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German team hits back at Auschwitz visit criticism

The Local · 6 Jun 2012, 08:20

Published: 06 Jun 2012 08:20 GMT+02:00

On Friday, a delegation from the German Football Federation (DFB) including coach Joachim Löw and captain Philipp Lahm visited the site of the former camp where an estimated 1.3 million people were murdered, 1.1 million of them Jews.

Poland-born players Lukas Podolski and Miroslav Klose, plus team manager Oliver Bierhoff and DFB president Wolfgang Niersbach also attended the sombre visit to the camp, prior to Euro 2012 to be hosted by Poland and Ukraine.

Niersbach revealed German Chancellor Angela Merkel sent him a positive text message in the wake of the visit, praising the DFB for their initiative in being the first team involved in the European championship to go to Auschwitz.

But despite praising the DFB's visit generally as "a good sign", Graumann, president of Germany's Central Council of Jews, on Monday criticised the DFB for not taking the entire 23-man to visit the camp, 50km west of Krakow.

"More would have been better," Graumann had told AFP. "These people are football idols and their visit would have had more of an impact than 1,000 of our speeches could have had," he added.

Germany play their opening Euro 2012 match in Lviv, Ukraine, against Portugal on Saturday and at their base in the Baltic port of Gdansk, Niersbach said he was bemused by Graumann's comments.

"Honestly, I can't really understand that criticism," said the DFB president. "We had numerous contacts with Mr Graumann, we wanted to send a signal against forgetting and against racism, it was up to us how we organised the trip.

"We have had very good feedback from the international Jewish community and even the German Chancellor Angela Merkel sent me a text message in appreciation of our gesture.

"Let me just say we didn't do this for the public effect or for our image, on the contrary, we wanted to do this trip nevertheless, even if there hadn't been a single camera there. There is an obligation for us, as Germans, to visit the site.

"As far as we were concerned, we paid this visit at the right time and did the right things at the right moment with the right people."


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

09:51 June 6, 2012 by puisoh
Dear Mr Niersbach,

One more applause from my humble self for the effort. Sometimes, in life, no matter what you do and how good you do it, there are people who are just capable of finding fault. Look at it this way, if you are all out to find fault, you will always find it, likewise, if you are all out to appreciate, even the tiny Löwenzahn on the street would make you smile.

Besten Dank.
10:15 June 6, 2012 by laurencelewis
"There is an obligation for us, as Germans, to visit the site" No there is not! German national guilt reaches 'original sin' levels as it is. I am sorry, but Germans born today should shoulder no additional responsibility beyond pointed acknowledgement of history. The atrocities of the holocaust were committed by a limited number of people in a country bearing very little resemblance to modern Germany. Acknowledgement of this is a responsibility all of us have, not just Germans.

It was feral nationalism and racism that lead to the events WW2 and beating a guilty conscience into children and young adults growing up in Germany does nothing but make them resent a punishment which they are not sure they deserve.

I was born and raised in the UK and until two years ago lived there. The acts committed by the British empire 200 years before my birth were horrendous, should I define a national identity based on ages of violent colonialism and oppression. I think not! We need to start looking beyond the borders within which we are born and as such I reject national guilt as much as I reject national pride. Is Dieter Graumann capable of a level of forgiveness he expects in apology from Germans?
12:09 June 6, 2012 by Bigfoot76
As long as Germany continues to allow itself to be riddled by its history, others will always try to overwhelm the country with guilt.

There is a difference between remembering history and living in it.
12:33 June 6, 2012 by green idea factory
@laurencelewis - There IS an obligation for Germans to visit that site, just as there is for Germans to visit - okay, become intimately familiar with - the locations where German-weapons are used now and of course where German troops are fighting. And the same applies ten times more strongly for the Americans and a bit less so for the British - both because of current arms sales, military actions... history.
13:36 June 6, 2012 by laurencelewis
@ green idea factory - You missed my point, I was not talking about an electorate taking responsibility for contemporary political and military decision making. Everyone should be aware of what is being done on their behalf by the governments they elect, that is not in question, although it is open to debate what this means socially and practically. However, no one in Germany below the age of about 65 can be held accountable for the social and political movements in the 1940s and as such responsibility for the actions of their elders cannot be forced on them. This certainly should not happen to the extent that polemic and discussion are inhibited because of cumulative national guilt and taboo-mongering. If anything, forcing people to acknowledge their supposed role in such atrocities will only deter them from the open and free discussion needed to keep the use of military force in check.

