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FC Bayern Munich: Memories of former President Kurt Landauer


Bayern's successes began 89 years ago with Kurt Landauer. Then the Jewish president fled from the Nazis, leaving behind his great love. A book reveals how he helped the club to gain a liberal image.

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Fan choreography in Munich in 2014

Photo: imago images / Sven Simon

If you want to understand FC Bayern, you have to know Kurt Landauer.

The journalist Dietrich Schulze-Marmeling calls him the “father of modern FC Bayern”. Two years ago, Uli Hoeneß unveiled a Landauer memorial on Säbener Strasse, the headquarters of FC Bayern Munich.

Kurt Landauer was the President of FC Bayern Munich for a total of 19 years.

In 1932 he led the club to the first of 30 German championships to date.

When most of the German football officials still adhered to the amateur idea, Landauer created professional structures in the club, hired English, Hungarian and Austrian coaches and had his club compete against top international teams.

He was President of Bavaria until 1933, and in 1947 he was re-elected as head of the club.

The association uses his biography as evidence of its own traditionally cosmopolitan attitude.

What happened at the club between those years faded behind the great history of the honorary president.

But there are also puzzles about Landauer.

Who was this man on whose life's work the success of the German record champions is based?

An autobiographical book that is now out provides new and amazing clues.

First love, then football

The former president, the son of a Jewish entrepreneur, fled to Switzerland from the Nazis in 1939.

Landauer did not return to Germany, as many Bayern fans would like to hear, in order to be able to lead the football club again.

His great love drew him back to Munich, after the war he wanted to see her again, Maria Baumann, the family's former housekeeper.

Little is known about the private life of Honorary President Landauer and Baumann to this day.

Both married in 1955, Landauer was already 71 years old, Baumann 56. Letters from the two of them and a life report that Landauer wrote in Geneva in 1944 are now appearing, with explanations and supplemented by photographs, among other things from the property of the descendants of the Baumann family.

The documents contain a great love story that survived the horrors of the Nazi era.

But they also shed a new light on the history of FC Bayern Munich.


Title: Kurt Landauer - The President of FC Bayern: Life report and correspondence with Maria Baumann

Publisher: Insel Verlag

Number of pages: 379

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For several years there has been increasing interest in the role that the major German football clubs played in National Socialism.

Some clubs have hired historians to sift through and analyze the sources.

In 2017, FC Bayern engaged the renowned Munich Institute for Contemporary History.

According to the institute, the historian Gregor Hofmann entrusted with the project will deliver results "in summer at the earliest".

The image of FC Bayern during the Nazi era is shaped to this day by the Jewish President Kurt Landauer.

A few years ago its unusual history and enormous importance for the club were rediscovered.

The ARD broadcast a feature film in 2014.

One scene shows Landauer as a spectator in 1943 at a friendly match between FC Bayern and a Swiss team in Zurich, in the middle of the war.

The Bayern players discovered him in the stands, ignored the Gestapo men who had traveled with them and greeted their old president with a clap.

A beautiful story based on the memories of contemporary witnesses.

The Bavarians also followed the National Socialists

Stories like this made it look like FC Bayern was more resistant to the National Socialists than other clubs. The Club Museum also represented it that way, until a file discovery five years ago raised considerable doubts about it. According to the minutes of the club's general meetings, Landauer's successors implemented all of the National Socialists' requirements. One was photographed as a Nazi official in 1938 burning a synagogue.

The new Landauer book reinforces the doubts that the association offered shelter to Jewish members for a long time. These findings are due to the meticulous editing work of the two editors of the book, Jutta Fleckenstein and Rachel Salamander, as well as two employees. Fleckenstein is a historian and deputy director of the Jewish Museum in Munich, Salamander is a literary scholar and founder of a specialist bookshop for literature on Judaism. She is a fan of Bayern and football connoisseur.

The Landauer documents that the authors evaluated only appeared a few years ago.

In 2014, descendants of Maria Baumann contacted the Munich Museum.

They had kept a 77-page account of Landauer's life and many letters that he exchanged with Baumann in a chest of drawers.

"Every curator's dream," says Fleckenstein.

In love across class boundaries

Landauer, born in 1884, grew up in an upper-class Munich family.

The parents belonged to assimilated Judaism, Otto Landauer ran a shop for women's fashion in Kaufingerstrasse, one of the city's most important shopping streets.

The father cheated on the mother, but they still had seven children.

"The scolding in front of us children was unbearable for me," wrote Landauer.

Landauer developed into a loner who was "so to speak afraid" of women.

»Every curator's dream«

Co-editor Fleckenstein

In the spring of 1927 the Landauer family hired a new housekeeper, Maria Baumann from Memmingen, 27 years old.

Landauer, who was 15 years her senior, liked her "cheerful character" and "those lovely blue eyes".

Landauer kept the relationship a secret, it was not befitting.

In the Weimar years he had to cope with a professional decline.

The father had already died in 1913, the sons could not build on his successes.

In 1928 the company for women's fashion was dissolved.

A start-up ended the following year "when I was kicked out of the company". From autumn 1929 Kurt Landauer worked in the advertising department of a newspaper publisher.

Landauer was therefore not very successful professionally.

However, Maria Baumann saw how Landauer succeeded with his football club instead.

The most important title of FC Bayern until then, the 1932 German Championship, only appears marginally in Landauer's life story for Baumann.

"I was so happy that I had someone in you, with whom I could discuss everything, who was not only interested in my things, but what was even more important, so complete understanding."

