NURENBERG, Germany (AP) — There was a long silence after Holocaust survivor Shaul Paul Ladney spoke to some of Europe’s most talented young football players.
Ladney, 86, didn’t even mention that he had completed the half-marathon 10 days earlier. Under-17 players from Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Maccabi Tel Aviv and other top-tier clubs had a lot to tell.
Eight teams representing five countries took part in the Walther Bensmann Memorial Tournament in Nuremberg over the weekend. Chelsea beat Italian side Bologna 3-1 in Sunday’s final, but more importantly, all players took part in the competition to gain new perspectives on tolerance, equality and reconciliation.
Ladni is a two-time Olympian and was a member of the Israeli team targeted by the Palestinian group Black September at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Eleven of his companions were killed in the massacre.
Ladney set the current world record in the 50-mile walk earlier that year. They are engineers, lecturers, professors. He was 8 years old when he was brought to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. he survived.
“Any questions?” He asked the players in a room full of them after talking about their lives for 90 minutes on Saturday.
There were none. The birds chirped happily outside, but there was not a glimpse of the attentive players.
Ladney told The Associated Press, “If I managed (to do) to sneak into his mind through my conversations, I believe I was successful.” “Then I actually managed to do what I was supposed to do.”
Ladney also spoke to players on Friday as they gathered on the stone road outside Nuremberg Castle, organized into groups for workshops, talks or excursions to learn more about the horrors that took place under the Nazi regime. went. Some were brought in to see the infamous Nazi rally ground nearby.
“It’s very important to remember what happened and say it out loud so it won’t happen again,” Maccabi Tel Aviv team manager Leon Asraf told the AP. “Never. For us, for you, for everyone, all over the world.”
German clubs Eintracht Frankfurt, Nuremberg and Karlszur SC from Krakow in Poland, and Cracovia completed the lineup in a competition organized by Nie Weider (Never Again) and Maccabi Germany with the support of European football’s governing body UEFA.
The players also supported it.
“I enjoy learning different stories. For example, yesterday, about anti-Semitism, about World War II, about how Jews learned about discrimination and genocide,” said Chelsea winger Chinonso Chibuse. “I am learning for sure that such Don’t let it happen again that we learn from our mistakes and treat everyone equally.”
Teammate Somato Boniface agreed.
“It has been very beneficial to learn more about what happened in the past to prevent it from happening again,” said the 16-year-old left back.
The tournament is named in honor of soccer pioneer Walther Bensmann, who founded clubs including Frankfurt and Karlsruhe’s predecessors. He also founded the football magazine Kicker which is still popular today. When the Nazis seized power in 1933, Bensmann was forced to resign from the magazine and flee to Germany because of his Jewish roots.
Bensmann criticized the growing nationalist tone of the German Football Federation and saw the Games as a means of building respect and tolerance among nations. The tournament named those ideals after him.
“Sports are of great importance in our society and in Europe, that is, to connect and reconcile. And, as the saying goes, to enjoy the game of football,” said Eberhard Schulz of Nie Wieder. “That’s why we’re doing it, and so we’re confident like Walther Bensmann that we’re doing the right thing. And successfully.”
Ladney was one of six Holocaust survivors to speak to players over the weekend.
Eva Szczepci recounts how she was brought up in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp as a child.
“It is my duty, the purpose of my life, to tell, Shoah, what happened in the Holocaust, that innocent people, my mother, my younger brother, my father, and many, many millions of innocent people, be silenced. They are no more Can tell. And that’s why I’m saying this,” Szepesi said on Thursday, before taking out the names of the teams from a bowl for the competition draw.
Ernst Grubhub details the terror inflicted on the Jewish people by the Germans under the Nazi regime. Grubb himself escaped from the Theresienstadt concentration camp.
Xavi Cohen, who learned to play the harmonica alone at home while her parents worked in Nazi labor camps, told how it saved her life when she was discovered by the SS. Cohen had learned from the radio, so he only knew the music played by the Nazis.
Walter Frankenstein, who, like Cohen, grew up in Berlin, spoke to the players via an online call from Sweden, but he wore a Hertha Berlin scarf to show that his allegiance had not changed, despite his full to be done.
He told the players, ‘Democracy has to be fought every day, especially in the present times.
Now 98, Frankenstein secretly escaped the Holocaust in 1943, when the Nazis deported thousands of Jews from Berlin to Auschwitz.
Tamar Dreifuss only survived thanks to a daring escape made by his quick-thinking mother.
Ladney said “it is not true” that you needed luck to survive the Holocaust – luck alone was not enough.
“To survive the Holocaust, you needed a series of lucky events. I’m glad I was among those who had a series of lucky events,” Ladney told the players. “The real atrocity, I can’t tell The real atrocities were suffered by those who were victims of the Holocaust.”
But Ladni didn’t just speak of the past. He also gave advice to the players.
“Don’t look for monetary success,” Ladney said. “You should enjoy your sport and make your sport a way of life. Still, once you reach your peak, keep on playing, for fun! … Make it something you love to do.” Huh.”
More AP Soccer: More