In each installment of our regular Cold War Classic guest slot over on MuseumOfJerseys.com, we breakdown different international fixtures that (usually) saw eastern Europe take on western Europe during the Iron Curtain era, specifically relating to the fascinating kits involved, as well as some politics and any relevant background information. But of course these weren’t the only instances of cross-ideological competition, as continental tournaments at club level could also throw up some politically spicy match-ups – inevitably including ties between representatives of THE two Cold War states: East Germany and West Germany.
After the Soviet Union replaced the Russian Empire in 1922 to become Europe’s first communist superpower, a specific new era in football also began. Totalitarian control of society (which wasn’t new of course) included control over sport, with the organisation of nationwide umbrella societies divided into official clubs for the main industries and arms of the state. One of the most prominent sports clubs (with the football branch the earliest formed team in Russia) was CSKA (Central Sport Club of the Army) Moscow, which had been originally founded as OLLS (Amateur Society of Skiing Sports) in 1911, but later repurposed by the new regime for their military.
Similarly in Moscow, Lokomotiv was the appropriately named team of the rail-workers; Torpedo for an automotive plant; and the “team of the people” Spartak (as in Spartacus) backed by the All-Union Leninist Young Communist League, or Komsomol. Outside of the capital, Shaktar – meaning coal-miner – was the name given to the to the team from the mining city of Donetsk in Ukraine, and FC Krylia Sovetov from Samara, literally translating to FC Wings of the Soviets, was created for a factory that produced aircraft.
After World War 2 and the fall of the rest of Eastern Europe to communism, the state sports club system spread to other countries, along with their names. Soon the region was populated in the football world by the likes of CSKA Sofia, Lokomotiv Plovdiv, Locomotive Tbilisi, and Torpedo Kutaisi (Georgia), while team names like Red Star Belgrade and Steaua (Star) Bucharest also indicated military links. But perhaps the most common was Dinamo/Dynamo – originally intended as a society for electricians in Moscow, but swiftly taken over by the secret police.
Given the necessity for a police force in every town, it’s no surprise that clubs using the name sprung up across eastern Europe more then any other. To name a few, cities such as Tirana, Baku, Bucharest, Sofia, Kiev, Moscow, Tiblisi, Minsk, Brest, Tallinn, and Zagreb were represented by teams with the association (Wisła Kraków in Poland were also aligned with the police during communist years, but their referred to the Wisła/Vistula River and predated the era). While it wasn’t uncommon for local constabularies to field amateur sides in the likes of the English lower leagues, they had never been instruments of the state.
The local supporter populations were naturally often agitated by the dismantling of the old pre-communist clubs that had once existed in their areas, only to see them replaced by structures controlled by privileged individuals and representing sinister state apparatuses. But over time, as often happens in football, the origins of the clubs were overlooked and forgotten as they became tied to civic pride and attitude rather than historical industrial affiliation, with success on the field often being the most crucial thing in helping a team shed it’s deep-state image.
In 1949, another result of World War 2 was the creation of the German Democratic Republic, commonly known as communist East Germany. The new state was in the unique position of containing a “western/central-European population” while located on the eastern side of the Iron Curtain. But like their mostly Slavic neighboring allies, the East Germans created their own social sports societies, with the main employers being separated into branches known as Sportvereinigung (“sports association”).
Some clubs born of this system were Chemie Halle and Chemie Leipzig, attached to the chemical industry; Energie Cottbus representing it’s local coal mine; Lokomotiv Leipzig for rail; Motor Jena (later FC Carl Zeiss) for their automotive industries; metallurgy through the likes of FC Stahl (steel) Brandenburg backed by the local steel company; Turbine Erfurt and Turbine Halle representing the towns’ electricity stations; and Vorwärts (Forwards) Dessau and Leipzig, who’s name signified the army. Again, the police were also involved with the future main powerhouses of Dynamo Dresden and Berliner FC Dynamo, both associated with East Germany’s notorious Stasi state security agency.
