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Jewish leader slams Auschwitz visit

The Local · 4 Jun 2012, 12:34

Published: 04 Jun 2012 12:34 GMT+02:00

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The delegation included just three players from the national team – captain Philipp Lahm and Polish-born veterans Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski – as well as head coach Joachim Löw, team manager Oliver Bierhoff and DFB president Wolfgang Niersbach.

But Graumann, speaking on Sunday at the community day of the Central Council in Hamburg, accused Bierhoff of "colossal insensitivity and tastelessness." He condemned the failure to organise a visit by the whole squad, as the England team has done.

According to Monday's edition of Die Welt newspaper, Bierhoff, a former international player whose current role involves overseeing the team's public relations, rationalised the small size of the visiting party as an effort to avoid a media circus.

The DFB was keen for Friday’s visit to remain low-key, with the footballing group instructed not to speak to the press, instead leaving a short note in the museum’s visitors book. "For football too Auschwitz represents both a silent tribute and, above all, an obligation to speak," they wrote.

But this effort to downplay the tribute angered Graumann, who lamented a missed chance to "reach out to hundreds of thousands of young people." Particular scorn was reserved for Bierhoff, who Graumann said was guilty of "untold damage."

The controversy is merely the latest episode in a long dispute between Graumann and the DFB.

The Euro 2012 tournament in Poland and Ukraine, which begins on Friday, is the first edition of the continental showpiece to be held in eastern Europe, and has provoked uncomfortable questions for the German football hierarchy over how best to acknowledge the country’s troubled history.

In March Graumann said the DFB would "send a deadly signal to the world" if the German visit to Poland and Ukraine passed without a public act of remembrance.

This angered Bierhoff, who felt that Graumann’s decision to publicly air his grievances had denied the German team the opportunity to be seen to make their own decisions.

"A visit was already under consideration," he retorted. "Of course we will deal with the topic of the Holocaust with the players, whether it be through a lecture or a Kamingespräch (fireside chat)."

That disagreement led Graumann to interpret the modest delegation as an act of "brutal retaliation" by Bierhoff against his earlier criticisms. He also condemned the use of the term Kamingespräch as "intolerable," saying it evoked memories of the giant crematoria used at the concentration camp.

Story continues below…

As well as Germany and England, the teams from the Netherlands and Italy are also planning to visit the memorial at Auschwitz during the tournament. The latter three teams are all based in Krakow, 50 kilometres from the modern-day town of Oswiecim, which Auschwitz is named after.

The German football team was not the only sporting institution to attract Graumann’s ire during his Sunday address. He also reproached the International Olympic Committee, who recently announced that there would be no minute’s silence during the opening ceremony of the London Games for the Israeli athetes murdered during the Munich Olympics 40 years ago.

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Your comments about this article

16:30 June 4, 2012 by Bushdiver
I'm not even German but to be honest I am tired of listening to some Jewish person always moaning about the Holoaust. It was a terrible thing that happened but it is time to move on. Most of the Germans from that era are now dead.
16:43 June 4, 2012 by Berzerker
I agree with Bushdiver. It's time to move on. Football has nothing to do with the holocaust anyway, and Graumann's attempt to connect the two are, quite frankly, pathetic.
16:49 June 4, 2012 by frankiep
I think all but the most deranged lunatics can agree that the Holocaust was an absolutely horrible and revolting thing that should never be forgotten. However, I have to agree with Bushdiver that the hysterics from Graumann here are beyond ridiculous. I mean seriously - "colossal insensitivity and tastelessness", "untold damage", "intolerable" because a few players, and not the entire team, coaching staff, managers, trainers, etc took a tour of the camp over 70 years after the fact? What a joke.
17:06 June 4, 2012 by mslorrya
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
17:16 June 4, 2012 by Szaszigeti
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
17:29 June 4, 2012 by TRJ
I figured when I read the headline that the comments would backlash againt Graumann. In my opinion, he handled his objections poorly and steeped them in hyperbole which is an inustice to the sad memory of what Auschwitz represents. I think Bierhoff's maneuver was handled very well. A small contingent is more respectful and reflects real consideration to me. Two Polish born German nationals along with their team Captain shows that thought went into it-- not just another mandatory press appearance for every squad member. Correct, this generation is not responsible, but it is this generation's responsibility (and every future generation's as well) to never forget. I like that groups from the national contingents are paying respect. And in return, I respect them enough to let them use their own judgment in how to handle the situations. Bierhoff 1 - 0 Graumann.

