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Comments by YACCS
Friday, June 02, 2006

Why football matters: Germany

The tournament was the first to be broadcast live
on TV in Europe

In the week leading up to June 9th's World Cup start, there will be stories about how soccer matters as a national phenomenon and we'll bring you some of them. Today is Germany and how their 1954 World Cup victory created the modern German state
Legacy of the 'Miracle of Berne'
By Paul Legg
BBC News

Hungarian goal keeper Gyula Grosics tries to stop an attack by West Germany's Schaefer
The tournament was the first to be broadcast live on TV in Europe

For the Germans, knowing the impact of the World Cup goes far beyond football is a lesson they have understood since a rainy day in the Wankdorf Stadium in Berne, Switzerland, in the summer of 1954.

An unheralded West German team, first timers in the tournament, caused the biggest sensation in world sport since World War II by defeating the apparently invincible Hungarians to win the trophy.

The victory led to an unprecedented outpouring of joy, not just in West but in East Germany too, as millions took to the streets to celebrate a "positive" German achievement.

The celebrations were encapsulated in the phrase "Wir Sind Wieder Wer" ("We are somebody again") as they gave enormous psychological impetus to the building of the West German state.


At the start of the tournament, few Germans had TV sets but, by the end, the factories and shops had completely sold out.

At the start of 1954, there were 11,000 television owners in West Germany, but by the end of the year there were 84,000.


The players were showered with extravagant gifts at every stage of their drawn-out homecoming: with the televisions came radios, washing-machines, fridges and sewing-machines (the latter for the loyal spouses who had supported from the Home Front).

Among the players, the most popular gift was a new motorbike.

This was still a time when cars were too expensive for most Germans but the motorbike industry was booming: 60,000 bikes were delivered to German homes between 1951 and 1955.

Some modern day historians call the football triumph a founding event in the birth of the West German state.

However the united German team performs in a few weeks' time and however well the tournament passes off, it will be hard pressed to have a greater impact inside Germany than that had by what became known as "Das Wunder von Bern" ("The Miracle of Berne").

posted by Steve @ 7:27:00 AM

7:27:00 AM

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