UK & World News
Holocaust Survivors Talk To England Stars
England manager Roy Hodgson has said a talk given to his squad by survivors of the Holocaust provided him with "everything" he "wanted to know' on the eve of Euro 2012.
Hodgson, captain Steven Gerrard and many more of England's players, staff and executives will visit Auschwitz I and Birkenau - mass killing camps established by the Germans during Second World War.
At the same time, other members of the squad will visit Oskar Schindler's Factory next Friday in Krakow, the Polish city the Football Association FA has chosen as England's base.
Gerrard - who has visited Auschwitz before - talked of a "mind-blowing speech" given to the squad on Thursday by Zigi Shipper and fellow Holocaust survivor Ben Holfgott MBE.
"It was very inspirational," said the Liverpool and England skipper, who will lead his country against France in their first Group D game on June 11 in Donetsk.
"It was very quiet and focused during the talk. It was a mind-blowing speech they did; their experience, what they went through.
"The guys enjoyed it. It was very brave, and it showed great character to talk about their own personal experience. It gave everyone a big lift."
Manager Hodgson said the talk from Shipper and Holfgott came towards the end of an extended session in England's meeting room at their Hertfordshire base.
"What interested me", said Hodgson, "is that at the end of a long meeting, it was fascinating to see that none of the players had left the room".
"They all came forward to shake hands with Zigi and Ben. I think that told me everything I wanted to know.
"I thought the two men who spoke two us were brilliant. I liked the way they portrayed their stories, they don't need embellishment.
"The players will be a lot more interested when going to Auschwitz now - than maybe they would have been when they read on a piece of paper that that is what they're doing."
Shipper, 82, was sent to the Auschwitz death camp in 1944 before being sent on a march to the German town of Neustadt, where he was freed as a 15-year-old in 1945.
Holfgott, also 82, was born in Poland and in 1944 was sent with his father to the Buchenwald concentration camp.
After being separated from his father he was transported to Czechoslovakia before being liberated by Russian troops.
He came to the UK in 1947 to be reunited with his sister and went on to represent Britain in the 1956 and 1960 Olympic Games as a weightlifter.
The FA and the Holocaust Educational Trust will produce a DVD for schools featuring England players talking about combating prejudice.