To mark Holocaust Memorial Day, Chelsea FC and the Chelsea Foundation partnered with the Holocaust Educational Trust to welcome Eve Kugler BEM to our Cobham training ground to meet our men’s and women’s squads.
Eve is a 93-year-old Holocaust survivor. Born in Germany, she was seven years old in 1938 when Kristallnacht – the night of the broken glass – took place. Her family was torn apart by the Nazis; her parents survived concentration camps, her youngest sister was forced into hiding, and Eve and her other sister were sent to America and into foster homes.
At Cobham, Eve was greeted by Board Director and Chair of the Chelsea Foundation Lord Daniel Finkelstein. Daniel is the son of Holocaust survivor Mirjam Finkelstein and opened the talks to both the men’s and women’s teams by telling a brief story of his mother’s survival in the camps, as well as sharing with the players the yellow star she was made to wear by the Nazis.
Eve’s vivacious personality and engaging delivery captured the room straight away. She shed light on her experience growing up in Nazi Germany with her sisters and parents, where her home was destroyed and her father arrested. Eve detailed her experience of life in Nazi-occupied Paris with her sisters, before they were sent to foster homes in America, separated from their parents, who were imprisoned in concentration camps.
After Eve concluded her story, players were invited to ask questions. Raheem Sterling asked: ‘Did you ever manage to reconnect with your parents?’. Remarkably Eve shared that the whole family was reunited: ‘We got a postcard in 1945 saying that they had survived, and they did all come to America’.
Speaking about Eve’s talk, Erin Cuthbert said: ‘It was really special meeting Eve. I think it’s great that we’ve got someone to educate us on important topics like this. It’s great that Chelsea Football Club are highlighting it and bringing survivors in to discuss it with us.’
Lord Daniel Finkelstein added: ‘It was an honour to welcome Eve to our training ground to meet our players. I know the impact of her story will be felt by them all for a very long time.
‘Chelsea FC and the Chelsea Foundation are proud to have led the way in bringing awareness to Holocaust education and the dangers of antisemitism in football and society. Just this week our Foundation has been delivering a new education programme around antisemitism to local secondary school children.
‘We are immensely proud of our longstanding partnership with the Holocaust Educational Trust and we thank them for their continued support and for giving us the opportunity to share Eve’s story.’
Eve touchingly concluded her talk to both teams by sharing: ‘Whoever listens to a witness, becomes a witness. You are all witnesses now’.
Chelsea FC and the Chelsea Foundation remain committed to sharing the stories of Holocaust survivors to ensure they are never forgotten.
Karen Pollock, CEO of the Holocaust Educational Trust, added: ‘On Holocaust Memorial Day, we remember the six million Jewish men, women and children who were murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators, and we honour those who survived.
‘We are proud to continue our longstanding partnership with Chelsea FC and to have facilitated this special meeting between the Chelsea men’s and women’s teams and Holocaust survivor Eve Kugler BEM.
‘It was so moving to see the players so engaged – becoming witnesses to Eve’s testimony – the empathy and kindness they have shown can give us hope. We know the powerful role our country’s sporting heroes can play in standing up to racism and anti-Jewish hate, and we thank everyone at Chelsea for taking time out of their busy schedules to shine a powerful spotlight on Holocaust education and remembrance.’