England fans visit Bergen Belsen concentration camp during EURO 2024 trip to Germany

Wednesday 19 Jun 2024
A group of England supporters in Germany visited Bergen Belsen after watching the Three Lions' opening game at EURO 2024. All photos courtesy of Shahar Azran/World Jewish Congress

This week we invited over 40 members of our England Supporters Travel Club to visit former Nazi concentration camp Bergen Belsen in northern Germany.

The delegation was co-organised by the Cultural Foundation of the German Football Association (DFB), the World Jewish Congress and group What Matters, which tackles antisemitism in sport.

It formed part of the DFB’s Football and Remembrance initiative, which brings fans together through visits to former concentration camps, museums and other historically significant memorials to gain a stronger understanding of the connection between football and the history of the Holocaust, and how sport has been used to bridge the past.

The group saw a memorial at the concentration camp during their visit

Taking place a day after England’s 1-0 UEFA EURO 2024 victory over Serbia in Gelsenkirchen, England fans from many backgrounds gathered to take part in a wreath-laying ceremony and joined a guided tour of the memorial site at the former Nazi concentration camp.

It’s believed that up to 50,000 people died there throughout the duration of World War II, with most of the victims being Jewish, including notable figures such as Anne Frank and her sister Margot.

Dal Singh Darroch, our head of diversity and inclusion strategic programmes, said: “It was a very sobering and insightful day. Talking to the fans throughout the day, I know they really appreciated the opportunity and the experience was one they will never forget.

There was a tour of the facility for the group

"It’s important that our organisation and supporters take part in visits such as this, to continue to learn more about the past so we can use our game to bring people closer together and learn from one another.”

The UK Government’s Independent Advisor on antisemitism and a member of the FA’s antisemitism taskforce, Lord John Mann, was also in attendance and said of the delegation: “They (the fans) were unanimous in their feeling that it was hugely worthwhile. We learned about Bergen Belsen's history and the connection to British soldiers being involved in the liberation, which next year marks 80 years.

"It was highly appropriate that the FA wanted to be involved and it’s very pleasing there was such a big take up.”

England fans viewing a scale model of the Belsen Bergen camp

The delegation was also joined by representatives of Maccabi GB, the Board of Deputies and the Football Supporters Association, with Fans For Diversity lead Nilesh Chauhan saying of the visit: “I learned so much from this visit and to spend time with fans was very rewarding. It was an honour to have joined this important visit during the EUROs.”

England supporter Harry, who travelled to Germany from Coventry, added: “It’s really important to visit these sites. I think it’s really important for fans to learn about this, to say never again, because it happened only 80 years ago.”

By FA Staff