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Israeli swimmers win European gold medal only '10 minutes from Auschwitz'

Israeli Olympic Association chair stresses importance of the Jewish state’s historic gold medal adjacent to Nazi concentration camp

Israel's artistic swimming team pose with their gold medals at the European Games, in Krakow, Poland, June 23, 2023 (Photo: Israel Swimming Federation)

The Jewish nation's team of artistic swimmers won a gold medal on Friday at the European Games in the Polish city of Krakow, near the infamous Nazi concentration camp, Auschwitz.

Germany won the silver, while Turkey secured the bronze medal.

Approximately one million Jews were murdered in the Nazi concentration camp out of a total of six million during the Holocaust. 

Israeli Olympic Association chairperson Yael Arad welcomed the Israeli victory.

“An emotional morning with a first medal for the delegation to the games,” Arad said. 

Arad, who won Israel’s first Olympic medal in 1992 in judo, stressed the importance of the Jewish state’s historic gold medal adjacent to Auschwitz. 

“There is nothing more symbolic than standing with your head held high and singing [the Israeli national anthem] Hatikvah just 10 minutes from Auschwitz,” stated Arad. It takes approximately one hour to drive from Krakow to Auschwitz. 

“We promised to carry the memory of our Jewish brethren and that is what were are doing,” she added. 

The Jewish people and Poland share a long and complex history filled with both peaceful coexistence and persecution. Prior to the Second World War, Poland was home to one of the world’s largest Jewish communities. Approximately 90% of Poland’s 3.3 million Jewish citizens perished during the Holocaust.

While some Poles were known to have actively assisted the Nazis, others risked their lives to save their Jewish neighbors. In addition to three million murdered Polish Jews, around three million Poles lost their lives during the Second World War. 

Following a period of a diplomatic crisis between Israel and the current conservative Polish government regarding the memory of the Holocaust, both countries agreed in March that Israeli teen trips to the concentration camps would resume. 

“After a wasted year, we are resuming the teen trips to Poland,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 

“The lessons of the Holocaust can be learned in many ways, but there is nothing better than seeing it with one’s own eyes,” added the Israeli premier. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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