Football in the Weimar Republic of the GDR: fearless mama’s sons (

Role model for the GDR youth: Jena national player Lutz Lindemann (r.)

Photo: imago images/Eissner

When my father brought me to the BSG Motor Weimar registered, I was a slender little fellow with jug ears and corrective lenses. Glasses and football didn’t go well together. But because my father knew the surly coach well and called a few gifts his own, he became as mild as a lamb. My teammates eyed me critically and nicknamed me Hosenknopp. They thought I was a mama’s boy because they were the only ones who wore glasses.

At that time, Weimar had a number of football clubs. Motor was number 1. To put it bluntly, I was a moderately talented footballer, didn’t like headers and wasn’t good at juggling. But I was fearless and fast. In order to grow in a hurry, I drank a liter of milk a day and ate every bratwurst I could get my hands on. I bathed every Sunday and in the summer I liked to hang on a pole to dry – also to grow faster. Carpets were otherwise beaten on this pole. I was happy to take on this job, and I also chop wood non-stop. Both seemed suitable to me to steel my body, after all I had to get rid of the damned buttoned pants. On some days I would secretly sneak into the kitchen of my parents’ apartment to train in push-ups and knee bends before the first cock crowed.

I seemed born to be a footballer-actor. When I was fully engaged and in a good mood, it was fabulous to watch me fiddle and move through the air. Secretly, I was a bookworm. My bourgeois grandmother had registered me in the children’s library very early.

Football and glasses, as mentioned, were difficult. Football and books an impossibility. I loved walking in the park with grandma and a book in hand, picking flowers and watching the bees collect honey. Grandmother hated sports and never came to watch me play soccer. She said there was no bliss without books. And she despised football, that disgusting proletarian sport. I, on the other hand, wanted to be like the rednecks: smell of honest sweat and raise my fist to the sky. Where is the ball to putt? Bring on the beer! Girl, give me your kissable lips!

I was a dappled dog, vacillating between Gustave Flaubert and Lutz Lindemann. And at the age of 14, when my body came to life, I noticed what a favorable impression it made in the shadow of a young girl’s blossoms if one put the loveliness of the beloved in the most beautiful words at the right moment. I owed this competitive advantage to literature.

I continued to play football, it was my second love. When I was sorted out at Motor for lack of diligence in training, I found a new home at Empor after two quick hooks. A stroke of luck for a brilliant career with the number 2 in Weimar football. The stranded dancers, the pretty ones, the know-it-alls and the crooks landed at Empor. My hair and that of my teammates were always either too long or too short. We were notorious as the “gay swine” from Weimar City. We were proud to train on slag, while the pimply farmer’s sons only knew grass pitches and got diarrhea at the first body check. We, on the other hand, ate the scabs off our knees for breakfast, staked the peasant troops and plowed up their lawns with our metal cleats. Rest in peace! We promised ourselves the county championship. And they got us.


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