As Bayern Munich gets ready for their match against Chelsea in the Champions League final this Saturday, the German club known for its high level of play and confidence on the pitch, is embracing its Jewish history, which was shrouded in secrecy following Hitler’s rise to power in 1933.
Before Nazi Germany’s rise, Bayern Munich was led by a Jewish president and coach, while 2 of the 27 signatories of the team’s founding charter in 1900 were Jewish as well.
Kurt Landauer became the team’s president in 1911 and was instrumental in securing their first German championship in 1932, but less than a year later, Landauer was forced to resign from his position as Hitler came to power. He would flee to Switzerland after 33 days at the Dachau concentration camp. Landauer’s role in the team’s success, along with Richard Dombi’s coaching prowess, has not been a widely told anecdote of Bayern Munich’s history until just recently, according to Raphael Honigstein in The Guardian.
Honigstein quotes Dietrich Schulze-Marmeling, author of FC Bayern and Their Jews, as saying: “Club publications simply mentioned that he [Landauer] had to leave Germany ‘on political-racial grounds’. The word ‘Jew’ was assiduously avoided.”
“At the turn of the century, a wave of academic books and newspaper articles renewed interest in the Landauer era but the Bayern leadership were unsure as to how they should react,” Honigstein writes.
Landauer would return to run the team in 1951 but his story was largely forgotten.
“The club’s attitude has changed markedly in recent years, however. The club’s Ultras have celebrated Landauer and Rummenigge [current Bayern Munich chairman] has acknowledged him as ‘the father of the modern FC Bayern’,” Honigstein writes.