Berlin has been announced as host city of the 2015 European Maccabi Games.
The first time Germany has hosted the Games, the Opening Ceremony is set to take place in the city’s Olympic stadium – the scene of the 1936 Olympic Games used by Adolf Hitler for Nazi-propaganda.
Believing these Games will therefore be particularly poignant, Maccabi GB Chief Executive Martin Berliner said: “Our reaction straightaway was how symbolic it was. Vienna pave the way for this by sort of taking us to halfway house, it will also be way more than just the sport. We haven’t announced our organisation committee or anything yet, but our initial reaction was should we have a pre-camp programme beforehand. We will be looking to have a meaningful, non-sport programme in addition to the sporting side.”
And looking to put together an educational programme together, he said: “It’s a great opportunity. Some people will probably not want to go, which is what we had with Vienna, but we feel coming back to where the Jews were persecuted and murdered is part of the continuity, especially for our young people to see a lost generation and how fortunate we are, and the freedom we have today.
“There’s talk of having the Opening Ceremony in Berlin’s Olympic Stadium and sitting here [in Israel] in 100degrees heat gives you goosebumps thinking about it.
“Once we get this Maccabiah over, we’ll start the thought process in terms of education,
MGB chairman Michael Ziff added: “I understand there was immense support from the German government, it was a very important decision to bring it to Germany and Berlin and I suspect it will be a great Games.
“I’m very confident that an emotional moment like that will lift the Jewish community. It will have a different effect or perspective on different people but what’s important is for the younger people to be mindful of Zachor. Taking the youngsters to Berlin will give them an opportunity to learn and I suspect they will, and I hope we can win lots of medals too.”