Dynamo versus Germany: Soccer Match of Death
Monument in front of Dynamo Stadium in Kiev to Ukrainian soccer players executed by the Germans in Babyn Yar; Ivan Kuzmenko, Mykola Trusevich, Olexiy Klimenko and Mykola Korotkikh. Makar Honcharenko was a survivor. There are different versions of the Death Match, we followed Kuznetsov's version in Babi Yar. The incredible story of the Dynamo soccer club of Kiev, one of Europe's finest, is one of the legendary events of WW II. After Kiev was occupied members of the Dynamo team found work in Kiev Bakery No. 1 and started to play soccer in an empty lot. The Germans offered them the opportunity to train in the Zenith Stadium and then suggested a "friendly" game with a team picked from the German army.
The Ukrainians accepted the offer, named their team Start and posters on June 12, 1942 announced: "Football [Soccer]. Armed Forces of Germany versus Kiev city Start." The Germans, in good physical shape, scored the first goal. Then Dynamo gained its strength and scored a goal. The old talent of Dynamo started to grow and they scored a second goal to the enthusiastic cheers of the Ukrainian spectators. The Germans were furious.
At half time a German officer came from the Commandant's box to the Dynamo dressing room and ordered them "not to play so keenly" and threatened that they would be shot if they do not obey. The fans, completely unaware that the lives of Dynamo were threatened, cheered them on to a score of 4-1 when suddenly the German Commandant of Kiev, Major-General Eberhardt, and his staff left. The referee's whistle ended the game before it was finished.
The Germans then fielded a stronger team on July 17 but it lost 6-0. Two days later Dynamo had a match with the Hungarian team MSG Wal and Dynamo defeated them 5-1 and a rematch on the 26th ended with a score 3-2 for Dynamo. The German administration was outraged and decided that they had to teach the Dynamo Untermensch a lesson. The powerful and "ever victorious" German Flakelf team was invited. But this German team also lost to Dynamo and not a word about it appeared in the newspapers.
The Ukrainian team was given three days to think about their position and on August 9th there was a "friendly" rematch. In spite of the pressure Dynamo again in its fifth game defeated the German team -- for the last time. Most of the Ukrainian team members were arrested and executed in Babyn Yar, but they are not forgotten. There is a monument to them in Kiev and their heroism inspired the film Victory starring Sylvester Stallone and Pele.
Monument in front of Dynamo Stadium in Kiev to Ukrainian soccer players executed by the Germans in Babyn Yar; Ivan Kuzmenko, Mykola Trusevich, Olexiy Klimenko and Mykola Korotkikh. Makar Honcharenko was a survivor. There are different versions of the Death Match, we followed Kuznetsov's version in Babi Yar.
Babij Jar Sonderkommando Zakhar Trubakov also describes the "death match", albeit quite differently, in his memoir "The Secret of Babij Jar". There's a whole chapter called "The Truth about the Death Match". According to him, the soccer players were not executed in Babij Jar, it's a legend.
According to Trubakov, Nikolaj Trusevich worked at the bakery no. 1, and played soccer in the evenings with his friends. Germans learned about it and offered him to gather a team to take part in the opening of the stadium at Bolhaja Vasil'kovskaja st. 51 (now - "Tsentral'nyj" stadium).
On July 12, 1942 there was the first match. The team consisting of the members of the different clubs (Dynamo, TsDKA, etc.; it wasn't just Dynamo) easily won. Germans didn't make fuss, just set a stronger team against them on July 17. And lost again. Then there were two matches with Hungarians, they lost both times.
Then there was a match on August 6, 1942. "Dynamo", as the team was called in the Nazi newspapers, played against the German Luftwaffe team. That happened on a small stadium in the center of the city (now it's called "Start").
Nikolaj Trusevich, with whom Trubakov talked in the Syretskij camp, told him the story in detail. The first goal was scored by the Germans. The judge was on the side of Germans and tried to make obstacles to the Ukrainian team. Nevertheless, near the end of the first time the score was 2:1 for the Ukranians. By that time fans were brave enough to shout "Germans are being beaten!". Some Germans on the tribunes began to shoot in the air.
During the break some officer came into the Ukrainians' room and commended them on their game, but warned that they should lose the next match if they wish to live. After the officer left, the majority of the team players agreed that they should play fairly.
They scored the first goal in the second time, then Luftwaffe team scored two goals. But in the end the Ukrainian team won 5:3.
Three days later there was another game at "Zenit" stadium. Ukrainians won again, 3:0. On August 16 they played against the team of Ukrainian nationalists "Rukh" and won 8:0. All in all they won 7 matches. Only after that the Germans decided that enough is enough, and sent the 4 (only 4!) players to the Syretskij camp (Klimenko, Trusevich, Kuz'menko and Korotkih).
There Trubakov met them. They were assigned to building the garage for Gestapo at Korolenko st. 33 among the 120 others ("the hundred"). Once "the hundred" did not return in time. They returned after less than an hour. Sturmbannfuehrer Radomsky ordered Polizeis to let them in. They were standing before the line of the Syretskij camp prisoners while the translator was telling that they were plotting against gestapo but were caught. Because of that every third person in a "hundred" was to be shot.
Soccer players were put into the line in such a way that they were among those to be shot. Then there was an order: "Every third person - step forward!". All in all 40 people had to step forward. They were ordered to lie down in rows. At that time Trusevich turned to the prisoners and shouted: "Hail the Soviet sports!".
Von Radomsky shot him immediately, emptying his gun of bullets. Polizeis then shot the rest.
According to those of the workers who were left alive, the prisoners were executed because after the work was finished and the prisoners were leaving the yard, the Gestapo chief arrived in his car and Immediately his dog attacked the prisoners. In the ensuing chaos somebody accidentally pushed the Gestapo chief and he tore his overcoat. That's why 40 innocents were shot. And von Radomsky made sure that the "rebellious" soccer players were among the executed.