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The man who invented Bayern Munich Israel today

2021-04-08T05:49:47.886Z

| World football Kurt Landauer, the mythical honorary president who raised Bayern Munich to greatness, was wiped out of the club's history for being a Jew • Nazi teammates and antisemitic fans "buried" his contribution to the identity of the European champion • A foundation named after him, established in 2017, brought him back to consciousness Kurt Landauer. Years of disregard Photo:  Courtesy of the Kurt Lan



Kurt Landauer, the mythical honorary president who raised Bayern Munich to greatness, was wiped out of the club's history for being a Jew • Nazi teammates and antisemitic fans "buried" his contribution to the identity of the European champion • A foundation named after him, established in 2017, brought him back to consciousness

  • Kurt Landauer.

    Years of disregard

    Photo: 

    Courtesy of the Kurt Landauer Foundation

Most of today's football fans are sure that Bayern Munich, the winner of the Champions League and one of the most decorated teams in the world, has enjoyed top status from its earliest days.

But the truth is different.

In the beginning, the club, founded in 1900, was considered the least successful little son of Munich, and even the regional championships of the then southern German league were beyond his reach.

Bayern's rise to greatness is recorded in the name of Kurt Landauer, the forgotten Jewish president.

"Kurt Landauer's story is a tragic and heroic one at the same time," says Patrick Store, founder of the Kurt Landauer Foundation, which works to commemorate him.

"He lost almost his entire family in the Holocaust, and himself miraculously survived, maintaining a burning love for the club and the city with which he linked his fate. In many ways he was the man who invented Bayern, and the president who led its transformation into a professional club despite many difficulties and opponents."

Thanks to four terms at the helm of Bayern, Kurt Landauer remains to this day the president with the longest tenure at the club.

But its influence and contribution are far stronger than the dry numbers.

It is no coincidence that under his leadership the team reached its first achievements: the regional league championship of southern Germany in 1926 and the German championship in 1932. His affair with Bayern Landauer began as a teenager.

At the age of 17 he started playing for the team, but his playing career ended quickly when he was forced to leave Munich to start an internship at a bank in Lausanne.

In 1913 he was elected president of Bayern for the first time, but this tenure was short-lived.

The First World War, which broke out the following year, interrupted all football activity on the old continent, as well as the normal course of life of Landauer, who was drafted into the army and fought for his country in the "Great War" trenches.

His second term at the helm of Bayern began in 1919, and was the most significant of them all.

He turned out to be an excellent club manager and a bold and successful reformer - on and off the field.

Landauer understood best of all that football is changing, and that amateurism, in both management and acting, will pass from the world.

He decided to devote the limited resources of the team to the development of the staff, and especially to the cultivation of young players.

In the same year he appointed the English coach William Townley, who adapted to the club offensive and fast play, which was based on long control of the ball and was called the "Scottish style".

This line continued when, in 1921, Yugoslav coach Dori Kirchner arrived, adding to the team a dimension of the "Danube style", the main one being technical ability.

At the same time, the energetic president also renewed off the field, and as early as 1920 Bayern boasted a number of members of the largest club in the city.

According to Store, Landauer was very ingrained in Munich and Bavaria and sought to strengthen the spirit of the club and the sense of togetherness.

A good example of this was the 25th anniversary celebrations of the club, which he initiated in 1925.

He wanted to bring all the club members together for a huge social event in the terms of Munich of those days, because he realized that football is much more than a ball game.

Prisoner No. 20009 

Landauer and Bayern's path up German football was interrupted precisely after the great success, the first championship led by Jewish coach Richard Cohen.

The final game against Eintracht Frankfurt, another team that had many Jews among its leaders, was held in Nuremberg and ended in a 0: 2 victory.

A few months later Hitler and his men came to power and disliked Bayern.

In their eyes, Landauer's club was perceived as a "Jewish club" (although only about 10 percent of its members were Jews) and the idea of ​​professional football as a whole was a "Jewish business."

Almost immediately Landauer was forced to resign, and in one of the first waves of purge of the public space from the Jews was left without work. 

The really bad one was not long in coming.

The next day, "Kristallnacht," Landauer was arrested along with thousands of other Jews and sent to the Dachau concentration camp, which was established near his beloved city.

His status no longer mattered, and the president became prisoner number 20009. However, luck lit up his face.

Only 33 days later he was released due to the fact that he fought for Germany in the First World War.

This right would not have saved him from death if he had remained in the Third Reich for some time.

Landauer understood this, and in the spring of 1939 he managed to escape to neutral Switzerland and spent the war years there.

His four brothers and sisters who remained in Germany perished.

Many other Jews who were inextricably linked to German football were also not saved.

For example, Julius Hirsch, a mythological winger and coach of Karlsruhe's youth team, was sent to Auschwitz and murdered there by the same people who had cheered him on in the stadiums about a decade earlier.   

