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Match of Death

A Football Match to Die for and History

Match of Death

An image from Russia's new Movie called "the Death Match"

For both internal and external reasons Russian patriotism is now high currency and Putin’s administration, fully cloaked in it, wishes it to stay high. Reminiscent of any of Hollywood’s rash of patriotic movies of the 40s and 50s, the Kremlin-subsidized movie “The Death Match” recounts the story of the football match between Russians (Soviets) and the German Nazi team in the Ukraine under Nazi occupation.

The Russian team had been told by the Nazis to throw the game (“Lose or die”) but they refused, emboldened by the strong leadership of their heroic goalkeeper and captain of the team:

But they’ll kill us,” warns a teammate.

That’s a minus, but we’ll get over it,” quips the captain of the team.

They won and were then sent to a concentration camp where most of them were shot. There are objections to the movie but not from the Russians. The Ukrainians dislike the way they are depicted as Nazi helpers.

Others claim the footballers were not deported and killed as punishment for their defiant victory but for other, unspecified, reasons. ‘History or part legend’ is not a question to be settled by a movie but the movie serves to bring history up for discussion.

History is not a dogma but rather a retelling of the past in a constant process of revision, rarely as radically as a palimpsest thoroughly razed of its previous writing to make room for a new story, but rather edited to accommodate new findings and the changing perceptions and self-perceptions of the historians.

Freely discussing history is always a plus, and they’ll “get over it.”

11 Responses to A Football Match to Die for and History

  1. Jonathon Blakeley May 6, 2012 at 11:52 pm #

    Historical Truth is not a static thing or an absolute, but is subject to constant change and evolution.

    Everyone thought Newton was right then came Einstein. Everyone thought Einstein was right then came Bohr.

  2. searching May 7, 2012 at 12:45 am #

    “The Ukrainians dislike the way they are depicted as Nazi helpers.”
    Ukrainians WERE a major Nazi helpers.
    It is a historical fact, whether they like to admit it or not.
    People, unfortunately, have a very selective memory. Especially, if the deeds done by them were wrong. Than all of a sudden, boom, they suffer from a collective amnesia.
    That’s why we never learn from the History, we are jut doomed to repeat it, over and over.
    I guess every genaration has to make its own mistakes that will be judged by generations that follow it. And that generation will also make its mistakes. Neverending carousel of life and history. Unfortuntely now , we have the might to destroy not only some nations ,or some parts of land, but the whole planet.

  3. pgg804 May 7, 2012 at 12:51 pm #

    They were “NAZI” helpers for understandable reasons. Millions of them were murdered thru deliberate starvation. Latvians, Estonians and Lithuanians also joined the German armed forces and they were murdered and deported to Siberia after the war.

    Its Sixty five years after the war ended and the atrocities the victors perpetrated and the shenanigans they perpetrated to start the war are still covered up. They have to be because the truth has been revealed and it shows the victorious allies have lied about everything regarding the war and they have as much blood on their hands as the NAZIS. In fact, every year that passes shows the Germans have a lot less blood on their hands than the liars have led the world to believe.

    That is why the historian David Irving’s book “Hitler’s War” had to be removed from West Point’s library (the USA’s military academy for officers) when it was made a part of the curriculum. It revealed what duplicitous liars the victors were and still are.

  4. pgg804 May 7, 2012 at 1:04 pm #

    Russian and Soviet soldiers were mistreated by Germans (and German soldiers were mistreated by the Soviets and their western allies), but I doubt it had anything to do with a football game. If the Russians beat the Germans in a football game during WW II, I think that would make it their only football victory over Germany. I’ve never heard of another one.

    While the Soviets had great Olympic teams including fantastic gymnasts and hockey teams, they have never won the World Cup or even come close. Germany has won the world cup three times and have been in the final six times.

    • Ariadna Theokopoulos May 7, 2012 at 1:14 pm #

      All the more euphoria for the Russian movie goers to see themselves as besting a German team…

  5. pgg804 May 7, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

    The great football nation America made a movie like this about twenty years ago. The movie starred the famous WW II freedom fighter Sylvester Stallone and the football star Pele.

    That was America’s only football victory over Germany.

    At least if they had chosen baseball or basketball the movie would have been more realistic.

    • Ariadna Theokopoulos May 7, 2012 at 1:17 pm #

      Different styles…
      A Russian movie in which their football team beats a German one is wishful thinking, one in which an American team beats a German one is absurd humor.

      • pgg804 May 7, 2012 at 1:23 pm #

        You made me laugh.

        • Ariadna Theokopoulos May 7, 2012 at 8:24 pm #

          You started it with the Sylvester Stallone movie…

  6. pgg804 May 8, 2012 at 5:15 am #

    “Escape to Victory” – 1981.