Soccer Under the Swastika": German Soccer Federati
Soccer Under the Swastika": German Soccer Federation Admits to Nazi PastnewsBy Jack Bell for the New York Times -With the World Cup in Germany less than a year away that country's soccer federation last week released a 300-page report in book form that confirmed what many people had long believed - the DFB as the federation's initials are rendered in German enthusiastically supported the Nazi regime from 1933 to 1945. The book "Fussball underm Hakenkreuz" ("Soccer Under the Swastika") was commissioned in 2001 and written by the historian Nils Havemann a lecturer at the University of Mainz."He was the first to have total access to the DFB archives but the book is a case of half full and half empty Andrei S. Markovits a professor of comparative politics and German studies at the University of Michigan said in a telephone interview last week."It does not exonerate the DFB however. What's amazing is that he argues that not by dint of political affinity that these guys became pro-Nazi but solely due to economic self-interest and human frailty careerism and vanity thinking."Of course all of that existed but it doesn't place it into the context of German soccer which right from the beginning when it was founded in 1900 banned English expressions like 'corner kick' and 'touchline' and was deeply conservative nationalistic and inveighed against the diktats of Versailles. So when the Nazis came to power in 1933 the DFB made a seamless transition from Weimar." Markovits has been a guest professor at several German universities and has been invited to the University of Dortmund during the World Cup. He wrote with Steven L. Hellerman about soccer in this country in "Offside: Soccer & American Exceptionalism." Markovits asserted that after the DFB's centenary in 2000 "the veneer started to come off and then enter the World Cup.""This is certainly not a whitewash he said. "But it does not contextualize things in the right way in my view. What is interesting is that in Nazism the DFB found a good ally a soulful affinity. In Germany this will always be a big deal; not so much in the rest of the world. Brazilian fans going to Germany certainly aren't going to wonder or care what happened during the Nazi era."The book also details how thousands of German Jews were forced out of all levels of soccer. Some including the national team player Julius Hirsch were murdered by the Nazis."It took far too long for this book to be written Otto Schily Germany's interior minister told Reuters last week during the book's introduction at a news conference in Berlin. "The DFB was anything but heroic during the Nazi era; on the contrary there were terrible characters and terrible behavior. The facts are painful and sad but we have to face them." The book gives much attention to Sepp Herberger who joined the Nazi party in 1933 was appointed the national team's trainer in 1937 was rehabilitated after World War II and was the coach when West Germany won the World Cup in 1954 in Switzerland."It was the most important event in Germany becoming the Federal Republic Markovits said of the championship. "It was the birth of the new Germany and in this context they didn't want to dig much. Herberger was a god. He is still known as the Boss. More than a George Steinbrenner. More like a Bruce Springsteen."