Many club colleagues were right-wing nationalist at an early age

Landauer knew that at this point the National Socialists were already pushing their way into the club.

His colleague on the board, August Harlacher, joined the NSDAP in July 1930 and told him about it.

Harlacher belonged to the party's "old fighters" category.

Today, FC Bayern in the Weimar years is regarded as an »elitist› student club ‹« in which things were »liberal«, as can be read in the »Historical Lexicon of Bavaria«. In fact, at the end of the 1920s, Wilhelm Buisson, a later resistance fighter, was the "entertainment warden" of Bavaria, organizing trips away and club parties. But among Landauer's companions at FC Bayern, more conservative officials, lawyers, doctors and business people, some of whom had a German national attitude, predominated. People like Hans Tusch from Münchner Rückversicherung, who was once Bavaria's President in 1915. Tusch joined the NSDAP in 1933.

Landauer felt like so many German Jews who, after the Nazis came to power in January 1933, hoped that things would not turn out so bad, after all, he did not practice his faith and had gone to war for Germany.

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Landauer in 1917

Photo: Photo album Maria Baumann, privately owned by the Baumann family

In March 1933, Kurt Landauer resigned as President of FC Bayern.

The "Stuttgart Declaration" followed a few days later.

In it, FC Bayern Munich and 13 other southern German clubs declared their will to exclude Jews from their clubs.

Many of the football clubs then included so-called "Aryan paragraphs" in their statutes in order to officially get rid of Jewish members.

FC Bayern took their time until March 1935, which left long leeway for the assumption that this was where the National Socialists had initially struggled. The work Fleckenstein and Salamander shows, however, that the "Aryan Paragraph" of the Bavarians in 1935 only wrote down what had long been going on. The editors determined that almost half of the 110 Jewish members of FC Bayern had left the club by July 1934. Even with the Stuttgart Declaration "it must have been clear to Jews that one could not be a regular member," says Salamander.

After his resignation as Bayern President, Landauer suffered the increasing humiliation by the National Socialists.

Maria Baumann stood by him even when their relationship was persecuted as "racial disgrace".

"We don't have many examples of such behavior," says Salamander, herself the daughter of Holocaust survivors.

Many "Aryan" partners would have split up in similar situations.

Baumann, who came from the simplest of backgrounds, simply acted humanely.

Lonely years in exile in Switzerland

In November 1938, Landauer was sent to the Dachau concentration camp for a month.

He only hinted at the abuse of the Nazis in his life story.

After returning from Dachau, Maria Baumann took care of his frostbite.

Landauer swore "that they should not take me there or anywhere else alive a second time."

In the spring of 1939 Landauer managed to emigrate to Switzerland, during the years in exile he suffered from loneliness and depression.

"It is now the case with me that I have no other traffic, that I - perhaps more than is good and necessary - stay away from old or even new acquaintances." The cinematic reunion with the Bayern players in Zurich is more likely did not take place as it is shown in the ARD film.

Landauer read the Swiss newspapers, listened to the radio and learned about the gas chambers in which the Germans were killing Jews.

Four of Landauer's siblings were victims of the Holocaust.

Around 12,000 Jews lived in Munich in 1933, and almost all of them fled or were murdered by the National Socialists.

In June 1945 there were 430 people of Jewish origin in the city.

Landauer was one of only 57 emigrants from Munich who returned to their hometown after the war.

Even after the Nazi rule, Landauer had to experience humiliations, for example in his so-called reparation proceedings, in which he was fobbed off "with peanuts," as Salamander says.

He put some of this money straight back into Bayern.

Landauer was a godsend for the club.

The story that FC Bayern suffered under the Nazis and was considered a »Jewish club« was based on him in particular.

The editors did not come across this term in documents from before 1945.

"Landauer was the only Jew on the Bayern board, no one else rose so far in the club," says Salamander.

Landauer forced public forbearance

After the war with FC Bayern, Landauer had a job that made his way back into German society easier.

For the association he was ready to overlook a lot, including the involvement of Bayern members in the Nazi regime.

In July 1948 he traveled to Stuttgart on association matters with Otto Schmitz, a Bayern member since 1912. In 1937, Schmitz was involved in the "Aryanization" of the banking house Gebr. Marx, which belonged to the Jewish Bavarian member Siegfried Salomon Marx.

Landauer must have known about it, Schmitz 'Bank was one of Bavaria's main banks.

FC Bayern later made Schmitz an honorary member.

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Landauer in a holiday home in Grainau

Photo: Photo album Maria Baumann, privately owned by the Baumann family

Landauer apparently tolerated old Nazi supporters in his association. But Landauer condemned his compatriots to Maria Baumann as early as 1944: Anyone who "has been guilty of such cruelty as the Reich through its SS men and Gestapo officials has for ever and forever forfeited the right to stay on anything that was directed against by the enemy it is undertaken «.

A former Bavarian secretary, NSDAP member, offered him a room in Munich in 1947.

It was "so very difficult" to answer "without becoming bitter and offending them," wrote Landauer to Baumann.

Despite all this, he asked the man a few months later to rejoin FC Bayern.

For August Harlacher, the old fighter of the NSDAP and deputy Bayern board member in the master craftsman year 1932, Landauer wrote an affidavit in his denazification procedure to discharge.

Landauer was aware of who he was dealing with, says Rachel Salamander.

He had proceeded strategically and had accepted to be instrumentalized.

»Landauer fulfilled a function for the German public and the club.

FC Bayern must be infinitely grateful to him «.

Source: spiegel

All sports articles on 2021-04-20

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