People to be educated and informed about, not blamed, for misdeeds they had no hand in perpetrating.
14:06 June 6, 2012 by Cally
Well said "BigFoot76" and "laurencelewis".
15:07 June 6, 2012 by Craptastic
Hear! Hear! I second Cally.
15:08 June 6, 2012 by Jerr-Berlin
re:laurencelewis...excellent comment...there are now three generations in Germany that have had nothing to do with 1933-1945...more bullshit from the "get of jail free holocuast card" people who will slam the Germans and play the "gulit" card ad ininitum...
17:06 June 6, 2012 by raandy
The whining by Mr. Graumann is another ploy to rub guilt into the faces of those who had no part in this matter.
17:20 June 6, 2012 by Leo Strauss
The actions of Graumann and this council are truly disgraceful and a shame to the real victims. Please stop trading on the murder of these people, it is grosteque! Let them rest in peace.

This Auschwitz noise dovetails with the whole Dolphin sub swindel to present a very ugly picture indeed. You know, last week I heard on the radio that the Jewish Council of Germany receives 10 million Euros per year from the German Government. Can anyone confirm this? Perhaps the story was that the government was giving them 10 million more than what they previously got (I am not trying to be provocative in this instance). In any case, this is completely outrageous during these times of austerity and impending economic meltdown.

18:48 June 6, 2012 by jlemboy
I think it was a nice gesture, and somehow symbolic of the further distance that will come from generation to generation. Yes the holocaust was terrible, and yes it should remain a part of German history. But there is a limit--and expiration date--of collective guilt.
19:32 June 6, 2012 by Englishted
Just a question to all the above commentors how many of you have been to a camp?

I have only been to Dachau and it is beyond question a sobering experience and on I believe everyone should visit if possible because no film or book can sum up the despair the place generates even now.(it was not a death camp as such although murder did happen there.)

I wish that schools would run trips to the camps (the nearest ones),not for guilt but just so the children can learn that we ALL must make sure it never happens again .

I think the German team were correct in their visit and I hope many other teams will follow.

Many of you will say it is happening again in some part of the World right now to which I say that is also regrettable but thankfully not anywhere near the scale that was perpetrated in Europe leading up to WW2 and till its conclusion.
21:49 June 6, 2012 by USCowboy
As an American, I know WWII was a nightmare for the Jewish people. I also know it was a dark period in history for the German people. All people must be forgiven, yes you may never forget, but time heals old wounds. We cannot punish everyone. I do not know the entire story of the sport team¦#39;s visit, but are they not doing a greater good? Diplomacy works if you let it. It is good for history that no one ever forgets but it is also time to move forward in life and be human beings that we are.

Michael Friedman

Semper Fi

Marine Corps/Ret.
21:52 June 6, 2012 by Leo Strauss
Feuer Einstellen.

Does anyone really believe that this has anything to do with guilt, or justice or learning or remorse or forgiveness or any other of these noble ideals? Look at the world around you today. This kind of barbarism can happen anytime and anywhere under the right conditions. This wasn`t unique and it wasn`t the first time that one nation tried to kill off another. It isn`t going to be the last time either. Today`s killer was yesterday`s victim and so it shall go until the final round. By focusing on the particulars of `the` Holocaust we are all missing the point: that tomorrow it could be Germans getting murdered by the Jews. Remove Germans and Jews and insert a selection of your choice. Shouldn`t we be trying to figure out how to try and catch our human development up our technological development before its too late?? We are missing the big picture. Go to Dachau, go to Wounded Knee, go to Nanking, go to see some simulacrum in Disney World.

