Premier League clubs mark Holocaust Memorial Day

27 Jan 2024
Burnley, Lady Milena Grenfell-Baines MBE

Players from first teams and Academies remember victims of genocide, meeting Holocaust survivors and educational activities

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Saturday 27 January, marks this year's Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD), and Premier League Academies have been commemorating the day with a series of educational events and tributes.

HMD remembers the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, and the six million Jewish men, women and children who were murdered  by the Nazis and their collaborators in the Holocaust.

It also acknowledges the millions murdered in subsequent genocides, such as in Rwanda, Cambodia, Bosnia and Darfur.

HMD is about people and communities committing to learning from the past and pledging to stand up to racism, bigotry and hatred wherever they find it today. This year, the theme for HMD is "Fragility of Freedom", highlighting how freedom cannot be taken for granted.

At Chelsea, players from the men's and women's teams heard from Eve Kugler BEM, a 93-year-old Holocaust survivor. "Whoever listens to a witness, becomes a witness. You are all witnesses now," she told them.

As part of the Under-14 Football Remembers The Holocaust Programme, young players have been learning about  Jozef Klotz, a Jewish footballer murdered during the Holocaust.

Klotz was a centre-half who scored Poland’s first-ever international goal. He was imprisoned in the Warsaw Ghetto where he was killed in 1941 along with his team-mate, Leon Sperling.

Before their football matches this weekend, players from Premier League Academies will be asked to read about Klotz, and in a continuation of the Football Remembers the Holocaust scheme of work theme of "standing together" players will stand side-by-side with their opponents. Special HMD stickers will then be applied to players' shirts before holding a one-minute silence to honour his memory, and those of other victims of the Holocaust. 

HMD badge on Arsenal U14 kit
Academy partnership

The Under-14 Football Remembers The Holocaust Programme is a small part of the extensive work the Premier League and the Holocaust Educational Trust carry out to educate Academy players about the horrors of the Holocaust and the lessons to be learned for today.  

As part of a five-part programme this year with 15 Academies, Under-14s will learn about pre-war Jewish life, survivor testimony and antisemitism today.

A number of the scholars will also take part in an educational trip to Auschwitz. 

Clubs have delivered their own activities, with events such as a dedicated match between Manchester City and Manchester United after a talk from Dr Noemie Lopian, daughter of Holocaust survivors Dr Ernst Israel Bornstein and Renee Bornstein.

At Arsenal, before the Under-14 Hale End Cup takes place between the hosts, Toulouse, Paris-Saint Germain, Blackburn Rovers, Leicester City and Shamrock Rovers, a short ceremony to mark HMD took place. 

Arsenal players reading a message on HMD 2
Arsenal players reading a message on HMD 1

Ahead of HMD, Burnley’s Under-14s were visited by Holocaust survivor Lady Milena Grenfell-Baines MBE, who shared her experience of fleeing Czechoslovakia as a nine-year-old with her younger sister, and arriving in England via Holland. 

“It was interesting to see that the boys really were listening," Lady Milena said. "I know that sounds strange but sometimes boys of their age can be sat with their eyes in the air.

“They really took the story in and the main message was to do something good when you see people in trouble."

Burnley, Lady Milena Grenfell-Baines MBE

Youngsters from including Tottenham Hotspur will listen to a special talk from a Holocaust survivor, while Liverpool's Academy scholars, who have also met a Holocaust survivor whose family was devastated by the Nazis, continue to learn through education.

AFC Bournemouth players met Cherries fan Lily Ebert, a Holocaust survivor and one of the world’s most foremost educators on the genocide. Staff also attended a session with the charity Maccabi GB, in which the focus was on educating them about the historical context and contemporary manifestations of antisemitism.

The Under-14s from Crystal Palace and Southampton will share a Shiva lunch, the traditional Jewish meal of condolence, on Sunday, when they face each other. 

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