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European Football During the Second World War

Training and Entertainment, Ideology and Propaganda

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Edited By Markwart Herzog and Fabian Brändle

When German troops marched into Poland on 1 September 1939, this also affected sport – sometimes dramatically. Official propaganda no longer viewed football as a game that was played for fun, but one that could be instrumentalized for political goals and military strategy. Due to the unpredictability of the game, football did not appear to be well suited to such a purpose. However, as the sport was able to create a politically neutral space that offered exciting entertainment and an escapist distraction, it was eminently important for the dictatorship. Soldiers and the civilian population benefited from this, as did the National Socialist regime itself. Football was vital for the war effort and also helped to stablilize the system precisely because it was not a vehicle for political propaganda. In this edited volume, an international team of authors examines the development of football during the Second World War in a dozen European states. The volume concludes with essays on the representation of the topic in the arts and the media.

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