While aligned to the same body, and with some Dresden players originally sent to help set up the Berlin side, bitterness and rivalry was still bound to occur between the two cities’ teams. Since the formation of the East German Oberliga in 1948, Dresden had been one of the most successful clubs claiming their 6th League title by 1979, compared to their Berliner police equivalent’s zero, to tie the record of Vorwärts Berlin (who, incidentally, had been moved from Leipzig in 1953, then again moved and becoming 1 FC Frankfurt in 1971 to “make room” for Dynamo, as the secret police were more powerful than the army at the time).
The capital-based Stasi officials clearly had enough at this point, as a concerted effort was made to make Berliner FC Dynamo the nation’s top club by coercing referees and arranging favorable transfers of the country’s top players. The result was an astonishing ten league titles in a row, during which time Dresden finished 2nd six times. Rightly frustrated as clearly the “true” best team in the country (in reality their links to the powerful state body no doubt contributed to their own success), questions were also being asked in such footballing cities as Leipzig, as a mockery was made of the league year after year.
As the Nazi empire in the east had fallen to communism control upon the conclusion of World War 2, ideals of capitalist democracies came out victorious in the west. And like the state-backed teams of the socialist states that naturally followed the new regimes, western capitalist ethos likewise extended it’s way into sport as huge profit-making companies had a history of setting up clubs of their own.
Throughout the century, teams established in this way included Bayer 04 Leverkusen of the Bayer pharmaceutical company, formed back in the German Empire days; PSV Eindhovan of Philips in the Netherlands in 1913; France’s FC Sochaux of Peugeot in 1928, who’s shirt bore the Peugeot logo as it’s crest for many years; and, on a slightly smaller scale, Vauxual Motors FC of England in 1963. But unlike the rather soulless modern corporate business-clubs of today such as the Red Bull franchises, these were originally all set up as factory workers’ teams and were identified-with by their families and friends in the surrounding area, with the company in question being in large part to thank for the local economy’s survival.
Of course not every team in Germany was attached to a company, industry or governmental wing, despite some of the names suggesting otherwise. The “Eintracht” for example in Eintracht Frankfurt, Braunschweig and others, is the German equivalent to United (translating to harmony in English – “one track”), while the “hansa” (translating to “guild”) in East Germany’s Hansa Rostock refers not to a modern business, but hearkens to the 13th-17th century Hanseatic League commercial confederation of northern Europe. And of course Bayern has nothing to do with Bayer, rather the native word for Bavaria, with Borussia similarly meaning Prussia in Latin.
Speaking of Bayer, following the workers’ request to set up a football team in their plant at Leverkusen in 1904, the idea had spread to other branches. In 1953, one of these – Werkssportgruppen Bayer AG Uerdingen – was merged with a local side founded the year after the original Bayer team: FC Uerdingen 05. This gave birth FC Bayer 05 Uerdingen, who would go on to rival Leverkusan as the top company side.
After both teams had made it to the Bundesliga for the first time in the late 70s, Uerdingen officially surpassed Leverkusan in 1985 with a DFB-Pokal (German Cup) win – the first major silverware won by either club. Meanwhile in the east, Dynamo Dresden were denied by Berlin again in the league but had at least won the East German cup and like Uerdingen entered the following season’s Cup Winners Cup, displaying that competition’s importance at the time as UEFA Cup places were passed down to 3rd (Lokomotive Leipzig) and 4th (BSG Wismut Aue, a team originally set up for the local tool factory workers).
Before East Germany had met their hosts in the 1974 World Cup on West German soil, the divided country had first clashed on the football pitch at club level when Dresden took on Bayern Munich in the 73/74 European Cup. There had been several more of these encounters across the European and UEFA Cups since then – including games against Hamburger SV and Vfb Stuttgart for Dresden – but not yet in the Cup Winners Cup.
This would change in the 85/86 edition when the quarter finals delivered the pairing of none other than Dynamo Dresden and Bayer Uerdingen, with the former having already defeated Cercle Brugge and HJK Helsinki, and the latter eliminating Żurrieq F.C. of Malta and Galatasary in the first two rounds. Although not the first east vs west episode, it was the most advanced phase in a competition to date in which such an fixture had arisen, and an East German secret police team taking on a West Germany company side fit the quintessential cold war narrative perfectly.
