to contribute to this important initiative, not least because it gives me the opportunity to pay tribute to Chelsea’s phenomenal campaign against racism.
Over the last five years, as I worked with people in the Jewish community and some Labour MPs and members to campaign against the antisemitism that poisoned the party, I often reflected on how much better off our country would be if every major sports team, big business or even political party, were following Chelsea’s lead.
With their community links, global reach and stars adored by millions, football clubs are uniquely placed to influence, educate and bring people together, which are the foundations of any campaign to fight racism.
And when so much of contemporary antisemitism is based on an obsessive hatred of Israel, we can see just how important this work is and the huge impact it can have.
There is no other foreign policy issue given anywhere near the amount of attention as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And all too often, when Israelis compete abroad, we see Israel singled out for protests that no other country’s teams face, with abuse that frequently crosses the line into antisemitism, using disgusting imagery, holding it to standards applied to no other country or even questioning the only Jewish nation’s right to exist.
Whether it applies to sport, or to trade, cultural or academic links, demands to boycott Israel are completely unacceptable, not just because Israel is routinely singled out for campaigns that are rarely - if ever - applied to other countries, but also because they drive people apart and can damage community relations, when we should all be working to bring them together.
So I want to use this opportunity to celebrate the ties that bind these two great countries – the UK and Israel – together. Trade between Israel and the UK was worth £8 billion before the pandemic. 500 Israeli companies are investing in Britain, creating thousands of jobs especially in areas like science and technology. Israel also makes a huge contribution to our NHS, with one in seven of all NHS drugs coming from Israel and UK and Israeli scientists are working together on health research and innovation programmes to develop new treatments and technologies to help people in the UK and across the world.
It’s fantastic to see Israeli footballers playing in the British leagues and to see managers from the UK working with teams in Israel, but the opportunities for sport to promote ties that bring people together go so much deeper than that. So, for example, it was wonderful to see His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge supporting a project bringing Jewish and Arab footballers together on his recent visit to Israel. One of the youngsters summed up the power of sport perfectly when he told our future king that “When you play football, you don’t have to talk the same language.”
That should inspire us all to unite people and bring them together with stronger sporting links, deeper cultural ties, increased economic development, stronger trade and more investment.
So the impact of Chelsea’s campaign on antisemitism goes way beyond Stamford Bridge, its huge fanbase or even the UK.
It is part of something much bigger. It is about unity, peace and learning to live together.
LORD SEB COE
Lord Coe is the President of World Athletics where he is serving his second term. He is also Non- Executive Chairman of CSM Sport & Entertainment.
I write this contribution sitting in the World Athletics headquarters.
A few strides from my office and adorning our central corridor is our heritage collection. The display contains artefacts that chronicle the breath-taking moments that distinguish and indelibly define our glorious history. And history that lives well beyond the field of play.
Centre stage in one of our glass cabinets sits an aging red athletics singlet. On the front in white letters the word ‘Ohio’. Its owner the late great American sprinter Jesse Owens. Ohio State University was his alma mater and it was representing his university in the highly competitive annual fixture against deadly rivals Michigan State in 1935 at Ann Abor that he achieved one of the most astonishing athletics performances. In less than the space of one hour, Owens set 5 world records and equalled a 6th. A year later he was selected to compete in the Berlin Olympic Games in 1936.
The Games were awarded to the German capital in 1931. Two years before Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party rose to power.
Although private discussions took place within the International Olympic Committee about shifting the games in light of antisemitic policies that accompanied Hitler’s stranglehold, they were given assurances that Jewish athletes would be given unfettered access to the German Olympic team. Inevitably the regime enshrined Hitler’s risible aryan views of racial superiority and antisemitism and of course contrary to assurances, Jewish athletes were prevented from representing their nation in many and egregious ways.
In the Berlin Games, Owens won 4 gold medals in the 100m, 200m sprint relay and long jump. And it was in the long jump where Owens was pitted against German Luz Long that sporting comradery and common decency trumped Hitler’s grand plan to use the Games as a platform for aryan supremacy.
