The key to the puzzle lies in cell 49 in the basement of the Steinwache museum in Dortmund. The building, which housed the headquarters of the Gestapo, is packed with exhibits that illustrate the sickening apparatus of the pinnacle Nazi death machine.
In one display, the Gestapo guards a group of Jews who line Dortmund’s TSC Eintracht football field. Another picture shows the group filing its way past the Gestapo to the train station where they were transported to Theresienstadt.
Today a parking lot occupies that space. But the memories remain.
Daniel Lorcher, BVB’s liaison officer with the fans shows us the memorials that mark this march. This is where he starts the journey to the Polish concentration camps. 500 friends and fans dedicated to fight anti-Semitism. They are not Jewish and they have no connection to Israel.
Club President Reinhard Rauball explains why the club take this responsibility so seriously. ‘ Borussia Dortmund have around 10 million followers and an average of 80 000 people a game. This means we have to do something for people who are not so informed about things in former times. Especially the very young ones. The people in the Holocaust are getting older and older and it is absolutely necessary that we make appointments between them and elder people who have the experiences.’
Rauball leads by example. He sits with us in the front row at the screening of Liga Terezin at the Borusseum, the club’s museum. This is the 3rd Holocaust related activity the club has organized this quarter.
The key activity in the club takes place in April when a memorial run is held to commemorate the death of Heinrich Czerkus, the Borussia Dortmund ‘Ground Keeper’.
Czerkus stands proudly in a white suit in a row of pictures on the outer wall of the last cell in the basement of the Steinwache. A group of Dortmund citizens rounded up and put to death by the Gestapo one day before the Americans entered the city.
In a message to the fans before the last game Rauball reiterated that this can never happen again:
‘Many people are in the situation where they say I don’t know it, even the teachers didn’t tell me, my parents didn’t tell me and its so long ago, 70 years ago. So its important that we have a place where we get facts and can discuss about what happened. The story till the end of the war, nobody knows it and people don’t believe that it is true. That is what we have to work at.’