World War II in Ukraine:

Dynamo versus Germany: Soccer Match of Death

Andrew Gregorovich

Dynamo versus Germany: Soccer Match of Death

Dynamo Monument
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.

Page 14 of 29
Icon Icon Icon

Icon  Return to FORUM: A Ukrainian Review Page

Copyright © 1995 Andrew Gregorovich

Reprinted from FORUM Ukrainian Review No. 92, Spring 1995

since March 1st 1997