Group tours concentration camp as part of German ‘Football and Remembrance’ program, learns about the persecution of Jewish players and coaches imprisoned there Fans from Scotland, Ukraine, Germany, Israel and other nations laid wreaths at the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site on Saturday to commemorate victims of the Nazis, vowing “never again” and to use soccer as a force to unite people. The group toured the camp and heard how the Nazis had persecuted Jewish soccer players and coaches, forced prisoners to play soccer for propaganda before banning it, then allowed only some inmates to play under the camp’s hierarchy of privileges for different categories of prisoner. Fans also heard the children of former camp victims tell their parents’ stories, walked in procession with a Scottish bagpiper. Dachau is half an hour’s drive from Munich’s soccer stadium, where Euro 2024 began on Friday. It was one of the first concentration camps to be set up by the Nazis, weeks after Adolf Hitler took power in January, 1933. (…) Saturday’s event comes amid Germany’s nationwide “Football and Remembrance” program for Euro 2024, looking at how the Nazis murdered athletes and used soccer for their own ends, with tours at historical sites close to the host cities. Soccer at Dachau The Nazi SS guards had photos taken in 1933 showing prisoners playing soccer at Dachau, most likely to try to deceive the outside world that inmates were well treated. Soccer was then banned at the camp until 1943, when the Nazis needed to use the fittest prisoners for munitions manufacturing, and so allowed the sport as a perk. However, Jewish prisoners, at the very bottom of the Nazis’ racist hierarchy of prisoners, were excluded. The soccer pitch on sandy ground was by the camp’s roll-call square. “What we know from survivor accounts is that you could always notice the smell of burning bodies in the air, you saw the perimeter fence, and the emaciated prisoners. These were [soccer] games under extreme conditions,” said Maximilian Luetgens, a historian at Dachau who is leading the historical tours.

via timesofisrael: Soccer fans in Germany for Euro visit Dachau, lay wreaths in memory of Nazi victims