Mslorrya and Szaszigeti sound liked idiots to attack Jews in general over this one man's statements. If you are going to comment, comment on the story. Don't seize the opportunity to project your intolerance of Jews in general. Of course, for true Jew haters, resisting the urge to be rational is often too much.
17:50 June 4, 2012 by KevinCanada
Is this Graumann guy for real? I can't believe that someone would make such a ridiculous statement. The team and league showed it's respect in a classy way and this man has taken would should have been considered a show of empathy and atonement and turned it into a international condemnation. When will these Jewish leaders accept that atonements so graciously given by the Germans over the decades since the holocaust can come in all different sizes?
18:13 June 4, 2012 by Englishted

Your comment sounds like Holocaust denial is it?

What was Auschwitz then? a holiday camp where do you find your "No gas chambers or crematoriums for mass extermination of bodies."

No neo- nazi here please.


The bombing were a act of war justified or not is not a question for here,but it is somewhat different to planed murder to eliminate a complete race.

I also wrote this without being rude or offensive next time you may want to try .
18:17 June 4, 2012 by William Thirteen
these types of stories always bring out the ugliest of Local readers.


Note to Self: Never use the phrase 'Kamingespräch' when organizing a discussion of the Extermination of European Jewry...
18:31 June 4, 2012 by SchwabHallRocks
I used to wonder why France, Germany, etc. had laws against Holocaust Denial, showing the Nazi symbol, etc.

Now I understand when I read remarks like MSlorrya, Szasz, KosmoNaught, Sayer, et al.

Szaz - your statement is dis-ingenious on many points.

1) Birkenau, next to Aushwitz, was the actual extermination camp;

2) the commandant ot Auschwitz comoplex (Rudolph Hess) testified that up to 2.5 MM were exterinated at the Auschwitz camp complex, at his trial.

3) you are likely Hungarian, given your name spelling, and the Extermination of the 400,000 Hungarian jews in Spring of 1944 is the best documented of all the Jewish extermiations, since Hungary tried its best to avoid sending them to the camps.
18:59 June 4, 2012 by zameenzad
Get over it. This German generations is not responsible for what their grandparents did.

I am amazed that nobody talks about the harsh conditions imposed on Germany by the 1919 Treaty of Versailles, few have any idea about what the victors did to Germany after the Second World War.

West Germany remained without a government for nearly four years, German armed forces were abolished, industrial plants were removed wholesale to other countries or were blown up, and of the 10 million ethnic Germans deported from Czechoslovakia, Poland, Russia and elsewhere, at least 1.5 million died in the process. Hundreds of thousands of German civilians and prisoners of war worked as slave labour in Allied countries.
19:24 June 4, 2012 by Englishted

Must be time for your anti -illusion medicine .
19:33 June 4, 2012 by zameenzad
@ Englishted

read history, if you have been to school for education.

alternatively, crawl back under your rock.
20:00 June 4, 2012 by marke006
The reason the footballers were going to visit Auschwitz was because of the players use of anti-Semitic xenophobic remarks to other players during a match. The idea was to see what those words really meant. If we forget what happened in the 1930's and 40's to the Jews and others that were deemed unfit then we are at risk of such a thing happening again. Words turn into actions. I do think that Graumann may have gone too far when he said that the term fireside chat made a mockery of all the jews killed and disposed of in the ovens. Yes the crematoriums did exit they were built A.J Topf and Sohne the name was printed on the doors of the ovens
20:03 June 4, 2012 by zameenzad
@ Englishted

this might enlighten you a bit in History and seeing both sides of coin..

read on Wikipedia.

1- Sudeten_Germans

2- Forced_labor of Germans in the Soviet Union

3- Expulsion of Germans from Czechoslovakia
20:21 June 4, 2012 by SchwabHallRocks
I used to wonder why France, Germany, etc. had laws against Holocaust Denial, showing the Nazi symbol, etc.

When I read remarks like MSlorrya, Szasz, KosmoNaught, Sayer, et al. I understand.

Now I can add Zameenzad to the list...

I feel fairly certain EnglishTed sees both sides of the coin. His point was addressing Holocaust Denial (e.g., names I wrote above) not the prosecution of the war by the Allies (e.g., Axis bomb Warsaw, Rotterdam, London, Coventry, etc. so Allies bomb Berlin, Dresden, etc. and whether is appropriate).
20:27 June 4, 2012 by ChaseV
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
21:43 June 4, 2012 by SchwabHallRocks
ChaseV -

Why don't you do the math for us and advise how many jews were exterminated?

