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The bizarre world of East German football

One of the rarely mentioned stories of world football during the period of the Cold War was football in former communist East Germany.The former GDR national team was living in the shadows of the much more successful West German Nationalelf which played memorable matches in the FIFA World Cups in Bern,London,Mexico City,Munich,Madrid and Rome and conquered Europe twice in 1972 and 1980 while won three time the World Cup in 1954,1974 and 1990 just before the reunification with East Germany in the autumn that year.The Ossis never qualified for the European Championships and when it came to the World Cup they made only a single appearance in 1974 when West Germany organized the tournament and in the match between the two Germanies in the group stage the Ossis shocked the world by beating the star team of the Wessies in Hamburg by a single goal scored by Magdeburg’s striker Jurgen Sparwasser.However the Ossis had some success in the Olympic football tournament where they collected two bronze medals (1964 in Tokyo and 1972 in Munich,a gold medal at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal and a silver four years later in Moscow).That were the only successes of the Ossis when it cmae to their national team,but the East German football league-the DDR Oberliga was a much more different story,it was a bizarre world of a football league where the rulling SED Party together with the secret police Stasi had thew final word on everything.Starting in 1948 till the last season in 1991 the DDR Oberliga was just only but a normal football league,starting with the clubs.There were four types of football clubs in the GDR:1.The Dynamos-the clubs with the prefix Dynamo were connected to Stasi like Dynamo Dresden and Dynamo Berlin and they were directly answerable to the head of Stasi which was Erich Mielke,2.The Vorwarts-they were connected to the East German Army or the Volksarmee and they mostly dominated the DDR Oberliga in the 1960s when Vorwarts Berlin won five titles between 1960 and 1969 but because of the rising power of the Stasi they were forced to leave Berlin for Frankfurt an der Oder,3.Traditional clubs-they had no connection to any institution or factory,they were good old fashioned football clubs just like in the West and they were founded to improve the level of play and concentrate the best players in the GDR,those clubs still are in existence and they are 1.FC Magdeburg,Hansa Rostock,Carl Zeiss Jena,Union Berlin,Lokomotive Leipzig and others,4.The Industry teams-they were clubs which represented a specific industrial sector in the GDR-Stahl Brandenburg represented the steel industry,Chemie Leipzig the chemical industry,Traktor Gross-Lindau the tractor industry and so on.One of the characteristics of East German football was relocation of the teams,due to politics of the East German communist regime teams across the GDR relocated to other cities especially in the 1950s and 1960s,in 1954 Dynamo Dresden had to relocate to Berlin,so it became Dynamo Berlin which was heavily favored by Erich Mielke,while Vorwarts Berlin was forced to relocate to Frankfurt am der Oder.Another characteristic was changing the names of football clubs.Three time DDR Oberliga champios SC Wismut Aue was forced to change its name to SC Wismut Karl-Marx-Stadt besides it was never near the place,the same went for other clubs in the DDR.Another things was bribing players with with fruit and vegetables,as well as better cars and apartments for themselves and their families which the rulling regime tried to keep them happy.Besides all those characteristics which was a bizarre and strange world of football,East German clubs regurarly participated in European club competitions and built names for themselves.In 1974 1.FC Magdeburg has won the UEFA Cup Winners Cup against AC Milan 2-0 in the final in Rotterdam,while Carl Zeiss Jena and Lokomotive Leipzig reached the final of the UEFA Cup Winners Cup in 1981 and 1987 where they were beaten by Dynamo Tbilisi and Ajax Amsterdam.However when Dynamo Dresden won its sixth DDR Oberliga title in the 1977-78 season,Erich Mielke which was the head of Stasi and a huge football supporter stormed into the locker room and informed the players and the coaches of Dynamo Dresden that next season Dynamo Berlin would be crowned the new champion of the DDR Oberliga,what the players and the coaches didn’t knew is that Dynamo Berlin wouldn’t only just win the DDR Oberliga title in next 1978-79 season but thanks to Mielke and the Stasi the Winerot would establish a domination in the DDR Oberliga which would last for a whole decade until the 1988-89 season thanks to the engineering from Stasi which placed obedient referees and transfered the best players from other GDR clubs to Dynamo Berlin.The Winerot would become the record champions of the GDR only thanks to Mielke and the Stasi,but when their influence began to wane in the late 1980s then Dynamo Berlin began to fall in the DDR Oberliga.With a wind of change coming through Eastern Europe with Glasnost and Perestoika and the fall of the communist system so did in the GDR,with the fall of the Berlin Wall,the GDR disappeared,so did its national team when on the 12th of September played its final match against Belgium which the Ossis won 2-0 with goals scored by Matthias Sammer which would latter enjoy a great career in the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund,while the last DDR Oberliga season played in the 1990-91 season was mostly for the qualifications in the German football system and it was a hard fought one since the prize for the last champion in the DDR Oberliga was a direct place in the Bundesliga.In the end Hansa Rostock which would in the 1990s and early 2000 become a fixture in the Bundesliga became the last ever DDR Oberliga champion and made it to the promised land of the Bundesliga.Howver East German football only recently began its recovery since the problems of transition have plagued East German clubs in the 1990s and 2000s and for years the Bundesliga lacked clubs from the former GDR,but after all these years the future is looking bright for the clubs from the former  GDR.But the bizarre world of East German football is in the history books and won’t be forgotten.