In the competitions qualifying round Owens underperformed and was on the verge of missing the final. Long witnessed Owens plight and mid competition advised him to launch himself a foot shy of the take off board in order to qualify safely. His advice was given in the full realisation that without Owens in the final, he was almost certain of leaving the Games as Olympic champion. Owens duly altered his run up, qualified and won a tight fought final against his German challenger. In the aftermath of competition both athletes embraced centre stage before an outraged Hitler who refused to shake the victor’s hand. It is a moment that distinguished sport and again exemplified its unique ability to transcend discrimination of any nature.
Lord Coe is the President of World Athletics where he is serving his second term. He is also Non- Executive Chairman of CSM Sport & Entertainment.
As an athlete he won Olympic gold medals in the 1500 metres in 1980 and 1984 and set 12 middle-distance world records. He went on become a Member of Parliament for Falmouth and Camborne and later chaired the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) delivering the Games in 2012.
Coe retired from athletics in 1990 and two years later was elected as Member of Parliament for Falmouth and Camborne, a seat he held until 1997, when he became Private Secretary to William Hague, the Leader of the Opposition. In 2000 he was appointed a life peer and took the title of Lord Coe of Ranmore.
Coe has received numerous honours throughout his career. He was the BBC’s sports personality of the year in 1979 and in 1982 he was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE). Eight years later he was promoted to Officer of the same order (OBE). Following his appointment as a life peer, Coe was promoted to Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) for his services to sport and in the 2013 New Year’s Honours List he was appointed to the Order of the Companions of Honour (CH).
In the Summer of 2020 Lord Coe was approved as an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member at its 136th IOC Session.
UK Government Independent Adviser on Antisemitism
I remember as a small child, having been lifted over the turnstiles with my wooden stool, standing elevated on the terraces of my local football club, as my father and others challenged and silenced a racist abusing one of the players on the field. He and those who joined him are what I call football fans. Men and women, whose clubs are as proud that they wear the shirt, as they are to bear the colours.
Football sees itself as a family and in each family, there is a duty, an expectation, a necessity to look after each other and love one another.
This is why football has a role in tackling antisemitism.
Imagine being that Jewish supporter hearing or reading antisemitic abuse. The player receiving it because of what his or her identity is. The coach abused for wearing a kippah on their head or their national teams name on their jacket.
Imagine being the parents of a five-year-old football fanatic demanding their first football shirt and hearing antisemitic abuse from the clubs supporters on their television, or the neighbour fearing a brick through the window that is displaying their Chanukiah. Imagine being abused on your way home from Synagogue by a passing car with scarves hanging from its window or having to have security guards at your place of worship, at the door of your community centre, outside your children’s school.
Welcome to England 2020. And the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the Netherlands, in fact across Europe and further still. This is reality today.
All discrimination, every racism is an issue for football. Antisemitism needs an equal recognition to all others, no more, but no less. It manifests in different ways and mutates into different forms. But the death of six million did not appear from nowhere.
In these difficult Covid times, the unifying passion of football has not surprisingly been immense inlifting people’s spirits. The Jewish community and especially young Jews are no different to anyone else in this.
By choosing to do nothing about antisemitism, a football club is making a statement about itself. About what its name, its badge, its shirt stands for. But by doing its little bit to combat antisemitism every football club is also making a clear statement. One that our club embraces everybody, that all are welcome, with no exceptions. That we value every supporter and every neighbour with equal respect. Each football club has a choice.
It was not always so.
The pivotal role that the Jewish community played in the establishment and development of football remains a hidden history. Football developed into its modern form around the turn of the 20th Century. Jewish young people were enthusiastic pioneers of the concept of ‘muscular Judaism’ first articulated in writing by Max Nordau in 1989 as a way of achieving the goals of Zionism. In the same way that other faiths encouraged the development of body, mind and soul, so Jewish involvement in the establishment of sports clubs and football teams grew rapidly, particularly in what is now known as Central and Eastern Europe, whose Jewish communities were large.
