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Czech children's sports team called "Cyklon B" played a Romani team last weekend, organizers apologize

6.10.2016 16:14
Zyklon B. (PHOTO:  Pixabay.com)
Zyklon B. (PHOTO: Pixabay.com)

The first Saturday of October in the Ládví neighborhood of Prague saw a sports tournament held for children living in state-run children's homes. Second place in the category of children aged 13 and older went to a team from the Dolní Počernice Children's Home who called themselves "Cyklon B", the Czech translation of Zyklon B, the brand name of a cyanide-based pesticide invented in Germany in the early 1920s and infamous for its use by Nazi Germany during the Holocaust to murder approximately one million people in gas chambers installed at Auschwitz-Birkenau, Majdanek, and other extermination camps.

"This event, which is doubtless very praiseworthy, is supposed to aid the education of children living in the state-run children's homes, among other things," the editors of the news server Židovské listy (Jewish News) posted to their website. "The organizers could have begun, for example, by explaining to the children why the name 'Cyklon B' is inappropriate and that the Nazis killed their victims using the gas of that name."

The "Shake on it!" ("Ruku na to!") tournament in a variation of volleyball was held for the fourth year in a row by the "ING Bank Fond Nadace Terezy Maxové dětem" (ING Bank Fund of the Tereza Maxová Foundation for Children). Tomáš Jelínek, the former president of the Jewish Community in Prague, drew attention to the case.

"My daughter regularly attends that tournament and she pointed it out to me," Jelínek told the Czech daily Právo. "It's actually a beneficial, good event for these children, but I'm surprised that none of the organizers stopped the children from using that name."

"It didn't seem weird to anybody," Jelínek told Právo. "Paradoxically, that team played against a bunch of Romani guys, among others."

The Czech Freedom Fighters' Union (ČSBS) was also struck by the organizers' behavior. "This error with the name of 'Cyklon B' for a children's sports team is primarily a matter of the adults involved, their lack of education, and their stupidity, a term I am not afraid to use in this case," Emil Kulfánek, vice-chair of the ČSBS, told news server Novinky.cz.

"At a time when so many matters going on around us are being escalated, we must also stop and pay attention to details that seem unimportant so that big, dangerous things do not subsequently grow out of them," Kulfánek said. The chair of the ING Bank Fund, Jindra Machačová, has apologized for the use of the inappropriate name for a team in the tournament.

"Naturally we perceive that controversial name as extremely inappropriate, given its significance and the historical context," the ING Bank Fund website reads. "When we discovered the situation we immediately, on the spot, responded by discussing the inappropriateness of the name they had chosen with the team themselves."

"We greatly regret the situation that has arisen and in future we will make sure nothing similar ever recurs," the ING Bank Fund has posted to its website. Martin Lnenička, director of the children's home in question, has also apologized. 

bau, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Děti, Dětské domovy, Holocaust, Židé



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