On Friday members of the England team visited Auschwitz I, Birkenau and Schindler's Factory
On Friday members of the England team visited Auschwitz I and Birkenau.
Seven England players were joined by staff and senior FA officials on the tour of sites, stopping to sign the museum’s guestbook before lighting a candle of remembrance on the train tracks at Birkenau.
England manager Roy Hodgson joined FA Chairman David Bernstein in lighting the candles and signing the guestbook along with the inscription:
“There are so many lessons to be learnt and understood from the Holocaust and we believe football can play its part in encouraging society to speak out against intolerance in all its forms – and in advancing the important work of teaching future generations about the horrors of the Holocaust.”
The players visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau were Leighton Baines, Jack Butland, Andy Carroll, Joe Hart, Phil Jagielka, Wayne Rooney and Theo Walcott.
Everton defender Jagielka, whose grandparents were Polish, told how some of the exhibits had left him fighting back tears.
"It is awful. I understand when there are wars that people die for their country," he said, "but to round people up like cattle and bring them to a place just to be killed, I don't think I can find a word to describe that.
"We have just seen some pictures of women and children who were removed from their loved ones and I cannot imagine that situation, how bad you would feel knowing you would never see them again.
"I think the worst moment for me was when we went to see the suitcases of the victims and you saw the age difference of those who died, anything from 60 years to three years old.
"Having kids myself, seeing young kids and their shoes, that was the point which brings a tear to the eye. It hit home then."
Hart, who was deeply moved following a talk before the visit by Holocaust survivor Ben Helfgott, 83, said: "It is the scale of the place that hits you, the numbers that walked through those gates with absolutely no hope of survival.
"When we went to see the place where the bodies were cremated, we were told 90 per cent of those who walked through that door were dead within the hour.
"There were pictures of people who arrived and it described how they died in that way."
There were seven players in the 26 members of the FA group who visited Auschwitz, while 30 others, 15 players including captain Steven Gerrard and John Terry, visited Oskar Schindler's factory just outside Krakow.
Oskar Schindler helped save the lives of over 1,000 people, who he employed as labourers from the nearby Krakow ghetto and later the Plaszow slave labour camp.
The visit forms part of the wider FA and Holocaust Educational Trust (HET) partnership, to produce an educational resource on the Holocaust for all secondary schools and colleges in England.
The entire England squad, and a further 120 FA staff, had already heard the testimony of Holocaust survivors Zigi Shipper and Ben Helfgott MBE
Watch the FATV video in the player above from the team's visit to Auschwitz and the player below shows the film from Schindler's Factory.