Chelsea Women took time out of preparing for a Champions League semi-final, by hearing a “once in a lifetime” testimony from Holocaust survivor Susan Pollack .
Players at one of the country’s top female football teams listened to the 88-year-old’s story on Thursday in Cobham, at an event organised by the Chelsea Foundation with the Holocaust Educational Trust.
Born in Hungary in 1930, Susan – was an avid goalkeeper as a young child – but experienced antisemitism at a young age, losing her father following the German invasion.
In 1944, together with her mother and brother, she was sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau where more than 50 of her relatives perished, before she was liberated in 1945 by the British Army.
Reflecting on hearing the inspiring testimony, Chelsea Women’s goalkeeper Carly Telford said: “The talk was unbelievable and mind-blowing; to hear a story like that is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“To see how positive she is, is very moving and inspirational and anyone who gets the chance to hear that should take it.”
Chelsea Women manager Emma Hayes said: “The visit was a reminder of the indomitable spirit of humanity and that while it is incredibly difficult to comprehend how that part of history took place it is crucial that the story is shared and lessons are learnt and it never happens again.”
Reflecting on speaking to the Chelsea Women’s side, Susan said: “It was a good and different experience.
“If I can make a small dent in opinions and show that people are all equal and how important it is to be inclusive then it is an honour to do that.
“We must continue and I hope the players will pass on my message.”
This comes in the wake of a campaign launched by the London club in 2018 to stamp out antisemitism and racism, which had the support of Jewish owner, Roman Abramovich, as well as the World Jewish Congress and British communal groups.
As a part of the initiative, the club will be sending a delegation on March of the Living, a trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau in modern-day Poland, which attracts more than 10,000 participants globally.
Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, added: “For Chelsea to host Susan, as they have with other survivors, sends a really strong message about where antisemitism, racism and hate can lead but also what we can do to make a positive difference to society.”
‘The impact was clearly felt among the players and I think it will be a day they never forget.’