European Cup Winner’s Cup quarterfinal-1st Leg
Dynamo Dresden vs Bayer Uerdingen, Dynamo-Stadion, Dreseden, 05/03/1986:
“Wir gehen jetzt live ins…”
The Dynamo Stadium (one of many names for the ground throughout the years) is a haunting set for the 1st leg as the sun sets ahead of the teams’ arrivals, with the skyline of DDR (Deutsche Demokratische Republik) Dresden visible in the hazy background:
While no away fans are present for obvious reasons (at least none that we can see), the incredible multitudes of amber and black home banners hung all around the stadium – which we have expertly pieced together here – displays one thing clearly: no matter what the club’s background, this is now a team of the people:
The two captains shake hands in a heartwarming East meets West moment:
Noticeable is the fact that both are dressed in spiffing Adidas kits, with the West German company’s presence, not just in Dresden but club and national teams all over Communist Europe, always seeming to slightly betray their countries’ ideals:
It’s a beautifully mucky, muddy pitch, with the ice and snows of early March still surrounding, creating our type of scene:
In the second half, the home side score once through Dresden native Frank Lippmann on 51 mins…:
…and then again thanks to Hans-Uwe Pilz eleven minutes later to send their supporters into raptures:
2-0 it finishes putting one Dynamo foot in a European semi-final, which would be the farthest that an East German team had ever progressed in continental competition:
European Cup Winner’s Cup quarterfinal-2nd Leg
Bayer Uerdingen vs Dynamo Dresden, Grotenburg-Stadion, Krefeld, 19/03/1986:
Looking at the smaller Grotenburg Stadium, it is also less densely populated than it’s Dresden counterpart two weeks earlier…:
…but on the other side we can see that one pen is immensely packed:
The Bayer fans’ banners are not quite as numerous as Dynamo’s were at home, but there’s a respectable smattering of them behind one of the goals where the hardcore are located:
One flag from a distance looks suspiciously right-wing…:
…and is later confirmed to be a modified German Empire flag, with Uerdingen’s blue inserted behind the Nordic cross:
Dresden’s own fans will go on to gain a reputation as one of future-unified Germany’s most right-wing support bases, but at this time the club is still associated with the communist state.
Speaking of which, unlike at the 1st leg away fans are actually present now with the East German authorities clearly allowing a select few trustworthy/connected citizens to make the trip, as evident by their banners at the other end interestingly positioned in the midst of some more Uerdingen ones:
It’s not only fans that can’t be trusted though, as players too aren’t above suspicion: sub-goalkeeper Uwe Kuhl has been left at home by orders of the Stasi due to supposed links to the West, a fact that would go on to have ramifications in the match. (NOTE: This is reported in the book “The Rough Guide to Cult Football” as happening to Jörg Klimpel , but records show that Klimpel had already left Dresden in 1985 for BSG Fortschritt Bischofswerda, so we’re going with actual squad member Kulh).
But early on all is going to plan for the Easterners, as after only one minute Ralf Minge nods in this cross to make it 0-1 on the night:
Minge is joined on the scoresheet at 13 mins by an even better named player in Wolfgang Funkel, who’s own header finally gets Uerdingen on the board:
From the above Gif some of the Dresden fans can be spotted – conspicuous on the terrace by their lack of celebrating. But on 35 mins, Lippmann does this to have them dancing again:
Around the 40 minute mark, an important development: Funkel collides with Dresden goalkeeper Bernd Jakubowski in mid-air, sending him clattering to the ground hard and in need of treatment:
One of the text banners in the background above also starts with “Ex-Dresden…”, perhaps part of a political message from a defector that we’d like to have known more about.
