Wednesday, 22. May 2013 - 16:05
20. 04. 12. - 08:00
Footie fans travelling to one of Poland's Euro 2012 host cities will sit between the Nazi’s first death camp in Poland and a British POW camp.
Just over 1,000 metres from the new Lech stadium in Poznan is Fort Colomb where the Nazi's path towards the Final Solution began with the first tests of Zyklon B gas for mass exterminations.
Initially part of the city’s structure of fort defences, Fort Colomb was turned into a Gestapo prison and concentration camp in October 1939.
By the time it closed, on April 25 1944, over 40,000 Poles had died from being gassed, shot, hung or tortured.
Next week marks the 68th anniversary of its closure.
On the other side of the stadium, about 500 metres away, is Stalag XXI-D a former POW camp, where British soldiers were held.
Three escaped in a truck full of rubbish. After a year on the run they were recaptured and sent to Colditz from where two of them also managed to escape.
The other was killed in the attempt.
"For fans interested in World War Two history, this is an excellent starting point - especially for those interested in the history of the Holocaust," said local historian and author of Poznan 1945, Michal Krzyzaniak.
"It’s a little known fact that the first death camp in Poland was here - most people think of Auschwitz.
"But thousands were killed here, or died from disease and maltreatment," he said.
"And of course it was in Poznan that Himmler first put forward the idea of the Holocaust," he added.
Poznan is playing host to Ireland, Croatia and Italy.
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