Chelsea Women's Soccer Team hear harrowing tale of Holocaust survivor

In 1945 she was liberated by the British army, after the Holocaust already took the lives of more than 50 of Pollack's relatives.

By JERUSALEM POST STAFF
April 27, 2019 09:20
3 minute read.
Chelsea Women's Soccer Team hear harrowing tale of Holocaust survivor

Holocaust survivor Susan Pollack meets with the Chelsea Women's Football Team. (photo credit: Courtesy)

The Chelsea Women's Soccer Team broke for halftime from their Champions League semi-final preparations to listen Susan Pollack's account of her Holocaust experience.

The Holocaust survivor's visit mirrors the talk the men's team had when they were introduced to Holocaust survivor Harry Spiro, who chillingly recollected his experiences in Auschwitz, the Nazi concentration and extermination camp located in present-day Poland where more than one million people were murdered, most of them Jews.

There can be no better way to help this cause than hear the first-hand account from Susan, of her, her family's and many others' plight at the hands of the Nazis, so in a talk organized by the Chelsea Foundation, in partnership with the Holocaust Educational Trust, she spoke to the squad and coaches in a Cobham meeting room more usually used for meticulous planning ahead of training and matches.

Pollack was born in Hungary in 1930 and was an "avid goalkeeper" as a child. She lost her father during the German invasion of Hungary. Together with her mother and brother, she was sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.

The camp was liberated in 1945, after the Holocaust already took the lives of more than 50 of Pollack's relatives.

"The visit was a reminder of the indomitable spirit of humanity and that while it is incredibly difficult to comprehend how that part of history took place, it is crucial that the story is shared and lessons are learnt and it never happens again," said Team Manager Emma Hayes.

"Chelsea is the leading club in this country at making sure we do everything possible to root out behavior amongst ourselves that is neither tolerated or accepted and we have a role to play to ensure a safe space for our communities to come together and enjoy the game without discrimination and hatred," she added.

Pollack went on to comment after the meeting, "It was a good and different experience to speak to the Chelsea players. For me it helps to talk about it and I want to continue to share the story. If I can make a small dent in opinions and show that people are all equal and how important it is to be inclusive, then it is an honor to do that.

"Any form of racism is unacceptable and if I can make a little change in that kind of malicious belief in people then I will be satisfied. We have come a long way but we must continue and I hope the players will pass on my message," Pollack concluded.

Meanwhile, the Chelsea Football Club celebrated the first anniversary of its global campaign against antisemitism in February in Tel Aviv with UN ambassadors from around the world, led by Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon.

The idea for the campaign, titled "Say No to Antisemitism," first came from Russian-Israeli owner of the team Roman Abramovich, who suggested that a more intense approach to antisemitism is a necessary move for the club. The project is in affiliation with the World Jewish Congress.

Abramovich's idea stimulated the team to take "a comprehensive approach to tackling antisemitism," according to Chelsea Football Club Chairman Bruce Buck in an October interview with The Jerusalem Post.

The project has no deadline as the team plans on fighting antisemitism as long as it takes.

The team faced an uphill battle in mid-January when they were expected to face disciplinary action over alleged antisemitic chanting by their supporters, according to UEFA.

This did not stop Chelsea FC from using their platform, as well as the already-existing campaign, to show their supporters that there is a better way. "People have been saying things that they have been thinking for many years, but never spoke out loud until now," said Buck, who blamed the rise in antisemitism on populism.

Former Chelsea player and current Ligue 1 AS Monaco FC player Cesc Fàbregas told the Post, "It doesn't matter where you're from, we are all different and we have to respect each other, and that is the real truth."

Later this year, Chelsea plans on playing against the US New England Revolution team in a friendly match as part of the campaign, with Abramovich and New England Revolution owner Robert Kraft contributing $1 million each to the campaign.

Tamar Beeri contributed to this report.


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