Hodgson, accompanied by England's FA (Football Association) Chairman David Bernstein and FA General Secretry Alex Horne, were part of a small FA group that toured the grounds of Yad Vashem. All men were somber and reflective as they listened intently to the taped testimony from a Treblinka survivor, Eliahu Rosenberg, who lost his family in the Shoah.
Yad Vashem, dedicated to educating others of the atrocities that occurred during the Holocaust so that we never forget, is not an "easy" place to visit, and had a massive impact on Hodgson, palpable as he exited the memorial to find a swarm of journalists and media reporters waiting for him.
But visiting a memorial like Yad Vashem puts things all into perspective, and Hodgson's mind was hundreds of miles away.
Seeking exclusive interviews on England's embarrassing loss in the U-21 Tournament, and his thoughts on next year's World Cup tournament in Brazil, the normally aloof Hodgson surprised reporters with his responses.
“If you were to use the perspective that we’ve seen here then you’d find it very hard to get out of bed in the morning. You’d think, 'What’s the point?’ You’d think, 'Why concern myself whether a team I’m coaching ever wins another match?’ It doesn’t work that way.”
Hodgson, whose father served with the Eighth Army during the war, was noticeably sentimental.
"Who knows if there’s a crisis? What is a crisis? When do you have to question things in your life? Is it when your team loses a football game? Is it when you can’t pay your mortgage? Is it when you suffer a death in the family?” He stopped for a moment. “We are going down maybe too philosophical a route, but I found today particularly depressing. Maybe I am in a more sensitive mood than otherwise."
'Lessons that should be learnt'
The raw emotion wasn't any easier to handle for Bernstein either, who found a book at the memorial written by his relative, Jakob Wassermann. The Nazis had ordered it to be burned.
“It was very emotional for me as I come from a Jewish family in London and was born in 1943 so the holocaust has stayed with me for every day of my life,” he said. “Life has to go on but there are lessons from Auschwitz and from here that should be learnt."
The move was one of many such attempts to promote interaction with the communities and countries that are visited by England's national football squad. They visited Auschwitz-Birkenau last year.
Reprinted with permission from Shalom Life