The forced homage, the million dollar pay offs to an interest group, the gift subs: there is a game being played here and if you can`t see that then you are playing yourself. Remember, there are the Nazis and the Not-sees.
22:33 June 6, 2012 by TRJ
I am Catholic and my parents came from two big families. I have 41 first cousins combining both sides of my family and our family reunions stretch to include the cousins of my parents and the children of those cousins. I am 43. My wife is Jewish. Her grandmother was a holocaust survivor. The only one of her family as her parents and all three siblings perished. Her family was from Thuringen. In spite of her family's loss at the hands of Germans, she was pleased her grand-daughter married someone who grew up in Germany and can appreciate its physical beauty. I, however, never fully appreciated the extent of the impact of the holocaust in today's terms until we made our invite list for our wedding. Huge numbers of people from my side. Very few from her family. Three people (her grandmother's siblings) who never lived to have their own families and then those families never having children and so forth meant there was a huge void of people who otherwise would be here helping to fill lives with happiness and to join in our celebration. Multiply the void in my in-law's family times the millions of other families with similar losses and it is a difficult and unsettling thought to comprehend. There are literally tens of millions of people not existing TODAY as a result of the holocaust. It isn't just something that ended in 1945. I cannot imagine 3/4 of my 41 cousins never having existed, yet this scenario is very real for the descendants of holocaust survivors. I cannot so easily dismiss this void with an easy wave of the hand the way so many have expressed the dissatisfaction that this is still discussed today. The void justifies continued contemplation among this generation and all forseeable generations to come.
01:41 June 7, 2012 by raandy
Leo strauss did you leave out the word "with " when you wrote this??

if you can`t see that then you are playing yourself. Remember, there are the Nazis and the Not-sees.
08:20 June 7, 2012 by KerryMann
I am a 61 year old american and history teacher who's WWII soldier father had to take all the pictures for Eisenhower because he wanted it documented and I grew up with the book he helped created from these pictures. But Lawrence Lewis is correct that the young Germans should not have this guilt put onto them. This was part of history and you try to learn from history so you do not make the same mistakes twice. What makes me angry is in the U.S our people committed genocide against the native americans and this isn't taught in our schools about the atrocities that were done to the native americans and it just makes me sick and I am ashamed to be an original german immigrant from 1600's that settled America. But there comes a time where you cannot and should not make people pay for something they had nothing to do with creating. Teach history and learn from the mistakes. This was very serious and an atrocity and my family was persecuted in America because we had a german name but you MUST TEACH THIS HISTORY so it isn't forgotten along with all the atrocities that were committed against the slaves in American and South America. Americans are extremely culpable for allowing the slaves to be treated the way they were along with our native Americans.
14:26 June 7, 2012 by Leo Strauss

In Canada it is even more perverse. The students learn about Native Canadians through their public school career, from primary school through to high school. The high school curriculum goes into great detail about how the Europeans, like the British for example, eradicated the native peoples by giving them smallpox contaminated blankets and alcohol. We also deal with the racist culture of the reserve school system and the child abuse that went on there until recently. You know the routine, white man comes with better weapons, liar-lawyers and a crusading mythology and the rest follows...

The Holocaust has been taught 24/7 since the Wende. Isn't there a Holocaust Day now in Canada?

However, when one tries to apply the same principles and moral standards to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, he gets a visit from the Director who says, `I know you're right but I don`t want a lawsuit`..

For anyone with principles, this kind of cognitive dissonance is unbearable.


I could make a lewd comment about fantasy projection but I won`t. I respect you, my friend. And just to prove it, let me give you this link:


Sharpen your claws with this and the next time you can tear my position to shreds! :)
15:42 June 7, 2012 by raandy
LeoS there is more than one conclusion a person cold draw from the comment

" you are playing yourself" inserting the words, with or to, are not exactly lewd, but thanks for your consideration at my age I am no longer trying to win on the contrary I am trying to loose slowly -:)
17:54 June 7, 2012 by Leo Strauss

I hear you, ra. Lima Charlie.