Or should I just unceremoniously add you to the list of Holocaust Deniers?
21:53 June 4, 2012 by neunElf
Ever notice that the Lest always attack the person and not the argument.

I don't remember the English or Americans walking through Dresden or Hamburg to honor the innocent victims of the terrorist fire bombing campaign.
23:22 June 4, 2012 by Donalbain
Graumann is a fool. Can he not grasp that what he is doing is utterly counterproductive? Football players are marched to Auschwitz like schoolboys when the issue is the behavior of the supporters. I wonder what the sentiment is among the German national team players? Want to bet whether Graumann has won any supporters there?

It is likely that anti-Jewish sentiment will do nothing but grow in the years ahead. Its when the current generation of political leaders and establishment figures, who are capping public feelings, depart the scene that it should really get interesting.

The notion that Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine should be an occasion to memorialize the holocaust was an incredibly incompetent strategic judgment by Graumann in the first place.

Instead of trying to hector and lecture, Graumann and those who think like him should be considering WHY anti-Jewish sentiment is rising world-wide. His emotionalistic spewing will only help guarantee an outcome that he does not want.
23:42 June 4, 2012 by Greysuede
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
00:41 June 5, 2012 by raandy
It would seem that when a delegation wants to visit one of the death camps that they should first contact the German council for Jews to get their blessing or condemnation. I am sure these people meant no disrespect to the victims.

@zameenzad you are correct that the Treaty of Versailles was draconian by anybodies standards. There were nearly 2 million children that died from malnutrition ,and lack of medicines resulting from the French and English blockade of Germany during the time it took for Germany to agree to this or face a revolt by it's citizens.

One wrong does not empower the abused to commit one with out consequences by creating these death camps,however
04:08 June 5, 2012 by hanskarl
The Draconian requisites of the Treaty of Versailles created WW2 and the conundrum of terror upon the peoples of Europe. Nevertheless, as much as I understand the vileness and inhumanity directed toward the Jewish people in particular during WW2 I find Mr. Graumann's remarks disingenuous at best. The very fact that the team took several of their players to visit this site and to show respect toward the horrors of this and other camps should have at least humbled this man. No one in their right mind can deny what took place. Yet to me Mr. Graumann seems quite insensitive in his own right by denying the players willingness to visit and to show respect toward the Jewish people.
04:12 June 5, 2012 by mike_1983
graumann is totally out of line, the team is there to play a football tournement, they are not politicians! they should actually be commended for attending aucshwitz!

it seems he would have attacked them whatever they did!

graumann should resign and a person of sound mind take over! hes obviously not in touch with reality!

the holocaust is so long ago, yes it should be remembered but not turned into some quasi religion!
07:23 June 5, 2012 by Bigfoot76
This man is hurting the people he has been designated to represent. He is too obsessed with his "us against the world" anger to realize his statements, demands and actions are in fact putting the Jewish community at risk of elevated distaste for the like.

When you demand that a group of people do something/give something/say something isn't that similar to what happened during the Holocaust?
08:51 June 5, 2012 by Leo Strauss
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
08:52 June 5, 2012 by starsh3ro
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
11:07 June 5, 2012 by Leo Strauss
The Local

You removed a quote from Xerxes!???
11:24 June 5, 2012 by LecteurX
Quoting Hanskarl #23: "The Draconian requisites of the Treaty of Versailles created WW2 and the conundrum of terror upon the peoples of Europe".

Yeah right.

Look at a map of Germany in November 1938, after the Munich agreement, after years of Hitler "appeasement". Chamberlain of Britain and Daladier of France were sure they had brought "peace for our time". But no, of course that was not enough: the Germans wanted "den totalen Krieg".

And now you have some shameless Hitler apologists like Hanskarl telling us that "the Treaty of Versailles created WW2". Shameless, shameless, shameless.

Oh by the way, back on the story, I also find that this Graumann guy messed up big time. Should have kept quiet this time.
12:19 June 5, 2012 by Leo Strauss
If you are old enough to remember President Ronald Reagan`s two terms in office, then you may recall the controversy surrounding his official memorial visit to the German military cemetery in Bitburg way back in March of 1985. Along with the fallen from the Wehrmacht lie some of their comrades from the Waffen SS. Once this detail was discovered the attacks began from the usual quarters. However, the real impetus behind the massive campaign launched against Reagan was the fact that he had not included a visit to a KZ on his itinerary! Nowadays this is simply unimaginable. I believe that on President Obama`s first official visit to Germany as President elect he visited Birkenwald, for example.

