German Football At The Olympics : Kalterkrieg Geisterspiele


=======================================================
A virtually-empty WALTER ULBRICHT STADION in East Berlin gave host to one of the strangest international football matches ever contested when, in September of 1959, selections from the rival Deutscher Fussball Bund and Deutscher Fussball Verband met to determine who would represent the “Unified Team of Germany” at the 1960 Olympic Games.
=======================================================

After the Deutsche Demokratische Republik (East Germany) failed to come to terms with the Bundesrepublik Deutschland (West Germany) on how best to field an “all-German” football team for either the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, Finland, or the Games four years later in Melbourne, Australia, in April of 1959 the Deutscher Fussball Verband, the association that looked after the interests of East German football, put forward the idea of a two-legged qualification playoff tie to determine who would represent the International Olympic Committee’s “Equipe unifiee d’Allemagne” at the 1960 Summer Olympic Games in Rome, Italy.

At this point in time, West Germany still would not — nor would it ever — officially recognize East Germany diplomatically. The Deutscher Fussball Bund was by now fully aware that, since the I.O.C. accepted the D.D.R.’s best players as “amateurs of the state” whereas the Federal Republic’s top kickers were forbidden as professionals who accepted pay for play, the D.F.B. Olympischeauswahl would be at a distinct disadvantage in a head-to-head competition with any D.F.V. selection. But the Cold War era had not even reached its zenith and so the D.F.B. readily agreed to the proposal.

Not surprisingly given the political atmosphere that prevailed then, both the D.F.B. and its eastern counterpart, the D.F.V., decided to hold both qualification matches behind closed doors and, thus, initiated one of the oddest episodes in international football history.

=======================================================

=======================================================
The WALTER ULBRICHT STADION, which first opened in 1950 and later had its name changed to Stadion der Weltjugend (Stadium of World Youth) in the early 1970s, was demolished in 1992 in order to make way for a proposed arena in conjunction with the city of Berlin’s unsuccesful bid to host the 2000 Summer Olympic Games.
=======================================================

The first of the so-called Geisterspiele (ghost games) between the would-be Olympic selections of the D.F.B. and the D.F.V. was staged in East Berlin on September 17, 1959. Perhaps symbolically, the East Germans chose to play their home match at the monstrous Walter Ulbricht Stadion, which was, of course, named in honor of the Deutsche Demokratische Republik’s then-current chief of state. Despite the fact the facility had a capacity for 70,000 spectators, the event was witnessed by not even 200 people — a curious mixture of well-armed East German policemen, government bureaucrats and a select handful of journalists.

The trainer of the D.F.V. Olympic outfit, HEINZ KRUEGEL, would later reference the display as, “an insult to sportsmen on both sides.” Meanwhile, the pre-match prophecy of D.F.B. trainer SEPP HERBERGER, the 1952 and 1956 coach of the “Unified Germany” football squad at the Olympics who had remarked that football can be often be cruel to the better team, was proven to be absolutely correct. Despite complete control of a match overseen by a Czechoslovakian (read Warsaw Pact-friendly) referee at the Walter Ulbricht Stadion, the East Germans gave away an own goal seven minutes into the second half and ultimately fell 2-0.

=======================================================

=======================================================
SV Hamburg forward GERT “Charly” DOERFEL, who later played eleven full international matches and registered seven goals for the senior national team of West Germany and worked as a clown after his retirement from football, scored an 83rd minute goal for the Deutscher Fussball Bund side against the East German Deutscher Fussball Verband selection during the tense Olympic qualfication match held at the Walter Ulbricht Stadion in September of 1959.
=======================================================

The return meeting in West Germany seven days later was no more cordial than the first leg. The D.F.B. intentionally misled the media and initially stated the game would be played “in the Duisburg area”. It was only just before actual start of the match, itself, that journalists were driven to the real site, which was the Rheinstadion in Duesseldorf, another massive arena with a capacity for 76,000 spectators.

Outside the ground, security was extremely tight with lots of police dogs deployed to discourage potential troublemakers. The West German public was not exactly pleased with the decision to exclude the public from the Olympic qualifications matches, it should be understood. As for inside the stadium, itself, the Dutch match referee later described the situation as “the strangest game which I led so far.”

Since the Federal Republic of Germany did not formally recognize the German Democratic Republic as a sovereign state, the West German television commentator GUENTER WOLFBAUER was instructed by his bosses before the match in no uncertain terms — the two teams shall be referred to as the D.F.B. and the D.F.V. or the transmission will be terminated immediately!

=======================================================

=======================================================
The massive RHEINSTADION, built by the famous Rhine River in Duesseldorf and originally opened back in 1925, was the long-time home of local outfit Fortuna Duesseldforf but was ultimately torn down in the summer of 2002 to make way for a more modern stadium, the Esprit Arena.
=======================================================

On the field in the second leg, veteran East Germany international forward GUENTER SCHROETER of Dynamo Berlin dispatched a penalty kick before a quarter hour had been played to temporarily lift the prospects of the D.F.V. side. But the visitors would commit yet another critical defensive error which allowed JOACHIM THIMM of the D.F.B. to level shortly past the half hour mark. HEINZ WILKENING, a teammate of Thimm with amateur club SV Arminia Hannover, added a second half match-winner in the 65th minute to give the D.F.B. a decisive 4-1 triumph on aggregate.

“Ulbricht is football annoyed,” gloated the newspapers in West Berlin but, in the end, no German team made it to the Summer Games in Rome after Herberger’s D.F.B. selection lost proper Olympic qualifiers to Finland and Poland, respectively.

Comments Off on German Football At The Olympics : Kalterkrieg Geisterspiele

Filed under Uncategorized

Comments are closed.