Q & A : East Germany vs West Germany

June 22, 1974 — On his third tour of duty at a World Cup final tournament, the 28-year-old captain of West Germany, FRANZ BECKENBAUER (5) of Bayern Munich, shakes hands with the skipper of the East Germany, BERND BRANSCH (3) of FC Carl Zeiss Jena, in front of the match referee, RAMON BARRETO RUIZ of Uruguay, as well as the two linesmen, ARMANDO MARQUES of Brazil and LUIS PESTARINO of Argentina, prior to the start of the history-making 1974 World Cup First Round, Group One game at the VOLKSPARKSTADION in HAMBURG. (Allsport UK/Allsport)

From the always interesting and, oftentimes, entertaining, “search” entries here at the blog :

Q : “East Germany v West Germany World Cup”


As many are well aware, the contemporary Allied powers, the United States, England, France and Soviet Union, occupied defeated Nazi Germany after the conclusion of the Second World War and divided the country into zones of administration which was under the direction of the joint Allied Control Council.

While the other three nations were working on unifying their zones of occupation with an eye towards transferring the governance of such to the German people, in 1948, the Soviet Union, in dispute with the West over major occupation policies, withdrew from the ACC and stepped up its development of a separate, socialist government in the East.

On May 23, 1949, the Federal Republic of Germany (Bundesrepublik Deutschland) was established by the three Western Allies with Bonn selected as the seat of government.

Shortly thereafter, on October 7, 1949, the German Democratic Republic (Deutsche Demokratische Republik) was installed by the Soviet Union, with the USSR’s section of the divided city of Berlin serving as capital of the DDR.

West Germany, as it was popularly known, never did formally recognize the political existance of the East German state nor engage in official diplomatic relations of any sort with the Deutsche Demokratische Republik.

In fact, in a direct assault on the sovereignty of the DDR, the West German government immediately declared that any East German who could reach the Federal Republic and applied for such would be granted instant citizenship.

Much to the chagrin of West Germany, in February of 1951 the East German government applied for membership of FIFA, the Federation Internationale de Football Association, the governing body of world soccer.

FIFA accepted the East German group, later known as the Deutscher Fussball Verband der DDR (DFV), as a provisional member in October of 1951 with full status following in July of 1952.

Naturally, friendly international exhibition football matches between East and West Germany would not be forthcoming – ever.

Meanwhile, a total of 45 nations entered to formally qualify for the sixteen places at the final tournament of the 1954 World Cup to be held in Switzerland, but a disinterested East Germany did not bother to enter a squad in the competition.

After West Germany defeated a powerful Hungary 3-2 to lift the golden Jules Rimet Trophy in Switzerland, the authorities in East Germany re-evaluated their position and made certain, if only for political considerations, to enter teams in major football competitions from there on out.

On May 19, 1957, at the Zentralstadion in Leipzig, an eager East Germany played its first-ever World Cup Qualification match in front of an official capacity crowd of 100,000 — many claim another twenty thousand or so were in attendance — as Wales was defeated 2-1.

The East Germans, however, would not qualify for the 1958 World Cup final tournament in Sweden. Nor would the DDR earn a place at the table for the next three finals, either. Finally, with the end-competition to be completed, ironically enough, in the neighboring Bundesrepublik, the East Germans managed to book passage to the 1974 final.

Prior to the 1974 final, as the element of chance had it, East and West Germany had never been drawn into the same qualifying group at either the European Championships or the World Cup and, thus, had never met at the senior level of international football.

That changed soon enough (with a surprising result) at Weltmeisterschaft ’74.


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