During this month, street artist Solomon Souza is painting a commemorative mural of Jewish football players and British POWs who were sent to Nazi camps, to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day on 27 January.
The artwork is being painted and displayed on a wall on the outside of the West Stand at Stamford Bridge and is part of Chelsea FC’s Say No to Antisemitism campaign. It is funded by club owner Roman Abramovich.
Painting of the 12x7 metre mural began this week and the process of developing the artwork is being livestreamed on this website. The final work with be presented during an event for Chelsea fans and guests on Wednesday 15 January.
Click to watch the live stream of the artwork developing
Chelsea Chairman Bruce Buck said: ‘Millions of people were murdered during the Holocaust. As the living memory of the Second World War fades, the more important it becomes to remember the horrors that took place to ensure they are never allowed to happen again.
‘This year is the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Our club, and our club owner Roman Abramovich, believe it is crucially important to honour this anniversary. By sharing the images of these three individual football players on our stadium, we hope to inspire future generations to always fight against antisemitism, discrimination and racism, wherever they find it.’
Solomon Souza (pictured top) grew up in London and immigrated to Israel in his late teens. He has become known for his art around the Yehuda Market in Jerusalem, where he has created over 250 murals, predominantly featuring famous Israeli and Arab personalities.
Solomon is the grandson of artist FN Souza, whose works are featured in many prominent museums and galleries in London, including the V&A, British Museum and Tate Modern.
Solomon Souza said: ‘I am delighted to be invited to Chelsea and commissioned by Mr. Abramovich to create this project. My grandmother, Liselotte Souza, escaped the Nazis in 1939 and came to the UK, so this piece means a lot to me and my family.
‘Art can be an extremely powerful tool to tell important stories. I hope that my installation at Stamford Bridge will inspire everyone that sees it to challenge and oppose prejudice and hatred in society, at a time when it feels like it’s getting worse.’
The mural will be painted on the West End Wall and portray three football personalities who were sent to Nazi camps:
Julius Hirsch was a German Jewish international footballer who played for the clubs SpVgg Greuther Fürth and Karlsruher FV for most of his career. He was the first Jewish player to represent the German national team and played seven international matches for Germany between 1911 and 1913.
He retired from football in 1923 and continued working as a youth coach for his club KFV. Hirsch was deported to Auschwitz concentration camp on 1 March 1943. His exact date of death is unknown.
Árpád Weisz was a Hungarian Jewish football player and manager who played for Törekvés SE in his native Hungary, in Czechoslovakia for Makabi Brno and in Italy for Alessandria and Inter Milan. Weisz was a member of the Hungarian squad at the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris. After retiring as a player in 1926, Weisz settled in Italy and became an assistant coach for Alessandria before moving to Inter Milan.
Weisz and his family were forced to flee Italy following the enactment of the Italian Racial Laws. They found refuge in the Netherlands where Weisz got a coaching job with Dordrecht. In 1942, Weisz and his family were deported to Auschwitz. Weisz’s wife Elena and his children Roberto and Clara were murdered by the Nazis on arrival. Weisz was kept alive and exploited as a worker for 18 months, before his death in January 1944.
Ron Jones, known as the Goalkeeper of Auschwitz, was a British prisoner of war (POW) who was sent to E715 Wehrmacht British POW camp, part of the Auschwitz complex, in 1942. Jones was part of the Auschwitz Football League and was appointed goalkeeper of the Welsh team.
In 1945, Jones was forced to join the 'death march' of prisoners across Europe. Together with 230 other Allied prisoners he marched 900 miles from Poland into Czechoslovakia, and finally to Austria, where they were liberated by the Americans. Less than 150 men survived the death march. Jones returned to Newport after the war and was a volunteer for the Poppy Appeal for over 30 years, up until his death at the age of 102 in 2019.