Well, the campaign of pressure against Reagan was intense, and we heard a lot hysteria similar to the comments from Graumann above about how this would send a deadly signal to the world, and other hyperbolic nonsense. In the end, Reagan caved and paid a visit to Bergen-Belsen; however he did remain true to his promise to go to Bitburg.

When asked why he wanted to go there, the President said that he didn`t want to wake again the feelings of the war but rather to celebrate the end of an era, 40 years after the war. He said that Germany were now Allies and Friends. And most moving to me:

He said that a sense of guilt was being forced upon the German people, which he felt was unnecessary- 'Und ich war der Meinung, dass das deutsche Volk ein Schuldgefühl hat, das ihm aufgezwungen worden ist. Und ich halte das für unnöttig.

That was in 1985.

How long should this go on?
12:24 June 5, 2012 by peter douglas
Jewish this,Jewish that people are getting fade up especially here in Germany ,its over 60 years and the Nazi genenaration is long dead, idon,t want my kids to carry the guilt of their great,great grand parents.God knows but Germany has paid its dues and its time our jewish brothers and sisters moved on otherwise the fatigue will creep in and then resentment.lets never forget what happened but let the past be in our history and rub it not our noses at every minute opportunity that arises.
18:33 June 5, 2012 by Englishted

My education was enough to know that " Allied countries." is plural yet you can only name the soviet union ,which was not treated under the Geneva convention as they had not sighed by the Nazis who used those P.O.W.'s to conduct medical experiments on ,and were under orders to kill all "political officers"on capture or surrender.

Which makes it surprising that any German P.O.W.'s came back at all .

I have met and spoken to a German who was taken prisoner at Stalingrad ,he lived in Halle N.R.W. but that was 5 years ago so I can't say if he is still with us.

Many of the thing you say may have taken place but thats what happens when you lose a war of aggression that you start, so maybe it will be never again .

If the European war had not ended when it did I believe the allies may have used the a-bomb over here .

@peter douglas

Well my mother is alive and survived the London blitz ,and my mother in law was also around in the war but on the German side of the fence.

So yes it is history but not so long ago as to be out of sight yet ,and hopefully the newer generations can live together in peace and freedom but if you see some of the earlier comments I do wonder .
19:14 June 5, 2012 by ITAMAR
Every person in Germany or in other countries in the world,any government or organisation take its own opinion on the Holocaust.

The young generation in Germany has nothing to do with the Holocaust.

We the children of the surviviours in Israel will remeber it for ever ,and we have for that a memorial day.

I think it is enough respectable to keep the memorial day every year in Yad Vashem and it is time to stop all students and other missions to Auschwizim

Saying that the fight against the Neo Nazies, those who deny the Holocaust,and those who attack the Jews in Europe must go on.
18:09 June 6, 2012 by cynicoren
I must say, that as an Israeli Jew, I resent Graumann's words. I have a lot of respect and yes, even love to modern day Germany (been there 3 times over the last 2 years). I even learn German, and as most of the writers here, I think not only young (well, 60 or less) Germans are not to blame for anything, I also think, based on the history I read (for example Michael Burleigh's "The 3rd reich") that many Germans of the WW2 generation suffered brutally from the Nazi regime.

But I must ask all the holocaust deniers and Bushdiver (I am tired of listening to some Jewish person always moaning about the Holoaust. It was a terrible thing that happened but it is time to move on.) - Moaning ?Would YOU ever move on?

My grandmother had parents+7 brothers and sisters. She's the only survivor. My grandfather had parents+2 brothers. He was married before the war, lost his whole family during the war.

So, if you were me, WOULD you move on?
16:16 June 8, 2012 by jabulani
Unfortunally it does not matter how many kids...parents or family etc die LIFE GOES ON we cannot dwell in the past. The more advertising about the Holocaust the more fed up people are with the JEWISH PROPAGANDA.

Why dont the jews honouring and talk about the hundreds of thousands dead in Japan with the atimic bomb??? THAT IS SOMETHING TO EDUCATE THE WORLD ABOUT THE ATOMIC DANGER.

We do not have Bush family being feeling GUILTY for the holocaust they cause in many countries and the murdering of inocents??? that is not talk about .

Nobody takes the athletes to the ENGLISH invented concentration camps in south Africa.EDUCATE the world LOOKING INTO THE FUTURE...let the past rest as if not we would continue to create hate, resentment,and negative feelings.

