Three men who were heroes to many have been commemorated in Chelsea Football Club’s new Holocaust memorial mural at Stamford Bridge.
The 12 metre tall mural, painted by Anglo-Israeli street artist Solomon Souza, depicts three men with different stories, all of whom were interned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Later this month the world will reflect on the 75th anniversary of the liberation camp, as it remembers the 6 million people murdered in the Holocaust.
“This mural symbolises three people who loved football and had dreams involving football,” said Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta.
“What happened to them can’t happen to anybody again, so it will make people think, and most importantly make them aware of the problems we still face.”
The mural was created ahead of this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day, on 27 January, as part of Chelsea FC’s long-standing Say No To Antisemitism campaign.
Heroes immortalised in paint
The three men featured were all footballers, with the intention of highlighting relatable stories for those who make a weekly pilgrimage to see the Blues play at Stamford Bridge.
Julius Hirsch played for Germany seven times between 1911 and 1913 - the first Jewish man to do so. But he was sent to Auschwitz in 1943, where he was murdered in the gas chambers.
Arpad Weisz was a Hungarian footballer, who went on to be chief coach at the Italian giants Inter Milan. His whole family was sent to the camp in 1942, with his wife and two children being murdered on arrival.
He was kept alive because the camp guards wanted to use his labour. But he died there in 1944.
The third man had a different story - and one which he was later able to recount, having survived the Holocaust. Ron Jones was a British Prisoner of War: known as the Goalkeeper of Auschwitz, owing to the part he played in war-time football matches there.
On release, he returned to his native south Wales, here be became a tireless fundraiser for the Poppy Appeal - something he enthusiastically kept-up until his death last year aged 102.
Chelsea Women defender, and England international, Anita Asante said of the mural: “It is about sharing the message that we won’t tolerate intolerance and discrimination in any form.
“For any fan or player to be part of this club they have to support this message and that is a very strong stance from Chelsea Football Club.”
The launch of the mural was attended by leading figures from both the world of football, and anti-discrimination campaigners - including survivors of the Holocaust.
Survivor shares her experiences
H&F Council will hold its own Holocaust Memorial Day event later this month, when survivor Cirla Lewis will share her experiences with an invited audience.
“History is there to teach us a lesson,” said Cllr Sue Fennimore, Deputy Leader of H&F Council. “And the one true lesson of The Holocaust is, simply, ‘never again’. “Survivors have important messages for us about how the hatred and vilification of minorities can lead to abhorrent crimes - and how we must stand together to fight those who seek to marginalise these communities.”
Holocaust Memorial Day remembers the six million people murdered in the Nazi Holocaust. It also acts as a memorial to those who suffered and died as a result of crimes committed in genocides which followed - in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur.
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