“Never again is now!”: Under this slogan, German professional football is commemorating the victims of National Socialism on and around 27 January, the date of liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp.
This is the 20th year in which the DFL and the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 clubs have been involved in the “day of commemoration in German football” in cooperation with the “!Nie Wieder” (“!Never Again”) initiative. In light of current events, the day of commemoration around Matchdays 19 and 20 (26–28 January and 2–4 February) will focus on the topic of antisemitism.
“Never again is now!” has been the rallying cry since the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel on 7 October 2023. Not only because this date saw the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust, but also because today – as in the past – Jewish people are finding that their place in society is being called into question, including here in Germany. Antisemitism is on the rise. It is expressed in hate speech on social media, hatred on the streets, threats and attacks against people and institutions. And this development is not leaving football unscathed. Jewish clubs in some locations are no longer able to play matches in safety.
Don’t look away – speak up
In Germany’s history, anti-democratic and totalitarian viewpoints have always been closely linked to antisemitism. With this in mind, there can be no doubt: Anyone who attacks Jewish people and Jewish life in Germany also attacks our values and our democracy. That is why German professional football is issuing a call to people in the stadiums and beyond. Don’t look away – speak up. Against antisemitism and for our democratic society.
Various activities will take place around Matchdays 19 and 20 to mark the day of commemoration, including stadium announcements, banners and events. “The DFL is aware of the considerable social and sociopolitical importance of football,” commented DFL CEO Steffen Merkel. “As set out in the DFL statutes, we and our 36 clubs are committed to values such as respect, tolerance, solidarity, fair play and international understanding, and we expressly oppose all forms of discrimination. To this end, the ‘day of commemoration in German football’ has become an integral part of our match calendar and sends out a strong and unequivocal signal every year.”
Opposition to all forms of discrimination
The DFL encourages regular further training initiatives for employees from the supporter affairs departments at Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 clubs and fan projects via its Fan Affairs department, whose work focuses on combating all forms of discrimination, including racism and antisemitism. A two-day workshop on hate speech and antisemitism on social media was recently held at the DFL’s offices in Frankfurt.
The DFL also provides financial support for work in the area of remembrance, as well as educational projects at numerous clubs and projects via the Pool for the Promotion of Innovative Football and Fan Culture (PFiFF), so that they can shine a lasting light on their history and that of German football. Active remembrance work is also supported by offering local searches for traces of past lives in a number of cities.
Additionally, the DFL has been running educational trips to the sites of former ghettos and concentration and extermination camps such as Theresienstadt and Auschwitz-Birkenau since 2015 in cooperation with the what matters organisation, as a means of supporting and further qualifying the prevention work undertaken at the clubs. These memorial tours serve as a starting point for individual trips and programmes organised by clubs and fan projects.
To obtain additional impetus and facilitate an exchange across the leagues, a group from the clubs and the DFL travelled to London in November 2023, to participate in a conference on combating antisemitism in football.
German professional football uses all of these activities to actively pursue remembrance work and its commitment to peaceful and tolerant coexistence in society – far beyond just one “day of commemoration in German football”.
About the “day of commemoration in German football”
On 27 January 2004, churchgoers signed a letter to the DFL and the DFB at the Church of Reconciliation on the site of the concentration camp memorial at Dachau. This included a suggestion that the two organisations come together with those behind the idea to create a “day of commemoration in German football” to be observed for first time on the matchday closest to 27 January 2005, 60 years after the liberation of Auschwitz.
The “!Never Again” network now comprises a host of individuals, fan groups and fan projects, clubs, associations and institutions from the world of football in particular. Professional football will be taking part once again this year with a wide range of activities on the 79th anniversary of the liberation of the survivors at the Auschwitz concentration camp.
You can also find further information on the “!Never Again” initiative at niewieder.info (German only).
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