In Austria, Hakoah Vienna was formed in 1909, Hakoah meaning ‘the strength’ in Hebrew, whilst inHungary, Poland and Germany football became a preoccupation especially for young Jewish men. Avowedly Jewish, with a Star of David prominent in its emblematic badge, Hakoah was hugely successful until Nazi rule broke it up, finally closing it down by force in 1938 through the German Football Association. Hakoah, with Franz Kafka as a celebrity fan, won the Austrian League in 1924-25, having already been on extensive world tours with a 5-1 defeat of West Ham United at Upton Park. Seven of its players were murdered in Auschwitz.
Another footballing icon murdered in Auschwitz was Arpad Weisz, along with his wife and children. He managed both Inter and Bologna to their first Italian championships.
MTK in Budapest had huge Jewish involvement, forming its football team in 1901 and winning 9 championships in a row from 1916-25. One survivor of the death camps was former player and manager Bela Guttman, whose contribution to world football included managing Milan. Porto Panathinaikos and most famously the illustrious European Cup winning Benfica of Lisbon 1961 and 1962, where he signed Eusebio. Guttman also coached seven national teams including Brazil, Uruguay, Hungary and Italy and was the pioneer of the football coaching system of 4-2-4.
Guttman starred with Gyula Mándi, another survivor of the Holocaust, who became assistant coach of the Mighty Magyars, the Hungarian national team of the early 1950s who beat England 6-3 at Wembley in 1953 and then for three years coached Brazil and later Israel’s national teams. In Germany, Bayern had a Jewish President, Kurt Landauer, until the Nazis removed him and won their first Bundesliga title with a Jewish coach Richard Kohn, who went on to coach
Barcelona, and Feyenoord, while Eintracht Frankfurt and Austria Vienna were also labelled like Bayern, as JudenKlub because of their level of Jewish involvement.
For these clubs, the recent past has seen a rebirth in reclaiming their heritage, educating their supporters and the wider community and recognising the importance of their Jewish heritage. Bayern has put particular efforts into telling the story and honouring the memory and crucial role of Landauer in its history, a message adopted by supporters’ groups in their own projects against antisemitism.
In Frankfurt, the Clubs historians have been tracking down those employed by or associated directly with the club who were murdered by the Nazis, and unveiling a memorial plaque at their stadium to everyone whose modern family have been traced, in front of the supporters. This is a major focus ofthe club’s museum, which acts as a supporters’ hub before and after games.
Slowly but surely the football world is leading the way.
The national Governmental coordinators against antisemitism, including Elan Carr of the United States, Felix Klein of Germany and myself are asking all major European Clubs to adopt and use the International Holocaust Alliance Definition of antisemitism which was agreed by its 34 member states in 2016.
In the United Kingdom, our Government, 642 out of 643 MPs and every political party represented at Westminster have adopted and are using the definition in their work.
More than 200 local authorities have adopted the definition and Chelsea were the first football and sports Club in the world to do so, followed by others in the Premier League and Bundesliga.
The badge of Chelsea Football Club, the shirt of Chelsea, its name and its legend extend worldwide- a social media reach of 500 million people in every corner of the Globe.
English football is unparalleled in the reach it has, with every club having a multitude of supporters identifying, wearing, worshipping its colours, and glorying in its successes. The shirts and badges of English football teams are worn by children and adults alike across the 193 countries of the United Nations.
As a Parliamentarian I have had the opportunity to visit many of the more hidden corners of the planet. When I have done so one thing has stood out more than any other- the global reach of English football clubs and none more so than Chelsea.
When your team is doing well, when it wins, then you have a bounce in your stride. This feeling is the same across the world. Amongst the porters on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, in the desolation of the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh, the street urchins playing on the beaches of Benin, the barefooted children in the poorest villages on the earth in Burundi. Whether in the well to do bars or the squalor of the slums, in all of these I have seen the shirt of Chelsea Football Club and other teams, worn proudly by the people of our earth. However torn or unwashed, whether borne by a pauper or adorning a Prince or President, the same spring in your step and an equal pride shine through.
