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 Olympics 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 it all, the players showed great team spirit. On 22 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.
Heidkamp keeps the group together
More than anyone else, longstanding captain Conny Heidkamp had done his utmost to keep the players together during the blackest days of the war. 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.
German football needed time to recover from the period of desolation and disaster. It took nine years before wild excitement broke out across the country as Germany returned triumphant from Switzerland in 1954. Sepp Herberger coached Germany to World Cup glory for the first time, even though the 3-2 victory against Hungary in the final was a setback for Bayern skipper Jakob Streitle. The fifteen-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 German Cup (DFB Pokal) 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. That success was followed by a barren run: Bayern, under club boss and building contractor Wilhelm Neudecker from 1962, had to deal with the disappointment of not being admitted to the new Bundesliga on its introduction 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 parlous 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 the Bavarian provinces. That policy saw youngsters like Franz Beckenbauer, Sepp Maier and Gerd Müller make the breakthrough.
The uncompromising building contractor Neudecker restructured FCB on a professional basis, employed Robert Schwan as the first full-time general manager in German football and the canny and successful Yugoslavian Tschik Cajkovski as coach. In spite of all the changes the first attempt to reach the top flight was frustrated by Borussia Neunkirchen. In 1964/65 Bayern were the runaway champions of the Regional League South. 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.