FRANKFURT, Germany -- A delegation from the German soccer team paid tribute Friday to Holocaust victims at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp.
Captain Philipp Lahm, Poland-born players Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski, coach Joachim Loew, German soccer federation president Wolfgang Niersbach and other officials visited the site set up by the Nazis in southern Poland during the German occupation of the country in World War II.
The delegation laid a wreath and signed the remembrance book.
"When trying to come to terms with this cruel and inhuman chapter of German history, we're called upon to recall a phrase by the former German Federal President, Richard von Weizsacker, who said that 'those who shut their eyes to the past, will be blind for the present,' " Niersbach said.
"It is our obligation and responsibility to stay alert and educate the many young players in our clubs, time and again, that anti-Semitism, racism, and intolerance have no place in our society," he added.
Jewish leaders in Germany urged the federation to have the squad visit Auschwitz during the tournament. Soccer officials said such a visit was difficult to arrange because the team will be based in northern Poland.
The visit came a day after Germany beat Israel 2-0 in an exhibition game in Leipzig and four days before the team travels to the European Championship co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine. The full squad will travel to Poland on Tuesday for the tournament, which runs from June 8 to July 1.