Chelsea FC Launch Educational Exhibition About Jewish Athletes During Holocaust
On December 9, 2020 Chelsea Football Club, in partnership with British publication Jewish News and acclaimed British-Israli street artist Solomon Souza, launched an exhibition called “49 Flames – Jewish Athletes and the Holocaust,” according to a press release from Chelsea FC.
According to Chelsea FC, the club and its owner Roman Abramovich, commissioned the exhibition “to create a commemorative mural of Jewish football players who perished during the Holocaust.” The final piece was unveiled at an event at Stamford Bridge in observance of Holocaust Memorial Day earlier this year.
Before the exhibition was launched to the public, the Combat Anti-Semitism Movement (CAM) spoke to Chairman of Chelsea Football Club Bruce Buck to learn more about how Chelsea’s ongoing “Say No to Antisemitism” campaign has touched millions around the world. In that interview. Beck said, “At Chelsea FC, we believe passionately in using the power of football to support good causes.”
“Our club owner, Mr. Abramovich, initiated the Say No to Antisemitism Campaign to tackle the scourge of anti-Semitism in the UK and around the world. For us it was a matter of doing the right thing and using the resources we have to contribute to this important fight,” Beck continued.
Souza has since worked with the Club to create an extended version of the exhibition that features Jewish athletes who were murdered by the Nazis during World War II. The virtual exhibit and physical installation are a part of Chelsea FC’s “Say No to Antisemitism” campaign that is funded by club owner Roman Abramovich.
Chelsea said that the name of the exhibit, “49 Flames,” refers to the number of Jewish Olympic medalists who were killed during the Holocaust, bringing to life the little-know history of Jewish athletes who perished.
Ahead of the exhibits debut, Chelsea FC released a video featuring Head Coach Frank Lampard and Women Manager Emma Hayes discussing the project and its significance.
The exhibition’s goal is to tell the story of the Holocaust through the eyes of Jewish athletes. In all, the exhibition features the stories of fifteen athletes, including Alfred Flatow and Gustav Felix Flatow, German Jewish Gold medalists at the first modern Olympics held in Athens in 1896. The cousins, both gymnasts, would die of starvation in the Theresienstadt concentration camp.
Also featured is German Jewish track and field athlete Lilli Henoch, who set 4 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 both murdered.
On the occasion of the exhibition’s release, 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 antisemitism, discrimination and racism, wherever they find it.”
The exhibition also features leading figures from around the world who have spoken out against contemporary anti-Semitism, including President of Israel Reuven Rivlin, Human Rights Icon Natan Sharansky, the UK Government’s Independent Antisemitism Advisor Lord John Mann, Lord Ian Austin, Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog and others. Sharansky, Mann and Herzog are all members of the Combat Anti-Semitism Movement’s Advisory Board.
Lord Mann said of the project, “Football sees itself as a family and in each family, there is a duty, an expectation, a necessity to look after each other and love one another. This is why football has a role in tackling antisemitism…In these difficult Covid times, the unifying passion of football has not surprisingly been immense in lifting people’s spirits. The Jewish community and especially young Jews are no different to anyone else in this.”
Chelsea FC Women’s Manager Emma Hayes commented, “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.”
Chelsea FC has led the world of sport in the fight against contemporary anti-Semitism, becoming the first major sports club to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism. Following Chelsea, the Argentine Football Association, Borussia Dortmund FC and most recently the entire English Premier League have adopted the IHRA definition, among several others. Lord Mann was instrumental in the English Premier League’s adoption of the IHRA definition.
Visit the exhibition at www.49flames.com