Matthias Thoma is CEO of the Eintracht Museum in Frankfurt, one of our Sister Cities. His research is focused on educating the world about the history of Jewish heritage and the cultural significance of the German soccer league club. He has uncovered the history of the Eintracht Football Club’s Jewish members and is working to share their stories.
Matthias first engaged with Philadelphia in May 2021, through a virtual IVLP program called ‘Countering Holocaust Distortion and Denial’. From that experience, Matthias said:
“It was great to see how many places of remembrance there are in America and it was great to see how much you can find in Philadelphia.”
On that call, we learned about how that history is being pieced together and shared out, like the Museum’s programming designed to engage youth in their history. They use a theme that everyone knows, football, or futbal as Germans call it, to educate students about history, politics, and how businesses today are addressing the wrongs of the past.
Matthias told us how, even though there was a deep connection to the Jewish community in Eintracht’s foundation, in 1933 Adolf Hitler started using the club as a tool in his propaganda. In order to get access to play futbal, male youth were required to participate in German Hitlerjugend (Hitler Youth) where they were indoctrinated in Nazi principles.
Matthias’ conversation with Citizen Diplomacy International opened a door for him to work with the Philadelphia Holocaust and Remembrance Foundation. They hosted a program with him in February, 2022 to talk about the history of the sports club during WWII, and the Eintracht Museum’s efforts to memorialize that history.
“Thank you so much for bringing Matthias and his Museum to our attention – we’ve had a wonderful time working with him.” – Sophie Don, Senior Manager, Programs & Operations, Philadelphia Holocaust Remembrance Foundation
Matthias shared his best practices with the Philadelphia Holocaust Remembrance Foundation around Eintracht’s educational programs to teach students and the public about antisemitism. A beautiful exchange of ideas between cities.