Germany's under-21 football team will play their first game in the European Championship in Poland in three days. On their way to the tournament, they paid their respects at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Museum.
Many of the Germany players hung their heads low as they walked through the former Nazi concentration camp in Auschwitz. They were on their way to Warsaw, where they play their first game of the Under-21 European Championship in Poland.
"Many emotions came out during the visit. Misunderstanding, compassion, rage - almost everything the human body can summon up," said Germany U21 coach Stefan Kuntz. "The tour was exceedingly informative. What's important is that people should absolutely never forget what happened here."
It is estimated that 1.3 million people were sent to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp during the holocaust, an estimated 1.1 million of whom died. The site was turned into a memorial museum in 1947, one that more than a million people visit annually. Nazi Germany set up the site on occupied Polish territory.
The German national team visited five years ago before the 2012 European Championship, which took place in Poland and Ukraine. With the U-21 Euros set to take place in Poland this year, Germany's U-21 team decided to visit the museum. In the guest book that each of the 23 players signed, they wrote: "Suddenly everything is silent. Suddenly you go within yourself, you are by yourself alone. And the question posed by everyone who comes to this place arises. Why?"
"We felt dejected in some situations because of how unbelievable it was, how people treated other people," said Wolfsburg midfielder and Germany U-21 captain Maximilian Arnold.
"I believe that it will do everybody good to have seen this in person - not only to understand the background and the history via books or the media, but rather to have been there for yourself," said defender Thilo Kehrer, who plays his club football with Schalke.
Germany will take on the Czech Republic in their first group stage game on Sunday at the Municipal Stadium in Warsaw.
dv/msh (dpa, SID)