Auschwitz trip important to Hart

Auschwitz trip important to Hart

Published Jun. 8, 2012 1:00 a.m. ET

Joe Hart has stressed the importance of England's visit to Auschwitz on Friday after revealing his father convinced him to see the former Nazi death camp.

Hart was among the members of Roy Hodgson's 23-man European Championship squad to volunteer to make the 40-mile trip west from their Krakow base on Friday afternoon.

Others will make the much shorter journey to Oskar Schindler's factory just outside the city centre but Hart wanted to pay his respects to the thousands who lost their lives at Auschwitz during the Second World War.

A visit there can be a harrowing experience but Hart was urged to go by his father.


The goalkeeper said: "Ever since Krakow was chosen as the venue, he said, 'You need to go and do this, go and see, experience it'.

"It's hard. I'm not being sick or perverse. You need to see these things to appreciate them.

"It's talked about and you hear people chuck words like 'Holocaust'.

"You need to know what they are. It gives you more of a feeling of the history of this world."

Hart will visit Auschwitz a week after England's squad were given a talk by two Holocaust survivors.

He said: "I've never seen a room so silent and intense, people hanging off every word as these guys spoke about what they did, and what their end message was.

"There was no hate. They weren't angry. They just had that message of how you can be a better person.

"I couldn't get over them, the two guys. They were amazing.

"They spoke at the end about what roles we have as footballers and what sort of message we can hand out.

"It got me. It was great to speak to them. I just wanted to thank them for coming in. Two amazing people."

Revealing what their message was, he added: "They just said that, 'A lot of people look up to you'.

"You forget that. We were looking up to them at the time. 'Treat people as you meet them. Don't judge'. That was more or less the gist of it."

Friday's trip is part of the Football Association's attempt to ensure England immerse themselves in a host country rather than lock themselves away, as they did at the 2010 World Cup.

The team hotel is right in the centre of Krakow and, although there was a heavy security presence when they arrived on Wednesday and when they went to a reception with the city's mayor on Thursday, Hart insisted players were free to come and go as they pleased.

"If we want to go out, I'm sure the lads won't think twice about going for a wander," he said.

"You sometimes need a change of scenery. But we're not here to go sightseeing. We're here to play football."

To that end, England will kick off their Euro 2012 campaign on Monday against France.

English supporters usually outnumber those of their rivals at tournaments but that may not be the case in Donetsk, with many choosing to stay away.

Hart said: "It's just like an away game for us.

"The away support has always been excellent for England. It's like your 12th man.

"You feel you are together, especially away games where the home fans are really vocal and hostile towards you."