With the games currently underway in Russia, let's take a look back at some of Germany's most important matches - and the meaning these games had for the German people.
During the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland, West Germany took home the gold, beating Hungary 3-2. At the time, Europe was still recovering from World War II, and Germany was struggling to rebuild itself and its reputation in the global community. The World Cup victory gave Germany a newfound sense of pride and happiness. Some historians even consider this victory a turning point for post-war Germany.
“It was a kind of liberation for the Germans from all the things that weighed down upon them after the Second World War,” wrote German historian Joachim Fest. “July 4, 1954 is in certain aspects the founding day of the German Republic.”
Twenty years later, West Germany became the host of the 1974 World Cup, which reinforced Germany’s sense of community on the world stage. The West German team also won the championship that year. But one of the most memorable moments in German soccer was when West Germany experienced its only loss of the tournament in a game against East Germany, thanks to a goal scored by Jürgen Sparwasser.
The fall of the wall marked another turning point in German soccer: the 1990 World Cup was once again won by the West German team, but it was clear that this would be the last time Germany competed with two teams. The victory was celebrated by both German teams, and a few months later, they were united. At the time, German soccer player Franz Beckenbauer was convinced that the united team would become unbeatable in the years to come.
And of course, most of us remember Germany’s most recent World Cup victory from 2014, which was also Germany’s first champion title since the 1990 championship.
Since the establishment of the World Cup in 1930, Germany has claimed four World Cup victories and hosted the games twice (1974 and 2006). Germany’s first World Cup game of 2018 takes place on Sunday against Mexico! Who will you be rooting for?
Nicole Glass – Editor, The Week in Germany