Croatian Handball Team Visits Auschwitz Concentration Camp

Total Croatia News

Croatian handball team, which is taking part in the European Championships in Poland, decided to spend its free day on January 25, 2016, visiting the Auschwitz Concentration Camp, located 50 kilometers from Krakow, Večernji list reports. “Maybe it seems that it was not wise to go for a trip during a rest day, but this is something you should definitely see for yourself”, said Valter Matošević, one of the coaches of Croatian national handball team.

The day was cold and rainy, and coming to a place where more than a million people were killed certainly was not pleasant. It could clearly be seen on the faces of players who were shocked while passing through the camp, between all the buildings where inmates were waiting for their deaths. “You cannot believe it really happened until you see it with your own eyes. I have read about the camp, watched some TV documentaries, but now that I am here, I feel like crying. When I saw all those children’s slippers and clothes which the Russians found after the liberation of the camp, you have to ask yourself – is it really possible that something like this happened in the 20th century”, said Zlatko Horvat, captain of PPD Zagreb Handball Club.

The players walked slowly, looking at photos of crimes, absorbing every word of the guide who in Croatian briefly explained what happened there. There were tears in their eyes as they came to gas chambers. “The people were brought here directly from the trains and told they are going to take a shower. When they closed all the doors, the Nazis would release toxic gas. Dead bodies were later thrown into ovens. Most of the people were killed in the gas chambers with Zyklon B, while others were killed by starvation, forced labor, lack of hygiene, executions, and medical experiments”, explained the guide.


Željko Babić, the Croatian national team coach, did not want to talk about handball yesterday. “I am very emotional right now. What happened here reminded me of all the terrible events during the Homeland War. That is why every day we should strive for love and peace. I feel great pain seeing this. I cannot believe what kind of people killed all those innocent children. I was particularly touched when I saw the pictures of children who have lost their lives here for no reason”, said Babić.

Photographers wanted the players to make a group photo in front of the famous sign at the entrance to the camp “Arbeit macht frei”, but the players refused. They said they would not feel comfortable being photographed there, out of respect for all those who were killed.


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