Congratulations to Germany for its win in the 2014 World Cup. A friend and a cousin were both in Germany at the time and say that the country went wild. Of course, I was a bit disappointed that the Netherlands wasn’t in the final.
Soccer is hardly new to Germany, though. There were many clubs throughout the country even prior to Hitler’s rise. After he took power, communist clubs were disbanded. Jews were expelled from clubs, but allowed to form their own. After the 1936 Olympics, Jewish clubs were forbidden.
The war brought changes to soccer in the country. Because it was felt that soccer was important to morale, play continued, including championships. As the war continued, changes were made. With fuel rationing, teams could only play within a certain radius of their home. Many of the young men who played were drafted into the military; thus, military clubs sprang up. The Luftwaffe and SS fielded strong teams. As these men were lost in battle, some clubs were unable to field teams. The last championship was played in 1944, despite almost constant bombing. Again, the Nazis felt soccer, by now the #1 sport in Germany, was vital to morale.
Even today, the ramifications of the war touch soccer. In 2009, the Mercedes Benz Arena in Stuttgart was being remodeled. Not long into the work, 18 unexploded bombs were discovered near the stadium. Apparently, they were dropped there by the English in 1944 during a bombing raid targeting the nearby Mercedes Benz factory. Imagine – all of those years, and they were playing soccer near unexploded bombs!
Did you follow the World Cup at all? Who did you root for?