The rise of genocide memorials
Members of England’s European Championship squad have visited the former Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camps. This comes as memorials and museums marking the sites of mass killings around the world witnessed an increase in visitors.
A delegation led by Wayne Rooney and England manager Roy Hodgson took time out from training on Friday to visit the notorious death camp Nazi Germany operated on Polish soil after invading its neighbour during World War II.
Another group headed by captain Steven Gerrard travelled to Oskar Schindler’s factory in Krakow.
The visits received a mixed reaction from commentators, with the Daily Mirror’s Oliver Holt saying the “harrowing visit… made an extremely powerful statement” at a time “football is wrestling with new and grave concerns over racism among players and supporters”.
But for the Daily Mail’s Melanie Phillips, it was a “deeply distasteful football PR stunt”, which was “intended to cleanse the besmirched reputation of English football”.
Yet England’s players are not the first footballers to visit Auschwitz. Holland and Italy, who are also camped in Krakow, have already been, as have representatives of the German team.
And they join the millions of tourists who have walked through the iron gates at Auschwitz bearing the legend Arbeit Macht Frei (work makes you free) to pay their respects.
Last year, a record 1.4 million people visited the site, while Holocaust memorials all over the world are also seeing numbers soar.
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