“The fact that you died, that somebody killed you – it wouldn’t have made any difference whatsoever.” Ivor Perl, a Holocaust survivor, shared these shocking words with Chelsea Academy U15 players when he visited their training ground.

Ivor, who was a keen footballer as a boy, was only 12-years-old when he was sent to Auschwitz. He and his brother survived but the rest of his family were murdered by the Nazis. After the camps were liberated, Ivor arrived in Britain as part of one of the groups of child camp survivors, known as ‘the Boys’. Ivor brought friends with him for support who also had their own stories of the Holocaust. 

The players learned about the Holocaust in preparation for an international tournament and Auschwitz visit they took later in the month. Ivor spoke to the boys about his childhood, his experiences in the camps and the need to create a world that is free of prejudice and hate: ‘all of you know what hate can do…love can get you a lot further than hate’. 

Inspired by Ivor’s life, the players painted Foundation Stones in remembrance of those murdered in the Holocaust. Their stones will be laid within the foundations of the new UK Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre planned for Westminster. 

Afterwards, Ivor and the players took part in a commemoration ceremony and reflected on the day. They presented Ivor with his own Chelsea shirt, which he absolutely loved (even though he is an Arsenal fan). Like the Chelsea players, you can also paint a foundation stone for the new UK Holocaust Memorial. Get in touch to find out more and to access our digital resource pack. Email us at FoundationStones@big-ideas.org