Holocaust survivor Abba Naor visits FC Bayern

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Abba Naor sat in front of a shelf with the FC Bayern Munich chronicle directly behind him when he began his lecture quoting Henrich Heine: "Those who burn books also burn people... Unfortunately, he was right." It was the first of many oppressive moments that evening. Fifty members, fans and employees of FC Bayern came to the *1900 club house at the Campus for the first contemporary witness talk, which the club organised together with the FC Bayern Museum as part of its commemorative work. Bayern's chronicle is a handsome book that was made to mark the club's 111th anniversary and by chance makes a fitting backdrop, as FC Bayern stands for values and has done so unmistakably for more than 120 years.

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It is part of the club's DNA that it also derives an educational mission from its social responsibility. The culture of remembrance is a special concern here. An important basis for coming to terms with the club's history during the Nazi era, for example, was the independent study commissioned by FC Bayern (Public Affairs), because it is a model for dealing responsibly with one's own history. And it is not only about symbolic actions, but also about a decided in-depth exchange. Silence reigned again and again on that evening in the *1900 clubhouse. Naor left pauses so people could somehow grasp the inconceivable - which cannot happen when a 94-year-old survivor of the Holocaust describes what happened to him during the Second World War.

“Life is a fine thing, a unique gift. There is only this one life.”

Abba Naor

Naor was a child with a wonderful life until the age of 13. Then came the invasion of the Wehrmacht in his homeland Lithuania. Pogroms against Jewish citizens followed, a flight in horse-drawn carriages through the forest, life and death in the Kaunas ghetto - the horror did not stop at women and children. "It is my story. I have no other," said Naor, "and I cannot disappear from the world without telling it." In the later years of the war, he and his family were deported to Utting am Ammersee, and he also worked in Kaufering, the notorious subcamp of the Dachau concentration camp. His mother and his little brother, aged five, were gassed; his older brother had already been shot years before. On the Dachau death march, which lasted nine days, Naor was finally liberated by the Americans. He and his father survived. Today, Naor has five grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. "Do you want some good advice from me?" he asks his audience. "Great-grandchildren are the most beautiful thing. You just have to live long enough."

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Naor has been able to keep his sense of humour – and when asked what forgiveness and reconciliation mean to him, he answered: "To be human. And to remain human. We have to respect each other." One cannot "only live in the past - there is also a future". He has been giving talks for 30 years, and because he is a big FC Bayern and Thomas Müller fan, and also has a strong connection to Munich, he gladly accepted the invitation to the contemporary witness talk. "A club like FC Bayern has a certain history," he said. "FC Bayern was not founded today or yesterday – but even before the Second World War. And there was always a good relationship with the Jewish population." The fact that such a club is committed to the culture of remembrance is important, he says: "Sport is the best way to get to know people."

It is always about humanity, Naor said. "Life is a fine thing, a unique gift. There is only this one life." And despite all his bad experiences, "I still believe in people – that's not the worst thing."

FC Bayern is continuing its Red Against Racism initiative:


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