On Friday, October 22, 2010, an exciting and exceptional event was held at Beit Theresienstadt, Kibbutz Givat Hayim Ihud. About 150 amateur soccer players from “Maccabi” Argentina and England, together with the staff of the IDF training base 8 and other guests visited the exhibitions at the museum, gathered to meet a ghetto survivor, Peter Erben, who played in the LIGA TEREZINand finally, they played in a memorial tournament for the ghetto victims. The Maccabi teams, which include “masters” (aged over 45), are in Israel for a traditional tour of games and this was the first time they added a visit to Beit Theresienstadt to their itinerary.
After a greeting by Shmuel Varon from the Maccabi World Union, Eldad Shalem, deputy headof Emek Hefer district council and lieutenant colonel Yariv Niv, commander of IDF training base 8, Oded Breda invited Peter Erben, who was welcomed by the audience enthusiastically – with a standing ovation – after they had seen him at the exhibition in the soccer game, shown in the Nazi propaganda film on ghetto Theresienstadt.
Beit Theresienstadt and “Maccabi” prepared a surprise for Peter, who was one of the founders of the institution. Oded Breda, director of Beit Terezin, together with Stuart Lustigman, one of the leading members of European Maccabi gave him a shirt bearing the name of his team in the ghetto (Jugendfuersorge – youth care department) and his name. And soccer players gave him spontaneously additional shirts from England and Argentina.
Anita Tarsi, previous director of Beit Terezin, gave the many Spanish speakers explanations and translations. The singer Liran Goren enthused the audience that joined his singing, which he accompanied by guitar. Not a few had tears in their eyes, listening to Peter’s touching words, who had been an active member (in Czechoslovakia) of “Maccabi”, as they are.
After the official part, all the players entered the well-kept soccer field of kibbutz Givat Hayim-Ihud managed by Phillip of the sport department Emek Hefer; soldiers from IDF training base 8 surrounded the field with colorful flags, creating a festive atmosphere.
The soccer tournament began directed by the “Football State" ” association, established by Moran Gara and his friends, more than 7 years ago. The aims of the association are to further tolerance, personal responsibility and to eradicate violence through amateur soccer games, without referees and without trophies.
All players were divided into 6 mixed teams of English, Argentineans and Israelis; each team received the name of a team in the ghetto. Peter Erben, in a shirt of his former team, kicked the opening shot of the tournament, successfully directed by Itai Kreisberger and Barak Lion. More details, including report on the games, can be found at the Website of "Football State".
The reports are very similar to those that appeared in the children’s newspaper in the ghetto, we even found there a game between “Jugendfuersorge” and “Hagibor” Terezin that in 1944 ended with the astronomic result of 14:1 for “Jugendfuersorge”, whereas at the tournament of 2010 “Hagibor” lost only 3:1. In 1944 Pavel Breda, who was deported to the East and did not return, did not score even one goal, so it says in the children’s newspaper in the ghetto, “Kamarad”. In 2010, his nephew, Oded Breda succeeded to score a goal to enhance the family score and to close a circle after 65 years.
The team “Arsenal” won the tournament; in the ghetto this team was composed of boys who were fans of British soccer.
While the men were running on the field, the women toured the kibbutz and learned the history of kibbutz Givat Hayim (both Ihud and Meuhad) in the 100th year of the kibbutz movement.
The event ended with all guests sitting down for lunch in the kibbutz dining hall, “like in old times”, as told by a member of Maccabi England, who in his youth was a volunteer at the neighboring kibbutz Haogen.
Asaf Stolarz and Stella Sirkin the event’s organizers from “Maccabi” reported the great excitement evoked in the visitors by this day; they intend to include Beit Terezin permanently in the itinerary of “Maccabi” groups from abroad, because “Maccabi” traditions abound in this place.
The project “LIGA TEREZIN” goes on – or as they say, is alive and kicking.