This is the power of football. From corporate suite to village radio huddle, the joy is the same. This is the power of football and it is the reach of its top clubs. A bonanza of English football colour, worldwide. A symbol of the inclusivity of our game. The children who kick a ball, dreaming of being Didier Drogba. The future Frank Lampards and Sam Kerrs kicking a ball, a can, a stone in some far- flung village or unmade road. In the school playground, on the local field. The next Ji So-yun or Kai Havertz beaming with joy at their newly acquired blue shirt.
Different clubs and colours, other heroes, some new, some past. A message of inspiration and hope. A world full of dreams. This is why it is so important that football plays its own small, but consistent role in tackling antisemitism. And this means every club, at every level.
Football only wins by being inclusive. Jewish supporters demand and should expect no more recognition than anyone else. But they deserve no less respect. Throughout history, not least in the history of the last Century, far too many have stood back and not done their little bit in challenging antisemitism.
This Chelsea project pays a humble tribute to those who paid the price for this.
But it is for those living today and tomorrow the fans on now and the future that each football club must play its part. Our clubs are global brands, but their values are of global leadership.
Training its staff and players, educating them and the supporters, tackling those who choose to be a problem, in their words, their songs, on the internet, at the stadium and educating them about the club’s values, its ethics. What is means to be Chelsea and wear the shirt. What is means to be your club, stand proud in the shirt and command love from your supporters.
For evil to triumph, then good people have failed to do their little bit. ‘We are Chelsea and we’re proud of it’ can now be sung with equal honesty and unified fervour by every Chelsea fan. Bar none. A lesson in history that is making a better history for tomorrow.
All I ask is that every club does its little bit.
LORD STUART POLAK
Lord Polak was elevated to the House of Lords in October 2015. He has sat on the EU Justice Sub-Committee since May 2016, and the European Union Committee since October 2018.
It is often forgotten that as well as the six million Jews who were exterminated in the Holocaust, millions of other untermenschen (socially or racially inferior undesirables) were discriminated against and murdered by the Nazis. Another group regarded as enemies of the Third Reich – and thus open to discrimination and murder – were the various classes of Gypsies and Roma tribes. One such tribe were the Sintis, who were a Roma tribe in central Europe, and whose dialect of Sinti-Manouche exhibited a strong German influence.
From the 1880s in Germany, the Sinti and Roma tribes faced growing levels of exclusion from the general population and were often on the receiving end of violent racism. The racial inferiority of Roma tribes, including the Sinti, was incorporated into the Nuremberg Laws of 1935. Many Sintis were deported to Poland along with other Gypsy communities and ended up in the “Gypsy Camp” in Auschwitz-Birkenau which was liquidated by a mass gassing between 2nd to 3rd August 1944.
The popular German Sinti boxer Rukeli “Johann” Trollmann was one of over 220,000 Roma and Sinti who died at the hands of the Nazis. Although his Sinti name was Rukeli, this was ‘Aryanised’ to Johann at school as his Sinti name was considered by the school authorities to be undesirable. He was born in Hannover on 27th December 1907 and became a famous boxer in Germany before his retirement in 1934.
Trollmann joined his local boxing club (“the Heroes”) when he was eight years old, as it was felt at the time that boxing provided a route out of poverty for working class youth. By the time of his 19th birthday in 1928, he had fought more than 100 amateur fights, and was the German amateur north-western regional middleweight champion.
His dancing boxing style led to criticism from the nationalist press which commented that “Trollmann does not fight like a German; the gypsy boxes Jewish”.
His success shattered the Nazi idea of Aryan superiority, enraging the Nazi chairman of the boxing authority who ordered local judges to deny him the German light-heavyweight title in 1933. In 2003, the German Boxing Federation officially recognised Trollman as the winner of the 1933 championship fight.
In a later act of defiance, he entered the ring for a match with dyed blonde hair and his body whitened with flour – an Aryan caricature. After standing still throughout the match, Trollman collapsed in the ring after five rounds.
In 1943, Trollman was sent to the Neuengamme concentration camp near Hamberg and was used as a boxing trainer for SS troops before being moved to the adjacent camp of Wittenberge. Daily beatings and sadistic treatment by SS guards and the camp kaposwas widespread, and Trollman was murdered after defeating a former criminal kapoin a boxing match.
