According to a news article in the online Telegraph, the England football players stood “transfixed” in front of a photo in the Auschwitz Museum which showed an SS officer, Dr. Heinz Thilo, doing a selection for the gas chambers at Auschwitz-Birkenau. These photos have been added to the Auschwitz Museum since I was there in 2005, so I am not sure which photo they saw, but it was probably a photo from the Auschwitz Album, like the photo below.
The photo above, which is from the Auschwitz Album, shows Dr. Thilo, who is partly hidden behind another man. The place where this photo was taken is midway along the railroad tracks into the Birkenau camp. In the background of the photo, you can see men walking down the road which is to the left of the railroad tracks as you enter the Birkenau camp. This road goes to the two largest gas chambers, Krema II on the left side of the road and Krema III on the right side of the road. Where else could these men be going, except to the gas chamber?
This quote is from the news article:
Roy Hodgson, his close friend Avram Grant and the Football Association chairman David Bernstein, whose father escaped from the Nazis, stared at the picture. Thilo’s arrogant stance, the way he was casually pointing an elderly Jew towards his death, symbolised the Final Solution.
“There was the guy who made all the decisions, whether they lived or died,” said Rooney, talking on the team bus after the seven players’ visit to this hell on earth. “He’s probably gone home after that, listened to music, and had dinner with his family as if nothing had happened. It’s crazy. It’s hard to understand.
There were over 30 doctors who made the selections at Birkenau, including the famous Dr. Josef Mengele. Now there will be a new Nazi doctor to hate: Dr. Heinz Thilo.
In the photo above, you can see the tall chimneys of Krema II and Krema III, in the background, on opposite sides of the train. On the left side of the photo, you can see the building that is shown in the first photo above.
The football players thought that the man, shown in the Museum photo, looked “arrogant.” Maybe the photo above is the one they saw. Note the man wearing a striped uniform in the foreground. This man was a Kapo, a prisoner who assisted the SS men.
These gullible young men from England were taken to Auschwitz for indoctrination in Holocaust propaganda, after a visit to Oscar Shindler’s factory in Krakow where they learned that Amon Goeth had “killed 500 prisoners” by shooting them from the balcony of his house. (They were not told that there was a hill between Goeth’s house and the camp, but Goeth had a special rifle that could shoot over a hill.)
What the football players were not told at Birkenau is that the main road through the Birkenau camp went beyond the gas chambers and intersected with another road that went to the Sauna where prisoners took a shower. That intersection is now covered by the monstrosity called the International Monument, located between the ruins of Krema II and Krema III.
You can see a collection of photos here taken when the England players toured Auschwitz-Birkenau, including a photo of one of the players coming out of the reconstructed gas chamber in the main camp. The news article with these photos includes these statements:
The most harrowing moment came when the players were led into the only surviving gas chamber at Auschwitz. [...]
David Bernstein, the FA chairman and grandson of a Hungarian Jew, shook his head in disgust and despair when he was told prisoners were made to think they were going for a shower when they were asked to take their clothes off and enter the gas chamber.
But the prisoners were not asked to take their clothes off before entering the gas chamber in the main camp because there was no place to put the clothes. Filip Mueller, a prisoner who worked in the gas chamber, removing the bodies for burning, wrote that the victims wore their clothes and even carried their suitcases into the gas chamber.