Delegations from Germany and Austria visited Auschwitz alongside the European Games ©DOSB

Representatives from Britain and Germany have visited the former Auschwitz concentration camp during the Kraków-Małopolska 2023 European Games here to pay respects to the victims of the Holocaust.

An estimated 1.3 million people, mainly Jews, were sent to Auschwitz from across Nazi Germany-occupied Europe from 1940 until late 1944, of who 1.1 million were murdered.

Auschwitz was a complex of concentration and extermination camps.

It was liberated by Soviet troops in January 1945, and Poland founded the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum on the site of Auschwitz I and II in 1947 in memory of those who died there.

German Olympic Sports Federation (DOSB) vice-president Jens-Peter Nettekoven laid a wreath of flowers on the death wall and signed the memorial's guest book.

He was accompanied by team members including Germany's Chef de Mission at Kraków-Małopolska 2023 Olaf Tabor, along with his Austrian counterpart Christoph Sieber.

"As a German delegation, we see it as an obligation not only to focus on the sport here at the European Games in Poland because of our history," Nettekoven said.

"In the name of German sport, we bow to the victims of National Socialism and promise that we will not be forgotten.

"Instead, we will do everything we can to make our contribution in and with sport to overcoming borders between people, bringing them closer together and allowing them to experience the uniqueness of human community in peace and friendship."

Germany had visited the Khatyn Memorial, a Belarusian national war memorial in a village massacred by the Schutzmannschaft Battalion 118 in 1943, during the 2019 European Games in Minsk.

In 2020, former DOSB President Alfons Hörmann apologised for German sport's silence during the Holocaust.

A group of British athletes and officials including European Olympic Committees Executive Committee member Annamarie Phelps, British Olympic Association chief executive Andy Anson and Olympic curling champion Eve Muirhead.

They paid their respects to the victims of the Holocaust, and reflected on the life of Polish-born weightlifter Sir Ben Helfgott.

Sir Ben survived the Holocaust and went on to represent Britian at the Melbourne 1956 and Rome 1960 Olympics, winning a Commonwealth Games bronze medal for England at Cardiff 1958.

He is one of two Holocaust survivors to compete at the Olympic Games.

The British delegation reflected on the life of Holocaust survivor Sir Ben Helfgott, who represented Britain at two Olympics and died earlier this month ©Getty Images
The British delegation reflected on the life of Holocaust survivor Sir Ben Helfgott, who represented Britain at two Olympics and died earlier this month ©Getty Images

Sir Ben died earlier this month aged 93.

BOA spokesperson Scott Field emphasised the significance of the British delegation's visit.

"In recognising the legacy and diversity of our great Olympians, we wanted to take time to visit the former Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, and pause to reflect on the great loss suffered by the Jewish community," Field said, as reported by the Jewish Chronicle.

"This is particularly important given where we are currently competing, in nearby Kraków, and even more so given the sad passing of Sir Ben Helfgott, who truly embodied the values and spirit of the Olympic Movement."

Members of the English and German teams at the men's 2012 UEFA European Championship held in Poland and Ukraine visited Auschwitz prior to the start of the tournament.