Chelsea Football Club, in partnership with Jewish News and renowned British Israeli street artist Solomon Souza, are today launching the exhibition 49 Flames - Jewish Athletes and the Holocaust.
Last year, Chelsea FC and club owner Roman Abramovich commissioned Solomon Souza to create a commemorative mural of Jewish football players who perished during the Holocaust. The final piece was presented during an event at Stamford Bridge observing Holocaust Memorial Day 2020.
The club has now worked with Souza to develop an extended exhibition featuring Jewish athletes who were killed by the Nazis during the Second World War. The art installation and virtual exhibition is part of Chelsea FC’s Say No to Antisemitism campaign and funded by Mr. Abramovich.
The name 49 Flames refers to the number of Olympic medallists who were murdered during the Holocaust.
The exhibition aims to tell the story of the Holocaust through the eyes of Jewish athletes. Of the 15 athletes featured, profiles highlighted include Alfred Flatow and Gustav Felix Flatow (fearured in the painting at the top), German Jewish gold medallists at the first modern Olympics held in Athens in 1896. The cousins, both gymnasts, would die of starvation in the Theresienstadt concentration camp during the Holocaust. Also featured is German Jewish track and field athlete Lilli Henoch, who set four world records and won 10 German national championships, in four different disciplines. In 1942, Lilli Henoch and her mother were deported to Riga where they were murdered.
The exhibition includes contributions from leading voices against antisemitism from around the world such as President of Israel Reuven Rivlin, the Israeli politician and human rights activist Natan Sharansky, UK Government antisemitism adviser Lord John Mann, Lord Ian Austin, Karen Pollock of the Holocaust Educational Trust, Jewish Agency chairman Isaac Herzog, Holocaust survivor and champion weightlifter Sir Ben Helfgott, The Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) Sharon Nazarian and others.
Commenting of the launch of the exhibition, Frank Lampard said: ‘Sports has an enormous power to unite people and by sharing the stories of these athletes, we hope to inspire future generations to always fight against antisemitism, discrimination and racism, wherever they find it.’
Emma Hayes added: ‘This is so important as we know that sport has not been immune to the horrors of the past. This exhibition brings back some of the darkest moments of our history. We see the Holocaust through the eyes of male and female athletes from around the world. The stories of Jewish athletes such as Lilli Henoch, Anna Dresden-Polak and Gertrude Kleinova remind us why we as a club and individual sports professionals can never take our freedoms for granted.’