There is a passionate debate rising amongst commentators over wether the German National football team should visit Auschwitz the former Jewish concentration camp during their visit to Krakow for the Euro 2012 tournament. The issues are complex and the answers are far from straight forward. Auschwitz was of course, the spralling Jewish death camp that the Nazi's employed to murder over five million Jews during the second world war. Today it has been transformed into a museum which attacts many visitors each year. The English football team which are planning on being based in Krakow, has already commited to visiting Auschwitz but for the German team the issue is a lot more complex and to be fair logistically challenging as they will be based in the northern Polish city of Gdansk.
A number of prominent commentators has voiced opinions on this issue with the Catholic and protestant churches expressing the view that the team should visit the site and reflect on the tradgedy that occured there. Dieter Graumann the president of the Central council of Jews in Germany, whose Grandparents were gassed at the site, expressed the opinion that, 'It would send a disastrous message to the rest of the world if the German players were to bypass Auschwitz. 'The young players don't bear the blame, but they do bear the responsibility' is a message that is trotted out by many commentators on the issue, so much so, that it has taken on a trite appearance that suggests little but a lack of understanding. Jürgen Klinsmann the former captain of the German national team, is largely in support of the visit. 'Players such as Özil, Klose, Gomez, Schweinsteiger or Khedira are the idols of today, the role models for so many young people'. 'If they attend a simple ceremony at Auschwitz and are moved by it, then much can be achieved,' he remarked.
The German FA are equally opposed to the idea. They believe that while a gesture of remembrance is the right thing to do, a visit to the site itself may place to heavy an emotional burder on the players which subsequently impact upon their ability to play football. Germany like the other countries playing in this tournament are there to win.
Henryk Broder a prominent Polish born, German-Jewish author is equally opossed to the visit. "What are the footballers supposed to do in Auschwitz? Swear that they're sorry? Explain that this sort of thing can "never happen again?" And has anyone thought about what would happen if the German players visited Auschwitz and became so overcome by emotion that they lost the tournament?" He believes that if some of the players wish to go to Auschwitz, away from the cameras and the media then this decision is a personal one and entirely up to them.
A very complex and difficult topic that appears to have more shades of grey than the camp itself.