Chelsea Football Club are remembering the millions of Jewish people murdered in the Holocaust, to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.
As part of the club and Foundation’s No To Hate campaign, a number of activities have been taking place to help educate its staff about the past and creating a safer future.
92 year-old Holocaust survivor, Manfred Goldberg, who spent four years (1941 – 1945) between the ages of 11-15 in what he called ‘the world’s biggest atrocity’, paid a special visit to Cobham to tell his story to Chelsea Academy players.
Manfred recalled a knock at the door of his family home in Germany in December 1941 where his Mother was told she had ten minutes to pack a case.
Three days later, Manfred, his younger brother and their mother arrived in Riga, Latvia where they were immediately put on a starvation diet, had their names removed and replaced by a number (His number being 56478 – a number Manfred says he will never forget).
They were joined by a large number of fellow Jewish people of all ages who were ordered to work. Any sign of weakness or struggle was met with very little sympathy or medical treatment. Instead, those who showed signs of vulnerability were sent to an execution site to be shot.
Manfred explained to the Academy Players his first memory of witnessing a woman being brutally shot, just aged 11. What continued was what Manfred described as a daily lottery on thousands of Jewish lives, a lottery in which Manfred’s brother lost when he was unfortunately killed.
After four traumatic years across a number of camps, Manfred was thankfully saved by British tanks and arrived in the UK in September 1946 when he claims his ‘life begun’.
After his moving speech, Manfred was gifted a personalised Chelsea shirt from some of our Academy players.
Goalkeeper Max Merrick, said: ‘Manfred’s story was very moving and touched my heart. He’s such a big character despite what he’s been through and I will take that forward as something we can all follow. Chelsea is a massive Club and by projecting our voice about Manfred’s stories and Holocaust Memorial Day, it shows that antisemitism isn’t right.’
Defender, Noah Hay, added: ‘At Chelsea we have a phrase ‘many teams, one club’ so therefore it’s important that we show we are all together. Manfred has a very powerful but traumatising story and it’s significant that we highlight this and similar stories on Holocaust Memorial Day.’
Another Holocaust Survivor, Janine Webber also visited Stamford Bridge to tell Chelsea staff about her experience, which included living in a hole underground with no daylight for almost a year.
Webber, who also witnessed her brother and mother killed as part of the atrocity, said: ‘I lost most of my family at a young age and I miss them. It’s important to remember them and others who lost their lives in the Holocaust and make people aware so something like that doesn’t happen again.’
Chelsea staff also visited the Imperial War Museum Holocaust Galleries, where individual stories from some of the six million Jewish people murdered in the Holocaust are told. The exhibition documents events in the lead up to the Holocaust, showing how persecution turned to mass extermination and highlights the incredible stories of victims.
A special mural previously created by British-Israeli street artist Soloman Souza to mark Holocaust Memorial Day will be donated to the National Holocaust Centre and Museum as part of a permanent exhibition to continue educating our supporters and wider society on the history and dangers of antisemitism.
As part of the donation, Chelsea Foundation have launched an education programme on antisemitism for secondary schools, in partnership with the National Holocaust Centre and the Holocaust Educational Trust.