This powerful project by Chelsea FC recognises that it is more important than ever for us to remember those murdered in the Holocaust and renew our commitment to fighting rising levels of antisemitism, racism and bigotry. Each one of the millions killed in the Holocaust and subsequent atrocities deserves to have their stories told.
Lord Polak was elevated to the House of Lords in October 2015. He has sat on the EU Justice Sub-Committee since May 2016, and the European Union Committee since October 2018.
Lord Polak was appointed as only the second Director of Conservative Friends of Israel in 1989, a position which he held until 2015 when he was made Honorary President.
In March 2015, he was awarded the CBE for political services to Conservative Friends of Israel. Born in Liverpool in 1961 where he grew up and was educated, Lord Polak began his career working for the Board of Deputies of British Jews in 1984 as Education Director.
He has coordinated and led more than 150 Conservative Friends of Israel delegations of politicians to Israel over 28 years and through this he has developed extensive relationships with MPs, Peers, MEPs and advisors throughout all levels of the Conservative Party.
Actress and opinion leader against antisemitism
When I was four years old, in a moment of what I can only describe now as “70’s parenting”, my parents took me to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem. I was far too young and totally unprepared. Image after image of horror. A pile of hair. A mound of children’s shoes. Black and white photographs of starved corpses in mass open graves. The one that haunts me to this day is of a woman’s naked lifeless body being placed into an open oven to be cremated. My father stopped at an image of three naked women being shot into a pit. By Uniformed men. Someone proudly documenting the moment on celluloid. I saw him wipe a tear away and went to the Hall of names to verify what happened to a tranche of our Polish family and which Concentration Camps they were murdered in. What had these people done? What was their crime? I asked my mum. No Crime, she told me. They were Jewish. That was their crime. This was the endgame of unchecked Jew hate. This was the end game of dehumanising The Other.
I had one surviving great Uncle. He was called Josef. He escaped the Warsaw ghetto and was then picked up and taken to two concentration camps. I loved him. He spoke French with a thick Polish accent. I was in junior school and spoke schoolgirl French. When we visited him in his Paris apartment, he would sometimes show me the tattoo on his arm. He wouldn’t talk about his experience much. He was now one of France’s top psychiatrists. He even won the Legion D’honneur. He was a dude. But I remember asking him “how did the Holocaust happen?” And he replied, “because good people looked the other way”. I vowed never to be one of those people.
Social Media used to be fun. Especially Twitter. It was witty and quick and friendly. Like a village full of the best people. But over the last five years I have watched it becoming a hot bed of fake news, extremism, racism, misogyny and conspiracy theories. If left to stand unchecked, then radicalisation leading to violence. It’s a war zone. I started speaking out on the anti-Semitism I saw unfolding. Blaming the evils of the world on Soros, The Rothschilds, Jews, Bankers. I then became a target myself. I was a “Rothschild whore”, a “Zio Shill”, A “tax Evader”, A “Stooge”, a “paedophile” and “not to be trusted”. I was threatened and bullied on a daily basis for having the temerity to stand up and speak out at Anti-Semitism not just coming from the far right but far left. Suddenly Holocaust Denial was de rigeur. “if your family died in the holocaust why are you still alive” asked one tweeter. “The numbers don’t add up” said another. “Your great Uncle exaggerated the Warsaw Ghetto”. When an award winning and respected film director Ken Loach says its acceptable to discuss whether the Holocaust even happened, even though he later sought to clarify his BBC remarks in the New York Times, then you know society is in trouble.
