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‘This mural symbolises three people who loved football and had dreams involving football and what happened to them can’t happen to anybody again so it will make people think and most importantly make them aware of the problems we still face.’

 – Cesar Azpilicueta, Chelsea Men’s First Team Captain

Julius Hirsch. Arpad Weisz. Ron Jones. 

These are probably not the first names that come to mind when you think about iconic football players, but they ought to be. 

Julius Hirsch was the first Jewish footballer to play for the German national team, earning seven caps between 1911 and 1913. He played for SpVgg Greuther Fürth and Karlsruher FV before retiring in 1923. On 1 March 1943, he was deported to Auschwitz where he perished.

Arpad Weisz was a Jewish Hungarian football player and manager, who was part of the national squad at the 1924 Olympics in Paris. He played for clubs in Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Italy and went on to win the Italian league as coach with Inter Milan in 1930. He also coached Bari, Novara and Bologna, where he won two league titles. In 1942, Weisz and his family were sent to Auschwitz. His wife and two children were killed by the Nazis on arrival. Weisz was forced to work in the camp for 18 months, before he was murdered in January 1944.

Ron Jones was a British Prisoner of War who was sent to E715 Wehrmacht British POW camp in 1942. He became known as the ‘Goalkeeper of Auschwitz’ when he joined the Auschwitz Football League as the goalkeeper of the Welsh team. In 1945, Jones was forced to join the death march across Europe. Miraculously, he survived.

To mark the 75th Anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, Chelsea FC unveiled a huge commemorative mural featuring Hirsch, Weisz and Jones on the outside of the West Stand at Stamford Bridge. The mural was painted by British-Israeli street artist Solomon Souza and was presented to guests at a commemorative event on 15 January 2020. You can see a time-lapse of the creation of the mural here.

Building on our previous work with U15 academy players, Big Ideas was invited by Chelsea FC to give everyone who attended the opportunity to take part in Foundation Stones, a Big Ideas project run in partnership with the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation. Foundation Stones invites everyone to paint a commemorative stone and have it laid within the foundations of the new UK Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre in London. Chelsea first-team players Cesar Azpilicueta, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Anita Asante created Foundation Stones and artist Solomon Souza also made a contribution. Every Foundation Stone is a commitment to remember the past and build a future free from all forms of prejudice, discrimination and hatred. 

Ruben Loftus-Cheek with his stone

César Azpilicueta’s stone

Anita Asante’s stone

These stones, along with thousands of others, will be laid within the new UK Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre in London. To take part in Foundation Stones email FoundationStones@big-ideas.org

One of Solomon Souza’s stones