Jakubowski stays on the pitch for now, watching as his side immediately go up the other end and amazingly score again, thanks to an own goal goal that seems to exemplify this whole experience for Uerdingen. Bayer defender Rudolf Bommer is the unlucky man who the ball bounces off and into the net:
For the remainder of the half, Jakubowski can be seen clutching at his shoulder in obvious pain anytime he needs to exude physical effort, which is necessary several times as long balls are played in (another intriguing “Ex-…” something banner is also behind the goal too):
Relying on his teammates’ defending to prevent any major saves, eventually he needs to pluck a dangerous cross out of the air with both hands. The pain must be excruciating, as it turns out that poor Bernd has been playing for the past few minutes with a fractured shoulder and of course needs to come off at half-time:
But of course Dresden’s usual number 2 between the sticks is back in the East thanks to the authorities, meaning 23 year old Jens Ramme has to come on to make his debut. Still, at 5-1 up on aggregate there is little doubt on either side as to who is coming out on top, with many home supporters leaving the stadium during the break.
Things remain the same until the 58th minute, when a dubious shove in the box…:
…gives Bayer a penalty that kick-starts one of the most amazing 30 minutes in European football. Funkel converts, before Icelandic striker Lárus Guðmundsson is credited with making it 3-3 on the night five minutes later, although we can clearly see that it hits off-two Dynamo players before ending up in the net:
Suddenly a massive momentum shift has taken place – Dresden with their young net-minder are badly rattled, while Uerdingen smell blood. Some away players must have been already convinced that fate is now against them, as after only another 2 minutes Wolfgang Schäfer’s bouncing lob is deemed to have made it over the line:
On 78 minutes, Dietmar Klinger casually passes the ball into the net from outside the box, past a Ramme who must have been wishing for the sweet release of death at this point, incredibly making it all level:
On 81 mins, the seemingly inevitable happens as Funkel slots home another penalty to secure his hat-trick and give Bayer the lead on aggregate, 6-5:
With one of the all-time great footballing nightmares happening to them, especially considering the political weight of the fixture, Dresden try in vein to get one back – from which we can see that all their supporter banners have mysteriously vanished:
But from the counter-attack that follows, the home team put the icing on the cake with Schäfer’s second on 86 mins making it 7-3, or 7-5 overall:
Those who stayed in the ground have clearly been rewarded with a European night they will never forgot, as the clock winds down with the scoring finally complete:
And that’s it, the whistle blows and Uerdingen have done it…:
…not only vanquishing the representitives of the fearsome East, and extracting some revenge for DDR’s World Cup defeat of West Germany in Hamburg in 1974, but doing so in the most unexpected way:
With a Cup Winners’ Cup semi-final now in the bag to boot, pitch invasions and fence climbing follow…:
…and the heroes of the “Miracle of the Grotenburg” are adulated, as the first of many interviews begin:
But the real drama hadn’t even happened yet…
Dynamo captain Hans-Jürgen Dörner and manager Klaus Sammer – father of 19 year Mattias who had also featured in the tie – both lost their jobs at the club following the humiliation, with pressure from the secret police. After the match, however, events would revolve around the man who had kicked-off the scoring back in Dresden – Frank Lippmann.
Under scrutiny himself from the Stasi following a drunk-driving offense, Lippmann spontaneously took an opportunity to flee the team hotel that night through an underground car-park and escape to the freedom of the Federal Republic of Germany. As if it couldn’t get any more dramatic, the gravitas of Lippmann’s defection was doubled, or tripled, due to the fact that he was leaving behind his fiancé and 3 month old daughter in East Berlin. Heavy.
One can only imagine what Frank’s head must have have been like once things really sank in. The joint top-scorer in that season’s Cup Winners’ Cup, Lippmann was handed a one year ban from football for abandoning his team, before signing for 1. FC Nürnberg in 1987.
The authorities tried to convince his betrothed that he had abandoned his family too, shockingly sending would-be lovers her way in an attempt to fully break the pair up (and save East Germany more defections). But she was clearly understanding of Frank’s plight and flight, staying loyal and eventually escaping herself with their daughter to Austria in 1989 where upon the couple were reunited, finally closing-out this chapter of fascinating political-football history.