FC Bayern were established as one of the big clubs in Germany. After Simetsreiter, Goldbrunner and Moll had represented the national team at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, the happy world of football ebbed away. The Second World War broke out and that meant the sport went into hibernation, including at Bayern.
Due to the club’s Jewish background, Bayern were discriminated against in a myriad of ways. Club membership, the number of teams and the crowds at games all fell dramatically. Twelve years under the fascist dictatorship saw the club lose its position of prominence, eventually falling to 81st place in the German Reich.
In July 1944 Bayern lost their home when an Allied bombing raid destroyed the club office. Despite all that, the players showed great team spirit. On 23 April 1945, only a few days before the end of the war, they beat 1860 Munich 3-2. According to club records, 56 Bayern members perished on the battlefield, among them Germany internationals Josef Bergmaier and Franz Krumm. Many others were declared missing in action. Seven members were also murdered by the Nazis for racial, political or religious reasons. FCB's Jewish president Kurt Landauer had been interned at the Dachau concentration camp for eight weeks in 1938 before fleeing into exile in Switzerland.
Heidkamp keeps the group together
More than anyone else, longstanding captain Conny Heidkamp had done his utmost to keep the players together during the darkest days of the war. Together with wife Magdalena, he even saved the trophies the club had won from destruction when the air raids on Munich began in summer 1942. Magdalena remembered a farmer in Ascholding near Wolfratshausen where she had spent her holidays as a child. The valuables were packed in boxes and taken there in a wood carburettor and stored in a room next to the stable. Here they were safe - until spring 1945, when the Americans came closer. They had a reputation for being keen on souvenirs such as cups, pennants and badges of honour. For a second time the Heidkamps saved the valuable club trophies and buried the boxes on the Ascholding farm.
Just six weeks after the German capitulation on 8 May 1945, FC Bayern were back playing their first game, losing 4-3 to local rivals FC Wacker. In 1945, Landauer returned from exile and was again voted club president. Reconstruction began, including in football. It took nine years before wild excitement again broke out across the country as Germany returned triumphant from the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland. Sepp Herberger had coached Germany to their first World Cup, even though the 3-2 victory against Hungary in the final was a tough moment for Bayern skipper Jakob Streitle as the 15-time international had to watch from the stands as Fritz Walter & Co secured the world crown.
Germany matches without a Bayern player in the line-up would soon become a rarity. In 1957 the Reds won the DFB Cup for the first time when Jobst scored the only goal of the game to beat Fortuna Düsseldorf in front of a capacity 42,000 crowd at the Augsburg Rosenau Stadium. However, that success was followed by a barren run and huge disappointment as Bayern missed out on being a founding member of the Bundesliga in 1963.
1860 instead of Bayern: A stroke of luck in retrospect
The German FA (DFB) chose local rivals 1860 ahead of FC Bayern to be Munich’s representative in the new league. What club president Wilhelm Neudecker considered to be an outrageous injustice turned out to be a stroke of luck for the club. The precarious state of the finances – financial ruin was narrowly avoided after relegation to the Oberliga – forced the club to dispense with expensive stars and back players from their own youth team, as well as talented footballers from around Bavaria. That policy saw youngsters like Franz Beckenbauer, Sepp Maier and Gerd Müller make their breakthrough.
The uncompromising building contractor Neudecker restructured FCB on a professional basis, employing Robert Schwan as the first full-time general manager in German football and the canny and successful Yugoslavian Zlatko "Cik" Cajkovski as coach. In spite of all the changes the first attempt to reach the top flight in 1963/64 was frustrated by Borussia Neunkirchen. In 1964/65 Bayern were the runaway champions of the Regionalliga Süd. They went on to win the play-off round to finally secure promotion to the Bundesliga. President Neudecker fulfilled a promise to walk round Lake Tegernsee accompanied by 500 fans.