AZ series: The Miracle and the Wound of Bern

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The DFB-Elf has been able to triumph four times so far at a World Cup in the end. In a new series, AZ reporter Florian Kinast takes a look at these unforgettable moments. At the start: the World Cup in 1954.

On Sunday, the time has come, then there will be a winter football World Cup in the desert state of Qatar for the first time in history. Time for a look back at the glory of the German World Cup with the four world titles so far.

AZ reporter Florian Kinast, who has just published the book “The Kings of the world – the history of the World Football Championships from 1930 to today”, takes on these historical moments in the new AZ series. Here is the first part: the miracle of Bern in 1954.

The next day, when Chancellor Adenauer and Federal President Heuss had sent their congratulatory telegrams to Spiez in time, the world Champions started their triumphal journey towards their homeland in a special train of the Deutsche Bundesbahn, which was provided at short notice and painted with the inscription Football World Champion 1954.

Abertausende Menschen bejubeln die WM-Helden an den Bahnsteigen zwischen Bern und München.Abertausende Menschen bejubeln die WM-Helden an den Bahnsteigen zwischen Bern und München.

While still in Switzerland, cheering people waved to them along the entire route, after a night at the Hotel Bayerischer Hof in Lindau and a Weißwurst breakfast at the local casino, the journey continued towards Munich with a few stops, for example in Kaufering and Buchloe.

Everywhere the platforms were hopelessly crowded. A reception committee of several thousand times represented the millions in the country who had fallen into a boundless frenzy of jubilation. How overwhelmed the players were, who never expected such enthusiasm, was expressed in the phrase of Jupp Posipal, who said that they had “tears in their eyes”. And: “No one could stand that.”

Fritz Walter presented the World Cup at Munich Central Station

At 16.04 the train arrived, on track 11 of the Munich Central Station. From the open windows, the world champions looked out, they wore green suits, waved to the people on the platform. Fritz Walter waved the World Cup trophy, which he had accepted 45 hours earlier at the Wankdorf stadium and which, it seemed, he never wanted to let go.

Fritz Walter beim Empfang imLöwenbräukeller.Fritz Walter beim Empfang imLöwenbräukeller.

When the players left, Thomas Wimmer had put himself in position. Actually, the Mayor of Munich wanted to greet each and every one of the winning team by handshake. But it did not happen, in full ecstasy the masses broke through the barriers and washed Wimmer away.

World Championship title 1954: 300,000 people receive their world champions

Wimmer was the father of Rama dama in Munich after the war, when he called on the city’s population to jointly remove the war debris. Now he himself has been cleared away. Sepp Herberger and his men painstakingly made their way through the surging madness to the twelve Mercedes convertibles, with which they then drove in the corso led by the police parade horse Prinzess over the Stachus towards Marienplatz – in the middle of a sea of cheers from more than 300,000 completely enthusiastic people.

Weltmeistermacher: Bundestrainer Sepp Herberger.Weltmeistermacher: Bundestrainer Sepp Herberger.

Fritz Walter later wrote about the triumphant reception in Munich in his memoirs: “So much love, so much enthusiasm. We didn’t expect that.”

No one expected anything from this German team, in their first World Cup participation after the war. I was glad to finally be able to play again. And then suddenly they won the title, in the final against the Hungarians, who were considered unbeatable, on July 4, 1954, on a day that many later called the actual founding hour of the Federal Republic. A day that, because of its significance in the series of epochal events of the 20th century, is often mentioned in the same breath as the Kennedy assassination, the Moon landing, the fall of the Wall.

At the title celebration in the Löwenbräukeller, the DFB President caused a scandal

In Neuhauser and Kaufingerstraße, the shops pulled up banners: Long live our victorious eleven. From the scaffolding of the shell, into which the fashion house Hettlage was later to move, a carpenter intoned the triumphal march from the Aida on a trumpet, and the banner “Welcome” was hoisted at the headquarters of the Munich funeral Association.

Arrived at the town hall on the second attempt, the congratulations from OB Wimmer finally worked out. Each player received the silver sports Badge and a commemorative book of the city of Munich, and as the Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote, also strawberry cake, Prinzregententorte, coffee and cognac.

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Later, there was another porcelain lion from Bavaria’s Prime Minister Hans Ehard, and in the evening there was another memorable celebration in the Löwenbräukeller – when DFB President Peco Bauwens gave his notorious, controversial speech, which has been discussed to this day, when he described the heroes of Bern as a “representation of the best of Germanness” in pathetic gibberish and paid homage to the “Führerprinzip in the good sense of the word”. The BR editor in charge at the time explained that he had been reminded with horror of the tone of the millennial Reich. And that’s why Bayerischer Rundfunk cut itself off from the live broadcast without further ado.

After the final defeat, the frustration in Hungary discharges

For the people of Hungary, on the other hand, the final defeat became a national tragedy. After the final whistle, grief, anger and anger were discharged on the streets of Budapest. Destroyed shop windows, an overturned tram, when coach Gusztav Sébes came home from Switzerland, his apartment was devastated by the mob.

The riots of the masses, also enraged by the political circumstances of the Communist Party dictatorship, were an outlet for the pent-up discontent in the country and formed the beginning of an uneasy period, which resulted in the popular uprising two years later. Goalkeeper Grosiçs once said: “Without the defeat of ’54, there would not have been 1956.”

Many of the Hungarian heroes followed the World Cup disgrace to the last

The uprising also ended the era of the Golden Eleven, which remained unbeaten for another 18 times in a row after the final match of Bern. Ferenc Puskás, who was on a tour of Spain with Honved Budapest during the revolution, like many other players, settled abroad, later he became a celebrated star at Real Madrid. The disgrace of 1954 haunted him to the last, as did all the rest of his teammates.

Defender Jenö Buzánszky later said that he cried for the last time in his life on July 4, 1954. After that, never again, not even at the funerals of his mother and father. Coach Sébes died in 1986. There is a story that in recent months he could no longer speak, but shortly before his death, he whispered one last sentence in the ear of his friend György Szepesi on his deathbed: “We lost.”

She could never heal. The wound of Bern.

“Kings of the World” by AZ reporter Florian Kinast has been published by dtv-Verlag, 489 pages, 16 Euro

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