Football
under the
Nazis

Exhibition
24.5.-31.7.2024
Olympic Park

About this exhibition

Introduction

The history of football is intimately linked to the history of the society in which it was played. What does this history mean for us today? How should we look back on football in Germany? The exhibition “Sports. Crowds. Power. Football under the Nazis” is the result of a collaboration between what matters gGmbH and the Berlin Sports Museum. It explores the meaning of sports during the Nazi era and how the Nazis attempted to use football to underscore their power. It also looks at football matches in concentration camps and commemorates Jewish and non-Jewish athletes who were persecuted by the Nazis. And always it asks the question of how the power of football can bring people together or lead to marginalization—then and now.

Chapter

Sport was important to the Nazis, who believed that organized physical activity would make the population fit and ready for war. The Nazis wanted a new society which they called the ‹Volksgemeinschaft›, the Aryan national community. They would decide who belonged, and who did not. Sport was one way to show who was fit for this community. At sporting events, the Nazis could present their vision. This is what they did at the 1936 Olympic Games.

The eleven football shirts that are part of this exhibition represent clubs that the Nazis banned. Most the originals have been lost to time. After the Nazis came to power, many clubs no longer allowed Jews to belong as members. Those members of these clubs who were part of the new ‹Volksgemeinschaft› helped the Nazis put their ideas into action. In 1938, the Nazi government would go on to ban all Jews from participating in sports. They would proceed to destroy Jewish clubs across occupied Europe—sending millions to their death during the WWII and the Holocaust.

Upon assuming power in 1933, the Nazis began to use concentration camps to imprison those with opposing political views. Later, more camps were built where Jews and Sinti and Roma were sent. Prisoners were met with extremely punishing conditions, but some could still experience the joy of playing football. It helped them to feel human again, and made daily life in the camps more bearable.

Through five short-videos, women from today’s sporting world present the biographies of historical figures: four footballers and one track and field athlete whose lives were forever altered by the Nazis rise to power. Some were murdered, while others’ careers were destroyed. The histories of Lilli Henoch, Heinz Kerz, Béla Guttmann, Eddy Hamel, and Julius Hirsch represent a small fraction of the millions of others who suffered under the Nazis and show that even star athletes were unable to escape persecution.

When the war ended in 1945, so too did the Nazi’s way of life. But racism and antisemitism did not simply disappear from society, or football. During the 1980s and 1990s, these forms of hatred could be found in stadiums across the country. Eventually, fans began to organize and fight. Sadly, discrimination is still a part of daily life both in and outside of stadiums that we must work to confront.  

A news ticker shows harrowing incidents of hate that have occurred across German football. But there are fans and athletes who are fighting for diversity and democracy. Their strength is growing and should serve as motivation to us all. We present eight initiatives and organization that are active in this fight today.

Visit

Opening hours

Daily 10 am – 6 pm*

*Except on match days of the UEFA EURO 2024 in Berlin:

  • 15 June 2024
  • 21 June 2024
  • 25 June 2024
  • 29 June 2024
  • 06 July 2024

 

Admission is free

To plan visits for organized groups and school classes, please request a registration form at ausstellung@whatmatters.de

Barrier-free access is available via elevator.

 

Guided tours

Guided tours help to deepen an exhibition by providing an interactive learning experience. Visitors can actively engage with the topic during a guided tour by receiving answers to their questions and reflecting on the content in discussions with others. This leads to a deeper understanding and more fun while learning.

We offer 1-hour guided tours for free.

Guided tours can be booked at flexible times. Duration is 60 minutes.

Guided tours are offered in

  • German
  • English
  • Spanish
  • French

 

To book a guided tour please email to ausstellung@whatmatters.de.

Finding us

Olympiapark Berlin
Haus des Deutschen Sports
Hanns-Braun Straße
14053 Berlin

Coordinates 52°31’13.6″N 13°14’32.3″E

Directions by S-Bahn lines 3 and 9 to the station “Olympiastadion”

Take the Trakehner Allee exit. Walk past the footpath at the Olympic Plaza/Olympiastadion East Gate. Straight ahead, you’ll find an entrance to the Olympiapark Berlin. You’ll then be on Gutsmuthsweg. At the intersection (Swimming House), turn right towards Adlerplatz. The exhibition is in the House of German Sports there.

Directions by U-Bahn line 2 to the station “Olympia-Stadion”

You arrive at Rositter Platz. Go up the ramp there. Turn right onto Rominter Allee and walk until you reach Hanns-Braun-Straße. Turn left onto Hanns-Braun-Straße. After about 100 meters, you’ll approach Wache Ost. Pass through the barrier and turn right towards Adlerplatz. The exhibition is in the House of German Sports there.

Lenders

Many thanks to

1. FC Magdeburg, Akademie der Künste, Alte Synagoge Essen, Amtsgericht Charlottenburg, Amtsgericht Dortmund, Amtsgericht München, Archiv des Jugendhauses Düsseldorf, Archiv Pamatnik Terezín, Augusto Jone Munjunga, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Bayerischer Rundfunk, Biblioteca National de España, Bundesarchiv Lichterfelde, Christine Garbade, Christof Wolf, Der Kicker, Deutscher Fußball-Bund, Deutsches Historisches Museum Berlin, Dokumentations- und Kulturzentrum Deutscher Sinti und Roma, Eike Stiller, Familie Kubaşık, Familie Specht, FC St. Pauli-Museum, FIFA Archives, First Vienna Football Club, Football Supporters Europe, Fußballmuseum Dortmund, Gedenkstätte und Museum Sachsenhausen, Getty Images, Stadtarchiv Groningen, IMAGO, Institut für Jüdische Zeitgeschichte der ETH Zürich, Israelitisches Familienblatt, Jüdischer Verlag bei Suhrkamp, Jüdisches Museum Dorsten, Jüdisches Museum Wien, Kick It Out, KZ-Gedenkstätte Dachau, KZ-Gedenkstätte Mauthausen, KZ-Gedenkstätte Neuengamme, Landesarchiv Berlin, Leo Baeck Institute, Magischer FC, Makkabi Weltverband in Ramat-Gan, Národní filmový archiv, Narodowe Archiwum Cyfrowe, Nie Wieder!, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Picture Alliance, Prenzlauer Berg Museum Berlin, Privatarchiv Krabbe, Project Roma, Sports Illustrated, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Staatsarchiv Freiburg, Stadt- und Kreisarchiv Paderborn, Stadtarchiv Gunzenhausen, Stadtarchiv Karlsruhe, Stadtarchiv Nieder-Olm, Stefan Schenck, Südwestrundfunnk, The Heartfield Community of Heirs, The National Archives London, Thessaloniki Jewish Museum, Torkel Wächter, Ullsteinbild, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Verein für Geschichte der ArbeiterInnenbewegung, Vereinarchiv Eintracht Frankfurt, Vereinsarchiv Sparta Lichtenberg, Wallleitner- Archiv/Leihgeber, Walter Frentz, Wiener Stadt- und Landesarchiv, World Jewish Congress, Yad Vashem Foto Archives , Yad Vashem Art Museum, Zusammen 1