'Exemplary new ground'
Institute of Contemporary History project on FC Bayern club life during the Nazi dictatorship
Since its creation in 2012, the FC Bayern Museum has wanted to offer visitors more than just a place where trophies are displayed and stories of sporting success or defeat are presented.
The museum team has therefore spent the past ten years looking with great passion and care at the people in the club, at historical developments and thus also at club life during the era of National Socialism. The permanent exhibition and also special exhibitions have remembered the biographies of many Jewish club members, victims of the Nazi regime. The focus was and still is on the extensively documented life of former FC Bayern president Kurt Landauer, who survived the Holocaust after going into exile.
First comprehensive history of a German football club during the Nazi dictatorship
In November 2017, FC Bayern awarded an independent research contract to the Munich Institute of Contemporary History. Founded in 1949, the Institute deals with German and European history in the 20th and 21st centuries. This research contract allows FC Bayern to strengthen the museum’s ability to present contemporary history and also the culture of remembrance in German football.
The project “FC Bayern Munich and National Socialism” has now been completed after three and a half years. It means the first comprehensive history of a German football club during the Nazi dictatorship now exists. This doesn’t only include the members of the club who became victims of National Socialism between 1933 and 1945 but also those who were followers or perpetrators of the ideology.
The results of the historical study, which took the form of a doctoral thesis by Gregor Hofmann, can be found on the homepage of the Institute of Contemporary History HERE (in German).
FC Bayern president Herbert Hainer: “FC Bayern commissioned the study from the Institute of Contemporary History in order to have the events of our club during the Nazi era analysed by an independent scientific institute. It’s part of the detailed reappraisal of our club’s history because we also want to live up to our social responsibility with such research projects. We are making a further contribution with this study to the culture of remembrance – and to ensuring that history does not repeat itself. The findings of the project help us to classify what happened in the years between 1933 and 1945 and to draw conclusions from this period. We would like to thank the Institute of Contemporary History for their work.”
A total of about 15,000 file scans, records and notes from almost 60 archives in Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, France, Israel and the USA were analysed. The study shows that between 1933 and 1945 more than half the officials in the FC Bayern club management were also members of the National Socialist German Workers' Party. FC Bayern was no different from other clubs in this respect. On the other hand, FC Bayern held onto its Jewish members for longer – also publicly.
„FC Bayern and the Institute of Contemporary History have broken exemplary new ground with this research project.”
“The story of football clubs during the Nazi era has all too often been presented in simple pairs of opposites,” explains Professor Frank Bajohr, head of this project at the Institute. “Here the Nazis, there the club, here politics, there the supposedly apolitical world of football, here dictatorial coercion by politics, there reactive adaptation by the clubs. The present study breaks with this view. Instead, it treats the officials and players of FC Bayern Munich as independent actors with corresponding room for manoeuvre with which they could accommodate National Socialism, but also resist it.”
The findings of previous research are partly confirmed but also differentiated and revised in many points. “FC Bayern and the Institute of Contemporary History have broken exemplary new ground with this research project,” said Bajohr. Together with the Institute, the FC Bayern Museum will supplement, change and expand its exhibitions on the club’s history accordingly in the coming weeks.
FC Bayern CEO Oliver Kahn: “It’s important to face one’s own history openly and without bias. The basis for this is transparency and the most comprehensive knowledge possible. This study provides new, important insights into the history of FC Bayern. It’s the job of all of us to have an awareness of the mistakes of the past and to strengthen further the sense of responsibility for the future.”
The integration of the Institute of Contemporary History will further raise the profile of FC Bayern’s culture of remembrance and the FC Bayern Museum’s programme. Special exhibitions such as ‘Honoured, Persecuted, Forgotten‘, campaigns on Holocaust Memorial Day, special school class tours or even visits to the concentration camp memorial at Auschwitz have already sent out strong messages. FC Bayern has been using the power of sport for many years to use its history to take a stand against antisemitism, racism, hatred and exclusion.
„I am pleased that FC Bayern so clearly accepts this responsibility and trust that it will represent its values in this knowledge.”
“Social responsibility, especially in Germany, also means knowing one’s own history in detail,” said Charlotte Knobloch, president of the Jewish Community of Munich and Upper Bavaria. “FC Bayern has long proven that it is aware of this obligation. The new study by the Institute of Contemporary History on the club’s history during National Socialism is another step on the way to a comprehensive awareness of its own past, which includes justified pride in a Kurt Landauer as well as knowledge of the misconduct of the years between 1933 and 1945. The club, which was one of many social anchors in the city for Jewish people in Munich before and after the Nazi era, was not without guilt during the dictatorship, from which responsibility arises today. I am pleased that FC Bayern so clearly accepts this responsibility and trust that it will represent its values in this knowledge.”