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Apr 2004 Journal

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DAVIDSTERN UND LEDERBALL

Göttingen: Die Werkschaft, 2003, 508 pp.

Ludwig Berlin

At the beginning of German football - how could it have been otherwise? - stood a Jew. Walter Bensemann, scion of a prosperous Berlin Jewish family, picked up association football from English boys at a Swiss school and, on his return in 1889, began to propagate the game in Germany, beginning with the importation of a leather football. He became co-founder of Bayern Munich, Eintracht Frankfurt and Karlsruhe FV and pioneered international matches not only between clubs but also between representative teams.

All this information, and much more, can be found in this fascinating, scrupulously research-based book. The book consists of the contributions of a dozen authors, mostly journalists but also historians, psychologists and sociologists, all of whom were born well after the Second World War. The well-illustrated book was edited by Dietrich Schulze-Marmeling, who lives near Münster.

Particularly poignant is the story of Julius Hirsch of the Karlsruhe FGV, German champions in 1910. Hirsch represented Germany many times in the position of inside forward. He met his death in Auschwitz. His Jewish colleague with Karlsruhe and in the German national team was Gottfried Fuchs, who scored ten goals in a match against Russia, a world record which stood for many years.

These are just two examples of the many Jews who as players, coaches, administrators and supporters, contributed so much to German, Austrian and Hungarian football. They are, of course, not the whole story: the Hungarian-Jewish goal-getter Jenö Konrad of MTK Budapest had, in 1930, become trainer of the German champion club Nuremberg. Repeated insults in Streicher's Der Stürmer, published in Nuremberg, prompted Konrad to leave club and town within two years.

This book is a marvellous read. It should be of interest not only to followers of football but also to anyone who wants to expand his knowledge of the political and social scene in Central Europe in the first half of the twentieth century.

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