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Academy youngsters keen to tell history of Holocaust

27 Jan 2020
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Premier League arranges for under-14s from Man City, Middlesbrough and Norwich to meet Auschwitz survivors and visit concentration camp

Today is Holocaust Memorial Day, which marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation by Allied soldiers of Auschwitz, and ahead of the occasion the Premier League arranged for Academy players from three clubs to learn first-hand the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps. 

Players from Manchester City, Middlesbrough and Norwich City took part in a three-day education programme on the Holocaust set up by the Premier League in line with the national curriculum.

They listened to the stories of Holocaust survivors before visiting Auschwitz itself.

At the Jewish Museum in London, the youngsters met Harry Spiro and Zigi Shipper, two Poles who were forced to live in a ghetto during World War II from the age of 10 before being transported to Auschwitz.

Spiro and Shipper stressed the importance of passing on their stories so that future generations ensure there is no repeat of the atrocities they faced. They also sought to prepare the boys for what they were about to see for themselves on their trip to Poland.

"These 14-year-olds are going to Auschwitz, and you have got no idea what it means," said Shipper, 91. "I hope when they go away they speak to their friends, speak to their parents about it, because it is so important for young people to know."

"Young generations who didn't know anything about it, they need to know"

Ben, Norwich Academy

The experience of visiting the camp had a profound effect on the players.

"It is quite overwhelming and a lot to take in," said Will, from Man City's academy. "In the world we live in everything is pretty much perfect and how we want it, but to go in depth about how they lived is quite shocking." 

Ben, from Norwich, highlighted the need to keep telling the story of Auschwitz.

"It's massively important," he said. "Young generations who didn't know anything about it, they need to know, because however saddening it is, it needs to be told."

Sharing the education

Barry Dawson, head of education welfare at Middlesbrough, wants the experience to be shared back on Teesside.

"Our aim now is to go back to the club and to share it, to make sure that everyone knows and understands the truth about the Holocaust," he said.

The Holocaust Educational Trust and the Premier League are continuing to work with clubs to educate more Academy players about the Holocaust.

"If we can show the footballers what they do in school then it's part of us developing well-rounded young people which is a key aim of our work," explained Martyn Heather, Head of Education & Welfare at the Premier League.

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