In June 1947 Landauer returned to Munich and was elected president of Bayern for the third time.

It felt at home, as in Switzerland, but the Germany of the first years after 1945 was still a reluctant and alienated place towards the different.

"Landauer believed in cultural fertilization through football, both as a means of improving the team's capabilities and as a social ideal, and such attitudes provoked opposition," Store explains.

"In addition, there was an atmosphere of indifference, concealment and silence in relation to the horrific years of horror that had just ended. In 1947 the magazine 'Kicker', Germany's popular football newspaper, published a large and sympathetic article on Landauer, praising him as president every club dreams of and praising the man. "He returned from exile to his seat at the helm of Bayern. They just 'forgot' to mention why the revered president was forced to go into exile in Switzerland, and what happened during the six years he was absent from Germany."

In the club's presidential election of 1951, Landauer lost and resigned as president, this time definitively, but not separate from the club, and seemed unable to resign.

He continued to contribute to the club with his own money, and in 1955, under the chairmanship of the Bayern Finance Committee, he saved the club from the financial difficulties it encountered.

"That's how you really make an impact"

On December 22, 1961, Landauer passed away, completely forgotten for almost 50 years.

The legendary Karl Heinz Rummenigge, who starred in the Bayern uniform between 1974 and 1984, admitted that during all this time he had not heard Landauer's name even once.

"For a generation of Germans who lived during the Holocaust, and also for younger people, it was convenient to erase the memory of the persecuted Jewish president and whose relatives were murdered by the Nazis," Store claims.

"Not long ago we learned that one of Bayern's executives in the 1960s and 1970s was a man who joined the SS in the late 1930s. People of his kind had many reasons to 'bury' the issue of the Jewish president."           

Who brought Landauer back to the awareness of game fans and the general public?

"The historian Dietrich Schulze-Marmeling published Bayern's full history book in 2003, mentioning Landauer, and then a short article about him in one of the popular newspapers, Di Zeit. Still, the crucial part of the president's real return to general awareness belongs to fans. The first symbolic step in this process was when a group of Bayern fans printed a T-shirt with his features on it, from where it went on to fans' publications, and a huge display of 'Schickeria', Bayern's ultras, whose members spread all over the south stand of the home stadium Banner Oversized with a drawing of his figure.

"Since 2006, the fans have initiated a football competition in his name, which over the years has become a multi-participant event. It is also important to mention the Maccabi Munich football team, which embarked on a journey from the very beginning and named its training ground after Landauer and the two bodies "Never again," which fights anti-Semitism and racism in German football, and the memorial center in the Dachau concentration camp. "

How do the officials at the club relate to the matter?

"I grew up as a Bayern fan, and my perspective is a fan's perspective. In the '90s and early twentieth century the football fans of most teams in Germany were quite a negative force. Many of Bayern's ardent fans were anti-Semitic and xenophobic. Antisemitism. Raising Landauer's memory and strengthening his character signaled that such behavior was inappropriate for Bayern. His life story, and publicity, helped raise awareness of the injustices and tragedies of the Nazi era and the dangers of similar political forces today.

"There is no doubt that commercialization has changed many of the life orders of football clubs, eliminated the social life of the club that Landauer dreamed of, and highlighted only a history that could be sold. Nevertheless, the club did not stay aside. In 2013 Landauer was named honorary president of Bayern Munich, "Adopted the anti-Semitism definition of the International Holocaust Remembrance Task Force (IHRA). Bayern fans will surely be happy if the club decides to visit Israel, visit Yad Vashem and also play against an Israeli team in Landauer's memory."

Was the initiative to establish the Kurt Landauer Foundation to commemorate him also for the club's leaders?

"No. The foundation was founded by the team's fans in late 2017, when the Ultras won a € 10,000 grant from the German Football Association. They realized that there was no point in spending such a sum on something one-off, and that it would be better to set up a framework to instill memory culture in all of us. Money for the erection of a monument to Landauer in Bayern's training ground This is the most famous address in German football, but few know that it was Landauer who obtained this ground for the team from the US occupation forces after World War II, because he was the only one who could negotiate without arousing suspicion of A Nazi past. " 

Is there no fear that formal commemoration will make Landauer a distant symbol and overshadow his suffering as a person?

"We try to learn and get to know others Kurt Adam. His nephew, Uri Siegel (fought in the Jewish Brigade and in Israel's War of Independence), served until his recent death as the honorary president of the foundation, and helped greatly. Uri attended the historic 1932 championship game! We took on the task of instilling in German society the culture of remembrance, which will commemorate the perished Jews, as individuals and as members of the Jewish people as a whole. In Germany there are many theoretical discussions of anti-Semitism. Symbolic - that's how you reach the general public and awareness, and that's how you really make an impact. "

Source: israelhayom

All sports articles on 2021-04-08

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