Lets learn lessons from the past as how to respect nations by not being GREEDY and taking advantage of the mases who work for miserable wages while their politicians and great corporations suck their blood !

Wars are created to benefit the few at expense of the many.

These are the people who should be taken to account. And we KNOW who they are.
16:51 June 8, 2012 by Leo Strauss
Today is the 45th anniversary of the sinking of the USS Liberty by the Israeli Air Force AND Navy.

Memorials? Condolences?

00:27 June 9, 2012 by DrGideonPolya
The German Football Association (DFB) should be applauded for sending a delegation to pay respects at Auschwitz. Graumann's comments were offensive and grossly disrespected the respect shown by the DFB.

For anti-racist Jews ((Google "Jews Against Racist Zionism") and indeed all anti-racist humanitarians (Google "Non-Jews Against Racist Zionism") the core moral messages from the Jewish Holocaust (5-6 million dead, 1 in 6 dying from deprivation) and from the more general WW2 European Holocaust (30 million Slav, Jewish and Gypsy dead) are ¦quot;zero tolerance for racism¦quot;, ¦quot;never again to anyone¦quot;, ¦quot;bear witness¦quot; and ¦quot;zero tolerance for lying¦quot;.

That means we must remember past atrocities (such as the WW2 European Holocaust, Auschwitz, the Munich Massacre and the forgotten WW2 Bengali Holocaust in which the British with Australian complicity starved to death 6-7 million Indians - for details see my book "Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History" now available for free perusal on the Web) ) and present-day atrocities (such as the 2 million Zionist-complicit Palestinian deaths from violence or deprivation in the ongoing post-1936 Palestinian Genocide, the 800,000 Palestinian children indefinitely and highly abusively incarcerated in what the Catholic Church describes as Israel's Gaza Concentration Camp; the 12 million Muslims who have died from violence or deprivation in the ongoing, Zionist-backed US War on Muslims since 1990 - for details Google "Muslim Holocaust, Muslim Genocide").
18:01 June 10, 2012 by cynicoren
Comment: #jabulani - you are so ignorant (and unclear, broken English), I don't know where to start. You don't know what "The Jews" (and by saying so, you suggest we all have the same opinions and thoughts, you are so racist you could fit in well in Germany 70 years ago) think about nukes, because : A. You never met a Jew and talked to him about this , and B. Surprise ! we don't have to hold the same opinions. Most people think nukes are bad. You have to be a fool to believe anything good can come out of that. Did the Jews nuke Japan? No, it was the USA. Ask them to hold memorials. Did the county you come from hold Japanese nuke memorials? Bush was feeling guilty for the Holocaust? How many Jews, Gypsies, Poles and Russians did he kill during WW2 ? Maybe he was just a little irritated BECAUSE PLANES CRASHED INTO THE WTC? "Nobody takes the athletes to the ENGLISH..." If the Euro was held in South Africa (well, in the movie you live in it might happen), I'm sure they were taken to those camps. You say ".let the past rest as if not we would continue to create hate, resentment,and negative feelings." but suggest about Jewish propaganda (a clear NS view) as if "The Jews" have a propaganda ministry. You suggest many other racist views, but you urge to forget the past (then remind us not to forget it...) ? How can one forget the past with bigots like you reminding it all the time? #Leo Strauss - A very good comparison !!! 6 Million dead civilian Jews+30 million others, compared to the death of 34 soldiers (and I'm very sorry for any American loss, even today when they die in Afghanistan)? So why the Liberty was attacked? Because American command didn't call it on the right frequency to stay away from the shore. In other words - it was partly the US fault. Israel could've (and should've, it was during the 6 day war) thought that it was a camouflaged enemy ship. What Israel did about it? In May 1968, the Israeli government paid more than 40 million $ for its mistake. The Americans should hold memorials. Israel has admitted the guilt and said it was sorry. Tell me, do you American have a national memorial day to remember the massacre of a few hundred thousands Indians (sorry, Native Americans) ? Judge yourself before you try to judge others. DrGideonPolya - "Gideon obtained a BSc (Hon) from the University of Tasmania, majoring in Zoology and Chemistry". Wow ! what a History specialist! I bet you're as good as a respectable Historian as I'm a respectable Chemist. You wrote so many stupid things, I urge you to come to Israel, learn the truth (not your Internet Truth). Israel killed much less innocent Palestinians than Palestinians killed innocent Israelis. "12 million Muslims who have died..." Ehh, why bother? You believe so hard in your lies of an alternate made up world, I wouldn't want to wake you up. People like you should sleep tight. Or learn history.
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