Football fans lay wreaths at Dachau to commemorate Nazi victims

Fans from Scotland, Ukraine, Germany, Israel and other nations laid wreaths at the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site to commemorate victims of the Nazis, vowing “never again” and to use football as a force to unite people.

The group toured the camp and heard how the Nazis had persecuted Jewish footballers 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 football 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.

“It is a somber place. You walk in and it is an uncomfortable feeling. But I think this sort of service is important to remember what happened, to make sure we learn from mistakes… it has opened our minds to a lot of things,” said Cole Cattanach, 21, a Scottish student from Falkirk, travelling through Germany to support the Scotland team.

Andreas Erbel, representing German football fans, said he came to the commemoration to help protect democracy.

“I wanted to show that there is also a counterweight to the move to the right across Europe, that there are more people… who are open to the world.”

“During Euro 2024 many people will come to us in Germany and it is a chance for us to live out this togetherness.”

In the 12 years before its liberation by American soldiers in 1945, over 200,000 people were imprisoned at Dachau, among them the Jewish president of Bayern Munich soccer club Kurt Landauer. At least 41,500 died at in the camp and its satellite sites.


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