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FC Bayern Munich: Too Jewish for the Nazis
Jalees Rehman
Correspondence to:
Jalees Rehman, M.D.
University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Medicine
Departments of Medicine and Pharmacology
835 South Wolcott Ave, Room E403, Chicago, IL 60612, USA
Email: jalees.rehman[at]gmail[dot]com
Scientific Blog: The Next Regeneration
Personal Blog: Fragments of Truth
Keywords: soccer, national socialism, Nazi Germany, FC Bayern Munich, history
FC Bayern
FC Bayern Munich: Too Jewish for the Nazis
Konrad Heitkamp was taken aback by the extraordinary ordinariness present in the lobby of
the Zurich hotel. In November of 1943, life in Zurich seemed unperturbed by the fact that
the countries surrounding Switzerland were embroiled in one of the most devastating wars in
the history of the world. Heitkamp realized that as the coach of the FC Bayern München
soccer team, he was one of the privileged few who could bask in this oasis of normalcy for a
few days before he would have to head back home to Munich. He surveyed the lobby and
began waving his hand at some of his players standing across the vestibule. Hopefully, the
Gestapo men watching him thought of this as an innocuous gesture, a soccer team coach
acknowledging the arrival of his players and performing a headcount. But he could not bank
on it.
The Gestapo must have known that for the past weeks, Heitkamp and his players were
looking forward to the friendly match against the Swiss national soccer team because it
would give them a chance to finally see their friend Kurt Landauer again. Before the team
embarked on their trip to Zurich, the Gestapo had ordered all Bayern München players to
attend a special “education” session in Gestapo headquarters of Munich. The team was
informed that the Gestapo would accompany the team on their brief trip to Switzerland. The
Gestapo explicitly forbade the team members to have any contact with German emigrants in
FC Bayern
The Nazis were always wary of any potential contact between Germans and German
emigrants who were seen as traitors and collaborators of the Allied forces. But FC Bayern
München was a special thorn in the flesh of the Nazi machinery. Nazis routinely referred to
FC Bayern München as a “Judenclub” (“Jew Club”) because German Jews had held some of
the key leadership positions. The club won its first German national soccer championship in
1932 under the leadership of the Jewish club president Kurt Landauer and the coach Richard
Dombi, an Austrian Jew. Only a few months later in January 1933, Hitler came to power,
and soon all leaders of Jewish origin were forced to give up their leadership positions.
Kurt Landauer was one of the first to resign from the club presidency. He even lost his job
as the manager of a Munich newspapers advertising department and was only able to find
work in a textile shop owned by a Jewish family. In the wake of the anti-Semitic pogroms
the night of the 9th November 1938 (Kristallnacht oder Reichspogromnacht), this shop was
attacked and devastated. Landauer was arrested and sent to the Dachau concentration camp.
After a brief period of internment, he was released, and he used this opportunity to emigrate
to Switzerland and survived the Holocaust. Most of his siblings were less fortunate and were
murdered by the Nazis.
Konrad Heitkamp and his wife Magdalena are about to walk toward their hotel room when a
bellhop appears in front of them and hands Heitkamp a note. It is a message from Kurt
Landauer. Heitkamp tries to suppress his excitement, but it is already too late. Before he can
even read the note, a man taps him on the shoulder and says, Gestapo. Give me the note.
We know who it is from, and we absolutely forbid you to have any contact with that man.
We are watching you!
For the remainder of the trip, the Gestapo closely walls off Heitkamp and his players,
making it impossible for them to have any contact with Landauer. But the players still
manage to embarrass the Nazis and the Gestapo. Immediately after the whistle is blown to
start the game, the FC Bayern München players run up to the area of the soccer field in front
of Kurt Landauer and greet their former president from afar.
The book Der FC Bayern und seine Juden: Aufstieg und Zerschlagung einer liberalen
Fußballkultur (1) (FC Bayern and its Jews: The Rise and Destruction of a Liberal Soccer
Culture) by the German soccer historian Dietrich Schulze-Marmeling describes the
prevalent culture of tolerance at FC Bayern München in the years prior to the Nazi takeover
of Germany. Many members, players, and leaders of the club were Jewish, but the question
of ethnicity or religion was not even a real issue for the club. All that really mattered was
whether or not they were members of the club. Once the Nazis came to power in 1933, they
tried to install their henchmen at leadership positions of all institutions, including sport
clubs. TSV 1860, the other big Munich soccer club, immediately acquiesced to the new Nazi
masters, allowing SA men to take control of the club from 1934 onward. Players and
members of FC Bayern München, on the other hand, staved off Nazi leadership up until
1943. The Nazis were often frustrated by the recalcitrant Judenclub,” which resisted and
delayed the implementation of Nazi ordinances.
FC Bayern
I have been an FC Bayern München fan all my life. My childhood home in Munich was just
a 10-minute walk away from the clubs headquarters at the Säbener Strasse. It is not
difficult to be proud of its achievements. In 2013, the club won every major trophy that it
was eligible for Bundesliga champions, the German soccer federation cup (DFB-Pokal),
the European Champions League, and the 2013 FIFA Club World Cup thus underscoring
its dominance as the worlds best soccer club. But none of these victories made me as proud
of my club as finding out about how it defied anti-Semitism and the Nazis.
Image Credit: The headquarters of FC Bayern München in the Säbener Strasse (photo by J.
An earlier version of this article was first published on May 26, 2014, at
FC Bayern
1. Schulze-Marmeling, D. (2011). Der FC Fayern und seine Juden: Aufstieg und
Zerschlagung einer liberalen Fußballkultur. Werkstatt GmbH.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Der FC Fayern und seine Juden: Aufstieg und Zerschlagung einer liberalen Fußballkultur
  • D Schulze-Marmeling
Schulze-Marmeling, D. (2011). Der FC Fayern und seine Juden: Aufstieg und Zerschlagung einer liberalen Fußballkultur. Werkstatt GmbH.