Still, check out that link I sent you. You may find it interesting.
20:37 June 7, 2012 by nickiskibum
It does not matter what nationality a person is, everyone in the world should visit this camp to ensure nothing like this happens again. It is not about guilt, it is about history and ensuring the next generation understands.

I did history school and got very good marks in it, in fact WWII was my best mark (a while ago now), but to be here, going to some of these places we read about and learn about brings it all home and is something I will never forget.

Good on the team for going, who cares if they all did not go, the publicity and public debate it has sparked is fantastic - now everyone, no matter your nationality, go to a camp and pay your respects - LEST WE FORGET. It can never happen again, any where in the world; education is the key.
19:05 June 8, 2012 by raandy

I did check it out ,interesting is this part of it?

Person A makes claim X.

Person B makes an attack on person A.

Therefore A's claim is false.

20:45 June 8, 2012 by Leo Strauss
@ ra

Hey ra, quit your playin, G. We`re tryin to get us a black-belt in rhetorical Kung Fu here. :)

Glad that you checked it out though. Take a look at `Strawman`. I think that after Ad Hominem and Appeal to Pity it is the most common one that you find here- just review this thread.

Have a good one.
23:44 June 8, 2012 by yuri_nahl
What about The Bombing of Dresden, The Bombing of Cambodia, Concentration Camps in the Boer War (by the British.) Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, etc. etc. etc.

I don't see why Germans keep putting up with this money making pile. Oh sorry, I forgot, Palestine. If you have any questions, Google "the stern gang".
01:05 June 9, 2012 by DrGideonPolya
A very dignified response from the DFB president to the carping and offensive criticism from Dieter Graumann.

We should always remember atrocities of the past e.g. the WW2 European Holocaust in which 30 million Slavs, Jews and Gypsies died and the "forgotten" WW2 Bengali Holocaust in which the British with Australian complicity deliberately starved 6-7 million Indians to death in 1942-1945 ).

We should certainly not ignore the atrocities of the present e.g. the ongoing Zionist Palestinian Genocide (2 million Palestinians dead from violence or deprivation since 1936, 7 million refugees), the ongoing, Zionist-backed US Alliance War on Muslims (12 million Muslims dead from violence or deprivation since 1990, 20 million Muslim refugees) (Google "Muslim Holocaust, Muslim Genocide").

Acutely relevant to football, from Gulf News (6 June 2012): "A former member of the Palestinian national football team remains on hunger strike over his imprisonment by Israel without charge, or trial, despite an agreement that was reached last month in order to end a mass protest by Palestinian prisoners.

Mahmoud Sarsak, 25, has refused food for 80 days, since March 19. He began his hunger strike after his ¦quot;administrative detention¦quot; order was renewed for the sixth time. He was arrested in July 2009 while on his way from his home in Gaza to a national contest in the West Bank." 4.1 million Occupied Palestinians live under Israeli guns without any human rights and 800,000 CHILDREN are highly abusively imprisoned in what the Catholic Church describes as Apartheid Israel's "Gaza Concentration Camp".
03:52 June 9, 2012 by yuri_nahl
@ DrGideonPolya.

Well said.
06:46 June 10, 2012 by snickerdoodle
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
15:40 June 10, 2012 by Leo Strauss

Read Anthony C. Suttons `Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution` and `Wall Street and the Rise of Hitler`. For the Banksters and Elite, the main goal is the establishment of monopolies that they can control. It doesn`t matter if the system is Fascist, Communist, or Klepto-Capitalist, like we are seeing now in the USSA.

I agree with you that the western policy of mass immigration is destructive to the West; but why do you blame the `brown people`? The same banksters are destroying their homelands so that they will come to the West as economic refugees. Who does this benefit? Everytime NATO attacks a country in Africa, the refugees stream into Europe?

Who is doing this and to what end? Cui bono? The immigrants are just pawns here. Think about it.
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