Because I am an actor and a writer, I decided to work with what I knew to try and make a difference. I took the Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare’s play about Shylock, a Jewish money lender, living in the Jewish Ghetto of Venice-who takes Antonio a Jew hating aristocratic Venetian merchant to court, demanding he forfeit his pound of flesh as contracted prior to the loan that `Antonio has forfeited on It’s a horrible play. But I decided to use my experience of antisemitism and misogyny by reframing it. Setting it in the East End "ghetto" of London in 1936, with shylock based on my great grandmother, an immigrant widowed single mother, scraping at making a living in the markets of Cable Street. My shylock is a tough Jewish woman who knows hardship, racism, degradation but also survival. When myself and director Brigid Lamour put her and her world nest to the aristocratic British racism of Oswald Mosley and The Mitford’s and Lord Hazelmere we had a perfect fit for making the Merchant of Venice not only a relevant play but a reminder of what happened at the Battle of cable street when Oswald Mosely and his black shirts marched in their hundreds against “The Jew” . My grandma was there and her bothers. Standing shoulder to shoulder with all the working-class communities who said “You shall not pass” to the fascist Mosley. I also worked with Watford Palace theatre to take the play and create a national education package to take across the country to talk about all racism and how if communities pull together, they can overcome hate.
CFC antisemitism initiative were one of the first people to come on board with the idea and commit to helping us make a reality. I will always be grateful. And once the theatres are up and running again, we will make it a reality.
Tracy Ann Oberman, Actress and opinion leader against antisemitism
Manager Chelsea FC Women
Last year, the team and I had the opportunity to travel to Israel as part of the Club’s Say No to Antisemitism campaign. One of the activities during our visit was to bring together young girls from different backgrounds to play football together. Jewish, Muslim, Israeli and Palestinian girls joined us on the pitch to play football. This to me was a true demonstration of the power of sports, and how it can unite people no matter where they come from. Young girls, who are often discouraged from playing, were being empowered through the game. The fact that they came from different backgrounds didn’t matter once they came together as teammates. This is what sport can do, it allows us to embrace and celebrate our differences.
This is so important as we know that sport has not been immune to the horrors of the past. This exhibition brings back some of the darkest moments of our history. We see the Holocaust through the eyes of male and female athletes from around the world. The stories of Jewish athletes such as Lilli Henoch, Anna Dresden-Polak and Gertrude Kleinova remind us why we as a Club and individual sports professionals can never take our freedoms for granted. Just like many of my players, they were among the best in their field, representing their nations at the highest level of competition. But racism and antisemitism doesn’t spare anyone, and all of these women faced persecution and death, for being Jewish.
I am proud that we as a club use our platforms to celebrate diversity and use our voices to stand up against injustices and all forms of racism and anitsemitism. I hope that this exhibition can further educate and inspire more people to come together with an open mind, just like those girls who played happily together in Israel last year.
Former Player and Head of Football
If you approach Stamford Bridge today you will see three men displayed on a mural on the West End Wall. These three men are Julius Hirsch, Árpád Weisz and Ron Jones and they all had two things in common: their love for football and the fact that they were all sent to Nazi camps during WW2.
Hirsch and Weisz were international football players, playing for the German and Hungarian national teams. Both were murdered during the Holocaust for being Jewish. Ron Jones, a British prisoner of war, survived the horrors of the war and was able to return to his home in Britain.
It is hard to imagine that international football players today could be the victims of such persecution on the basis of their religion or ethnicity, but it did happen. The images of these three football players on our stadium serve as a reminder of that unthinkable past, and through this art exhibition featuring Jewish male and female athletes killed during the war, we hope to inspire future generations to always fight against antisemitism, discrimination and racism, wherever they find it.
Football has an amazing ability to unite people from all backgrounds, races or religions around a shared passion. Discrimination, whatever form it takes, has no place in our society and we should all be working hard to eliminate hate – both on and off the pitch.
Journalist and editor of Jewish News
Much of my youth was misspent watching Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road, barely a goal kick from Grenfell Tower. Three years ago, 72 people lost their lives in that North Kensington tower block in one of London’s deadliest fires since the Second World War. QPR instinctively knew its role in the heartbreaking days that followed, hosting a sell-out charity match that raised £250,000. The club continues to support the Grenfell families to this day.
More recently Loftus Road was renamed the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium in honour of a teenager in the club’s academy who was stabbed to death outside his school. His inspiring father, Mark, set up The Kiyan Prince Foundation to educate young people about the consequences of knife crime, with the QPR stadium adopting the foundation’s name. Forget cups and league titles (being a QPR fan you tend to). Being there when your community needs you most is the greatest honour a club can aspire to.
