Soccer under the Swastika: Defiance and Survival in the Nazi Camps and Ghettos (Paperback)
  • Soccer under the Swastika: Defiance and Survival in the Nazi Camps and Ghettos (Paperback)
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Soccer under the Swastika: Defiance and Survival in the Nazi Camps and Ghettos (Paperback)

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£17.95
Paperback 272 Pages / Published: 08/06/2020
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75 years after the end of the Holocaust, this book commemorates the millions of victims by sharing the stories of wartime soccer players, those prisoners of the Nazi regime who found soccer to be a means of survival and inspiration even when surrounded by profound suffering and death.

The Holocaust was genocide on a scale never seen before. It is the greatest of human tragedies and a defining event in history which continues to challenge and confound human understanding. For many victims ensnared by Nazi Germany, soccer became both a show of resistance and a matter of life and death.

In Soccer under the Swastika: Defiance and Survival in the Nazi Camps and Ghettos, revised edition, Kevin E. Simpson takes the reader on a fascinating journey through this little-known chapter in history, revealing the surprisingly powerful role soccer played during World War II. Relying on a trove of recently-translated testimonies and scores of interviews with survivors and eyewitnesses, Simpson casts a penetrating light on the darkness of the Holocaust by celebrating the courage of those who found the strength to play the beautiful game under horrific circumstances.

With the increasing loss of firsthand memories of these events, Soccer under the Swastika reminds us of the importance in telling these compelling stories. Thoughtfully written and meticulously researched, this revised edition is emboldened by new research, recently translated survivor testimonies, new photos from the era, and a deepened focus on soccer in the Nazi camps and ghettos, providing a more powerful narrative of soccer's ability to provide inspiration and, at times, sustain life.

Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
ISBN: 9781538138694
Number of pages: 272
Dimensions: 229 x 152 mm
Edition: Revised Edition


MEDIA REVIEWS
Most readers probably haven't thought about the role of soccer, or any sport, in WWII. Given the horrors of the Holocaust, how could sports matter? But the game did have a part to play in soccer-mad Europe, as Simpson ably demonstrates, whether as propaganda, distraction, symbolic warfare, or acts of resistance. This thoughtful, carefully documented work offers both big-picture context and individual stories, including those of players on both sides of the Nazi terror and of some whose situations were more complicated. One particularly memorable chapter offers a more nuanced and accurate account of the legendary Match of Death played between a half-starved team of Ukrainians and a hand-picked Nazi team in Kiev. Much of the book focuses on the fact that soccer, almost unbelievably, was indeed played in concentration camps, serving as a means to 'reestablish order and restore some moral authority' to prisoners' profoundly limited choices. Simpson's focus in this book in no way trivializes the horrors of war and genocide; in fact, the humanizing capacity of the beautiful game makes them all the more real.--Booklist
Soccer under the Swastika [is] an engaging account of the sport and its proponents during some of the darkest moments in modern history.... Soccer under the Swastika is at its most illuminating when Simpson elaborates on the role of sport within the camps and ghettos.... [A] rich contribution to both the history of sport and the history of the Holocaust.--Journal of Sport History
[S]cholars of an assortment of fields and disciplines will find Soccer under the Swastika relatable to their own studies. Its overarching and transnational coverage of numerous demographics offers background information to help Europeanists, Latin Americanists, and Americanists learn more about the evolution of soccer and its influence on post-1945 society, culture, and politics in their respective areas. Additionally, professors could use this book as an assigned reading in courses about twentieth century Europe in general, the Holocaust, World War II, and soccer history. The general public would also find it accessible due to Simpson's writing style and the unique perspective of viewing the Holocaust through soccer.--Sport in American History
It's an untold history of the truly unbelievable role football played before and during the Holocaust. A story which encapsulates the Nazi purge of once incredibly Jewish clubs like Bayern Munich....and Dutch powers Ajax. And a love of football which just would not be vanquished, with leagues being organized in ghettos across Europe, including Terezin, the antechamber to Auschwitz. Games that were played even within concentration camps which is absolutely mind-blowing.... The book tells a slew of stories preserving the memory of hundreds of footballers who would otherwise be forgotten by history. And it's ultimately a testament to the joy football can bring and human's primal connection to the game.--Roger Bennett, journalist, author, and co-host of the Men in Blazers podcast and TV show
Every lost life in Soccer under the Swastika deserves to be remembered. Soccer brings us closer to them--kicking a ball, sitting in the stands cheering, or listening to match commentaries on the radio, they are recognizable people like us, albeit in an unrecognizable time. The distance between them and us grows inexorably, their faces begin to fade, and a book like this helps to restore their humanity.--Simon Kuper, journalist with the Financial Times, award-winning author of Football Against the Enemy, and coauthor of New York Times bestseller Soccernomics
Soccer under the Swastika by Kevin Simpson is a masterpiece of historical importance. As a former athlete who has competed internationally in general and as a Jewish soccer player in particular, I believe this is a book that must be read. This is a book that shows the power of our sport to both inspire and sustain hope during the darkest of times. It is a story of the "beautiful game" in a very different context. I encourage you to read it.--Shep Messing, former NY Cosmos and US Olympic soccer team goalkeeper and television analyst
For me, it was a journey to my family's roots, who were lost in Auschwitz, and on the way, some celluloid memories of them, playing soccer before they perished. Finally, a book in English that can answer all the questions, reveal all the myths and tell the story of soccer under the Nazi boot in Europe during World War Two.--Oded Breda, filmmaker, program director of Beit Theresienstadt Memorial (Israel), and nephew of murdered Liga Terezin prisoner-player Pavel Breda
Rarely are the spirits of a subject and a book about it as well matched as in Kevin Simpson's vivid, absorbing, and very well contextualized account of Soccer under the Swastika. Clearly a labor of love by an author who knows "the beautiful game" inside and out, the story told in this book will consistently engage and recurrently move and trouble its readers.--Peter Hayes, Theodore Zev Weiss Holocaust Educational Foundation Professor Emeritus, Northwestern University
This is a book about the co-existence of the beautiful game and the worst evil. It is a heartbreaking, painful book, but it is also a work of history, which is why it needs to be read.--Stefan Szymanski, Stephen J. Galetti Professor of Sport Management, University of Michigan, and co-author of Soccernomics

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