European Football

27th February 2017: Ina Martell - Heute wird der schönste Tag

Ina Martell – Heute wird der schönste Tag
Language – German
Translation – Today will be the most beautiful day

A super cartoon bear adds to this Berlin-based video, with hugely popular (former) East-German singer Ina Martell doing some moves that would possibly break Health & Safety laws today. 16 more words

Punk Football:Union Berlin-East Berlin's cult club

Berlin,the capital of Germany and once upon a time ago during the Cold War between the USA and the USSR the most divided city in Europe and probably the world,a symbol of political division between East and West,Communism and Democracy,Totalitarianism and Freedom,after the victory of the West in the Cold War and the reunification of Germany,became the capital of Germany.When it comes to football everyone knows about Hertha Berlin which is based in West Berlin and during the Cold War was a fixture in the Bundesliga,the same can be said of lesser known clubs from the West Berlin like Tasmania Berlin which was by far the worst ever club to participate in the Bundesliga which spent a single season there and the same can be said for Blau-Weiss Berlin which spent a single season in Germany’s top flight in the 1980s,while Tennis Borussia Berlin spent in total two seasons before going down into lower division and into the wilderness where they are ever since.A more different situation is in East Berlin,from that part comes the record champion of the Dynamo Berlin which was sponsored by the notorious Stasi and which dominated the DDR-Oberliga from the late 1970s up until the late 1980s and there is their rival and one of the rare cult clubs from the former Iron Curtain which gained a huge cult following in recent years-Union Berlin.Born in 1966 after a number of name changes in the Obershoneweide district of Berlin,during the era of Communist East Germany had very few success,most notably in 1968 they won the FDGB-Pokal which was the East German Cup and it was founded by East Germany’s major trade union,while when it came to league competition in Eastern Germany,the Eiserne yo-yoed between the DDR-Oberliga and the 2nd division DDR-Liga and lived in the shadows of the Stasi sponsored Dynamo Berlin.That would change after the reunification of Germany in 1990 with Dynamo Berlin collapsing into lower divisions of German football and the Eiserne experiencing success besides the club was in the late 1990s they came close to financial collapse but nevertheless they have saved themselves and in 2001 they made a surprising run to the DFB Pokal final where they lost against Schalke 04,but it would take another eight years to acieve the dream to reach the 2.Bundesliga when they did in May 2009 when the achieved promotion from the 3.Liga to the 2.Bundesliga and they have become a stable club ever since and are trying to make inroads for a promotion to the Bundesliga as the first club from East Berlin.In all these years the Eiserne have built a loyal and fantastic fanbase which made them the 2nd most popular club in the city,but also they began to attract cult following from across the world.Most notably they built a unique club culture among its fanbase in the city.In 2008 due to a lack of money for rebuilding their Alte Försterei stadium which in that period had to go under extensive renovations,the club’s fans took over the action and rebuilt the club stadium by themselves and by 2013 the Alte Försterei stadium was rebuilt and renovated with the club board selling the stadium to its own fans,also 50% of the club is owned by the fans.Another action took place in 2004 when the club had to raise 2 million Euros to stay financially alfoat and fans started a campaign called Bleed For Union where they successfully raised money to keep the club financially healthy.But most notably the Eiserne and its fans are known across the world for singing Chistmas carols every year inside the stadium.During the Winter break which in German football starts a few days before Christmas Day,on Christmas Eve thousands of fans gather inside the Alte Försterei stadium where they sing for 90 minutes Christmas carols and provide a unique stadium amtosphere not seen in other parts of the football world.Especially the Eiserne have a unique bond with St.Pauli,the cult club from Hamburg and their matches are a display of friendship between Germany’s cult clubs besides they have rarely won any trophies,but nevertheless have a passionate and loyal fanbase which reaches worldwide audience.East Berlin was under Communist totalitarianism during the Cold War but that didn’t stop the creation and the development one of Germany’s cult clubs which after the Berlin Wall came down and with a success on the field combined with loyal fans and a unique club culture has given Union Berlin as a cult phenomena.If you plan to visit Berlin,make sure to go to the Eastern part of the city and the first things you will hear on a weekend matchday is the chant “Eiserne Union” and you will know that it is the chant of East Berlin’s cult phenomena-Union Berlin.

European Football

Stasi Wolf by David Young

Title: Stasi Wolf (Karin Müller #2)

Author: David Young

Genre: Historical/Crime and Mystery

Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre/Allen and Unwin

Published: 22nd February 2017

Format: Paperback

Pages: 416… 633 more words


Narration Between Species: Yoko Tawada’s Memoirs of a Polar Bear, Translated by Susan Bernofsky

Reviewed by Jordan A. Y. Smith

Tawada’s unpredictable, calmly absorbing novel stands out even amidst the double national traditions of Japanese and German literature from which Tawada hails. 2,050 more words


World War II, Krakow and Beethoven (2)

The story of Krakow’s Beethoven manuscripts begins before WW II in Berlin. At that time, the Prussian State Library in Berlin held the world’s greatest collection of original autograph music manuscripts, including those of the most important works by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Schumann, and many other great composers. 642 more words


Man 'who groomed 13-year-old girl for sex' wears balaclava in court

A man accused of abusing a 13-year-old girl more than 20 times appeared in court wearing a balaclava to conceal his identity. 

Hans-Dieter Baumann, 55, was also shackled when he stood trial on child abuse charges in Cottbus, eastern Germany. 221 more words