70 years on, Czechs hail wartime Jewish league

  • AFP, Prague
  • |
  • Updated: Mar 31, 2013 23:26 IST

Locked up in the Nazi transit camp of Terezin outside Prague 70 years ago, Jewish prisoners created their own football league, providing a sense of fraternity in the face of cruelty and horror.

"Playing football, we didn't think of deportation or the stress caused by life in the ghetto," famed Czech novelist and playwright Ivan Klima once said.

Sent to the ghetto aged just 10, Klima played for the children's team "Blauweiss" (Blue-whites). Inside the walls of the Terezin, or Theresienstadt, camp which was originally built as a town-fortress in the eighteenth century by Austrian Emperor Joseph II, the Jewish footballers used their favourite sport as a means of psychological escape from Nazi tyranny.

The Czech Football Association (FACR) recently commemorated the league by finally granting it official recognition.
Between 1941-1945, a total of 152,659 Jews passed through the giant Terezin complex, where the streets traced out a rectangular pattern between former army barracks and other military buildings, and moats cut it off from the rest of the world.


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