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In comparison with other occupied countries Danish sport had the most widespread collaboration with the Germans during World War II.
FOOTBALL WITH THE FOE shows that the first years of the German occupation of Denmark became a “golden age” of Danish-German collaborative sports that was far more intense than any period before or since. Banners with the Nazi swastika flew side by side with the Danish flag, while German competitors gave the ‘heil’ salute accompanied by the Nazi Horst Wesselsong.
International matches with the Germans could be a risky business for the young Danish athletes when the British Royal Air Force bombed the German host cities. Resistance to German occupation at the football stadium, however, caused Danish-German sporting relations to shake. At a match against the Viennese team Admira, the Danish supporters poured scorn on the heil gestures of the guests and attacked uniformed German soldiers among the crowd.
The “riot at the stadium” infuriated the German authorities to a degree that they had the Danish Minister of Justice dismissed. After the war, sport was again used for political purposes, now to demonstrate Denmark’s emotional integration in the Allied club, culminating in a sold-out game at Idrætsparken on 10 July 1945 between a professional English and a select Danish team in the presence of the British chief commanding officer in Denmark, General Dewing.
The book is a showcase on sport and politics that demonstrates the politicisation of Danish sport at its peak.
Hans Bonde (b.1958) is a professor, Ph.D. and dr.phil. of sport history. In 2007 the Danish version of his book “Football with the Foe” was awarded as “the Danish history book of the year”.
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