“Never again” was the phrase of the day.
Bayern Munich were well represented by a group of fans at Auschwitz memorial this past weekend as part of a remembrance project called Erinnerung vereint (“Remembrance unites”). The project is a collaboration of many organizations, including the National Socialism Documentation Center, the Church of Reconciliation at Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site, the Jewish Museum and the FC Bayern Erlebniswelt, and it is also funded by the Deutscher Fussball Liga (DFL).
The fifteen-person fan group set off for Poland on Friday and will visit other memorials in addition to the Auschwitz I and II sites, including Krakow and the Jewish Center in Oświęcim. The group is smaller than the first group that visited two years ago (twenty four compared to fifteen), but the journey is as important as ever.
Raymond Aumann, a Bayern fan club coordinator and a key initiator of the project, will lay a wreath on behalf of the club in front of Auschwitz’s infamous “death wall,” where inmates were executed more than seven decades ago. Aumann did the same last year when he accompanied the Bayern fans to Poland.
“FC Bayern resolutely opposes forgetting the crimes during National Socialism and condemns all current forms of racism,” said Aumann, speaking to FCBayern.com. “It is our social responsibility to actively continue the remembrance and anti-discrimination efforts.”
As many are probably aware, FC Bayern has a painful history with the Nazis. Then-club president Kurt Landauer was forced into exile because of his Jewish heritage, and the club itself was derided as a “Jews’ club.” As a result, Bayern’s development came to an abrupt halt during the Third Reich, and the club would not taste glory until after the Second World War, when Landauer thankfully returned to Munich after surviving his imprisonment in Dachau.
It is therefore only natural that Bayern actively promotes the remembrance of the many victims of Nazism. The Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust opened a temporary exhibit in light of the club’s visit to the city last July, extending through to September.
In a time when political chaos is engulfing a good chunk of the world, it is heartwarming to see ordinary fans get together for one of the most important causes in Germany, a cause that extends to the world as a whole in its broader themes such as racism and discrimination. As Karl-Heinz Rummenigge proclaimed at the club’s Annual General Meeting last year, “We’re concerned by the most recent incidents of racism. There’s only one thing FC Bayern has for racism: the red card!”
Here’s hoping that Bayern’s global reputation will draw more people to this cause, remembering a tragedy that should never, under any circumstances, happen again.