Chelsea to join March of the Living thousands

Representatives of Chelsea Football Club will this week take part in the March of the Living in Poland, the latest activity in our Say No to Antisemitism campaign which was launched earlier this year.

The March of the Living is an annual event which brings people from around the world to explore the history of the Holocaust, with thousands marching from Auschwitz to Birkenau, the largest Nazi concentration camp complex built during World War II.

Taking part in events marking the March this year are Chelsea directors Bruce Buck and Eugene Tenenbaum, Sir Steve Redgrave, the Olympic legend and Chelsea supporter who will participate in an ambassadorial role, Avram Grant, our former manager whose father was a holocaust survivor, plus Under-18s’ manager Jody Morris and players from our Academy.

The March, which will be marking its 30th anniversary and takes place on Israel’s Holocaust Memorial Day, is designed to contrast starkly with the death marches which occurred towards the end of the war. As the allied forces advanced, the Nazis withdrew soldiers from concentration camps and the prisoners – most of whom were already starving and stricken by oppressive work – were forced to march hundreds of miles further west. Those who lagged behind or fell were shot or left to freeze to death in the winter.

Harry Spiro, the holocaust survivor who shared his story with the Chelsea players at Cobham back in January, was one of the many who had to endure one of the death marches.

Chelsea’s Say No to Antisemitism campaign is initiated and backed by our owner Roman Abramovich, who wrote the following in the matchday programme on the day of launch:

‘The Holocaust was a crime without parallel in history. We must never forget such atrocities and must do our utmost to prevent them from ever happening again. We can all do something to challenge discrimination at our club as well as within the world around us.’

Bruce Buck said: ‘Antisemitism has been on the rise around the world for some time now and it is in this context, and with the full support of the club’s owner Roman Abramovich, we recently launched an initiative to raise awareness of and tackle antisemitism in all its forms. We are honoured to participate in this year’s March of the Living and pay our respects to the millions of Jews who lost their lives in the Holocaust.’

Avram Grant added: Being the child of a Holocaust survivor and having relatives who died in Auschwitz, it is very special for me to join this March. Auschwitz stands for indescribable sadness and evil, but my father taught me to always remain hopeful. Despite all his struggles, he was the most optimistic man in the world and believed that always, in every situation, there is hope.’

Sir Steve Redgrave said:

‘Sports can play an important role in bringing people together and Chelsea’s efforts to tackle antisemitism is a good example of how clubs can contribute in promoting unity and tolerance.I am honoured to participate in this year’s March of the Living to stand up to antisemitism and honour the millions of lives lost during the Holocaust.’

The official Chelsea website will be reporting on the club’s participation in this week’s March of the Living.