Of course, at its well-documented worst, the modern game lets a 150-year-old community club like Macclesfield Town be wound up in the High Court for owing the tax man less than half of Gareth Bale’s weekly wage. But look closer and you’ll see football remains a beautiful game, uniting communities and nations. Touching the parts other sports cannot reach.
France’s multicultural World Cup-winning team of 1998 was credited with calming deep racial tensions in the country. Ivory Coast’s qualification for the 2006 World Cup finals was hailed for helping to end the country’s civil war. In Africa, the 2011 Four Countries 4 Peace football tournament between Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo soothed the scars of the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
The game even has a positive impact on perhaps the world’s most intractable conflict. Last year I joined Chelsea’s women’s team on a pre-season tour to Israel where they took part in the remarkable Twinned Peace Sport Schools initiative that unites Arab and Jewish youngsters through football. The children play in mixed teams, learn about each other’s lives and culture and slowly overcome the ignorance that’s lead to more than 70 years of intolerance. After playing on the same side the children see each other as people rather than opponents. As one 11-year-old Palestinian girl from Jericho told me: “I don’t like the anger between Israelis and Palestinians, but I do like this. It makes me feel we have things in common.”
Football, at its unique best, is an expression of all we have in common. It is the greatest equaliser.
Chairman of the Institute of the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy
Six million Jews, six million individuals. We tend to think about the Holocaust as a horrific, historical event, and less so as a traumatic personal experience, a personal tragedy for all those individuals - women, men, children - who suffered unthinkable atrocities. Behind this dark period in human history, stood individuals, families and entire communities, whose lives changed drastically, for generations to come.
"Whoever saves a single life, saves an entire universe." In that same sense, lives, entire micro universes, were destroyed even as Jews were first expelled from their ordinary social life. Jewish athletes, like Gretel Bergmann, and Julius Hirsch who even joined the army in order to serve his country, were then banned from representing the country they had called home, solely because they were Jewish. Ultimately, the country they had once proudly represented, would have them murdered.
When I was five, my mother taught me to play chess. I fell in love with it immediately – growing up in the Soviet Union in the 1950s, chess became my first passport into the world of free thought, my first great escape. I loved the fact that I could win, playing blind, without looking at the board. I loved believing that I could one day be the world champion.
Later when I became an activist of human rights movement in the Soviet Union and advocate for the right of Jews to be part of their people, it was chess that helped me to go through all the hardships. I’d daresay, to survive. During my nine-year in Soviet prison, the sport of chess was what helped me to keep my sanity. For over 400 days, I was placed in solitary confinement, where I would play thousands of games, against myself in my head. That is what allowed me to stay sane, even optimistic. I focused on my strong belief in the Jewish people as a powerful and unified community, even in the face of discrimination, and the deprivation of my very basic needs.
Whenever I meet with Holocaust survivors, or learn the stories of those who were brutally tortured and murdered, I try to put myself in their shoes, understand their agony in the most personal way. I truly believe that is also the right way to try and educate the younger generation about that horrible moment in history. To understand their humanity, their feelings, their aspirations – just the contrary of the systematic cruel Nazi dehumanisation of the Jews. These were real people. When we finally look our opponent in the eye, we see that we are all pretty much the same, no matter our race, gender or colour.
That is why I think that sport is one of the most powerful tools in uniting individuals, regardless of their different backgrounds or beliefs. It has its own special sphere, its own rules, and the ability to build bridges and narrow social gaps. We are all, together, carried away by the game, forget our prejudices, exchange sweaty jerseys, and wipe tears of joy, or of defeat.
With the alarming rise of antisemitism and racism, the world is crying out for solidarity rather than division, we must all join the same team – against hatred and prejudice. We must continue and tell the stories of those who are no longer with us, so generations to come learn from the mistakes and evils of the past, and so that history does not repeat itself.
Natan Sharansky is a human rights activist, and author who, as a refusenik in the Soviet Union during the 1970s and 1980s, spent nine years in Soviet prisons. He served as Chair of the Executive of the Jewish Agency from June 2009 to August 2018 and currently serves as the Chairman of the Institute of the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy.