On Friday, Oct 22nd, 2010, there will be a special event in Kibbutz Givat Haim Ihud, Emek Hefer. 5 Maccabi soccer teams – from South America, England, Russia will come to Beit Theresienstadt together with soldiers from Training Base 8 of the IDF Combat Fitness School at the Wingate Training Institute.
The “Maccabi” teams with their ‘Masters’ players (ages 45 and over), are in Israel for their traditional gaming run, lead by the national Maccabi organization and for the first time ever, they will compete against each other not to win a cup, but to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust from Ghetto Theresienstadt.
The tournament, held now for the second time, commemorates the story of the “LIGA TEREZIN”
– the years 1942-1944. The players looked for a bit of sanity and a memory of the life they had before.
At the big yard of the so-called “Dresden” barracks, where ghetto inmates were imprisoned, soccer goals were constructed, lines were painted and soccer teams assembled, bearing the names of their favorite teams or clubs, like “Maccabii”, “Hagibor”, “Hakoach” and others, or simply the designations of their present workplaces. The players, referees and organizers went on with this life “as if” – an attempt, to live in the ghetto while most of its inmates were sent away to the “East”, to the death camps, or died from disease and hunger.
The program of the event:
The teams will visit Beit Theresienstadt, get an explanation about the ghetto’s history and visit a special exhibition named“LIGA TEREZIN – Sport and Youth in Theresienstadt”,
which tells the story of the players and presents a fragment from the game filmed by the Germans for their propaganda film. The exhibition opened last year at the first commemoration tournament, when Avram Grant, for whom the Holocaust bears a special meaning, opened the tournament.
After the visit, a tournament of 7 players per team will take place at the Maccabi Emek Hefer’s soccer court at the Kibbutz. Under the direction of the “Soccer State”’s management, (a committee, established 7 years ago, to promote tolerance, personal responsibility and eliminate violence at amateur soccer games, with no referees and no cups). 6 teams will take part in the tournament and will be called after names from the Theresienstadt’s league.
The tournament will take place in cooperation of national Maccabi, Emek Hefer’s District Council, Israel Ministry of Culture and Sport, the Office for Senior Citizens and Training Base 8.
Throughout imprisonment in the ghetto dozens of soccer teams were established and disbanded, named after workplaces, places from where the players had come, names of famous teams, Jewish and non-Jewish sport clubs from all over Central Europe and even from farther away.
For the memorial tournament six names of teams of youth and grown-ups were chosen that had played in the ghetto:
Nesharim (Hebrew for “eagles”, also called Nesarim)
Was a youth team of a group whose councilor was Franta Maier; he was also the goalie of the grown-up team “Jugendfuersorge” (German for “Youth Welfare”). In the ghetto newspaper of the group titled “Rim-Rim-Rim” its members wrote much about soccer games in the ghetto as well as about their difficult life.
Jugendfuersorge (Youth Care)
This was the group of workers in the ghetto who took care of youth – education, work, welfare. This group (in white shirts) is the one filmed in the Nazi propaganda film. Members of this team were: “Shmudla” Klauber, Peter Eisenberg-Erben, Pavel Breda, Franta Maier, Gruenbaum, Jan Burka, and “Culius” Gruenfeld.
This team was established in the ghetto under the name of the sport organization “Hagibor”.
The name of this team is derived from the “Maccabi” organization that had had branches in Prague, Brno and Ostrava.
This youth team was named for the Zionist youth movement “Blau-Weiss”).
Youth team of fans of English soccer; there were many then in Czechoslovakia.