World Cup whisky and the Cold War: When East & West Germany met

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A superb series of activities was set in motion after East Germany’s 1-0 victory over West Germany in the 1974 World Cup.

It turned into the only soccer match among the nations, ideological opposites partitioned following the Second World War.

After the autumn of Nazi Germany, the Communist East has become a satellite nation of the Soviet Union, whilst the capitalist West changed into a fashion of professional zones administered via America, Britain, and France.

Until 1964, they competed inside the Olympics collectively – as the United Team of Germany.

But the East German-built Berlin Wall erected 3 years earlier was a signal of diminishing political warmth. When Erich Honecker took over East Germany’s only birthday celebration in 1971, he announced that unification with the West was no longer a goal.

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For years the East Germans rejected West German overtures to play soccer. It changed into visible as too much of a chance – there was a miles more chance of defeat than in sports together with swimming and weightlifting.

But in a World Cup, there was no choice.

“The officials had been hoping it would not be a disgrace,” says Hans-Jurgen Kreische, a softly-spoken former Dynamo Dresden and East Germany striker who performed within the landmark recreation at Hamburg’s Volksparkstadion on 22 June 1974.

“The players did not feel any stress, although. On the contrary, we have been searching ahead to comparing ourselves to the West.

“It was something we repeatedly strived for. However, the government usually averted.”

In the West, Germany facet had been captain Franz Beckenbauer and prolific striker Gerd Muller. They have been the host state and the European champions.

No wonder Hans Apel, then a month into his new activity as the united states’ finance minister and a spectator on the group degree healthy, turned into in confident mood.

“I became pretty sure we’d beat them as a minimum three-zero,” he said, speaking earlier than his demise in 2011.

“I wasn’t excited; I wasn’t anxious. We had been excellent at soccer, and nobody knew something approximately them.”

The match grew to become out pretty in another way. Controlling a bouncing ball and slicing thru the West Germany defense, Magdeburg striker Jurgen Sparwasser struck with 12 minutes left to comfy victory for East Germany.

According to Kreische, the sport was played in pleasant circumstances. Nothing like a derby between enemy states.

Afterward, he and Apel might have a fateful stumble upon.

“Following the final whistle, all the gamers swapped shirts, although we didn’t do it on the pitch because formally it was forbidden,” Kreische says.

“But we were given on thoroughly. We spoke equal language in the end. It turned into a hard, however truthful struggle.”

The win gave East Germany a pinnacle spot in the group, which regarded to honestly paintings in West Germany’s favor.

It meant they avoided Brazil, Argentina, and the Netherlands within the 2d organization degree, landing in Poland, Sweden, and Yugoslavia.

The circus moved on. An exodus of fanatics, gamers, and journalists headed to their next venues. For Apel, it changed into a go back to the real international presidency inside the West German capital Bonn via Dusseldorf.

Kreische becomes on the same flight, en route to Hanover, wherein defending champions Brazil lay in wait.

The two guys sat next to each other.

“He requested me who I turned into,” Apel recalled.

“‘I’m the Finance Minister of the Federal Republic,’ I stated, and he laughed, so I confirmed my identification card. He becomes astonished, perhaps even a bit afraid.

“I stated to him, one factor is sincerely clean, West Germany will in no way win the World Cup.

“But he said to me, ‘no, that is absolutely incorrect; you will be the arena champion.’

“‘You’re just speakme nonsense,’ I stated. ‘Perhaps you are too polite to tell me how terrible this crew is. Let’s make a bet. Five bottles of whisky’.”

Kreische did not have the approach to buy whisky or send it across the border so that they agreed that only Apel would need to pay up if he lost.

The wager becomes set, and Kreische’s career could take an irreversible turn.

West Germany did move on to win the World Cup, coming from a goal down to overcome a notable Netherlands facet 2-1 within the final in Munich.

East Germany had been removed from their intimidating second organization, dropping to the Dutch and Brazil but managing a 1-1 draw with Argentina.

Once he returned to Bonn after the tournament led to July 1974, Apel requested his secretary to shop for him a few bottles of proper whiskey.

“I telephoned the ambassador of East Germany in Bonn, and I said to him, ‘You will get 5 bottles of whisky, and you may transport them please to Mr. Kreische’.”

This is how a diplomatic bag containing several complications-well worths of high-quality scotch crossed one of the international’s most touchy and threatening borders.

“I became stunned to get hold of it at the beginning because I didn’t simply recognize Apelin any respect,” says Kreische.

“In Dresden, we couldn’t acquire West German TV, so we weren’t that well informed. A lot of folks, such as me, didn’t even recognize who he becomes.

“And it was definitely forbidden to have any contact with all of us in West Germany.

“But I turned into allowed to maintain the bottles. I shared them with my pals. It turned into good whisky. Black and White.”

And there, for a few weeks, the problem rested. Until a letter reached Apel’s office.

“I got a typed letter – a peculiar letter,” Apel said.

“Kreische later told me it became written by using the name of the game provider, and he needed to sign it.”

That secret provider became the notorious and pervasive Stasi, who infiltrated each part of East German society. They recruited informants and informants to inform the informants. It could not be possible for Kreische not to consider the potential consequences of taking the whisky.

“I became demanding. I changed into without a doubt privy to the fact someone would notice this affair, but I wasn’t precisely afraid,” he says.

“I had this kind of high position at Dynamo Dresden that I could not simply consider being sacked or expelled from professional recreation.”

He became wrong.

The whisky and a letter that Apel sent with the gift had a devastating effect on Kreische’s profession.

“In my letter, there stood a sentence which created extra problems for him,” Apel said.

“It study ‘I wish that we can meet again quickly.’ This created the impression there could have been greater than soccer communication and a simple guess.”

In 1976, East Germany received the football gold medal at the Montreal Olympics. But Kreische became absent. He accompanied their historic exploits from Dresden as an alternative.

“That year Dynamo Dresden was the top team of the country. We received the league name and the cup, and I was the pinnacle scorer, with 24 goals,” he says.

“After I read my Stasi document in 2004, I now know that it turned into because of this guess that I wasn’t taken.

“The report said: ‘Sportsman Kreische is not applicable to represent East Germany at the Olympic Games.”

Two years later, at the age of 30, Kreische retired.

But notwithstanding lacking out on an Olympic gold medal, he is nonetheless delighted with his contribution to East German soccer records and his 50 caps for his u. S . A.

“Why have to I mourn or remorse something that came about see you later in the past?

“Since then, I met Apel, and we became exact friends. He regretted that the whole lot had harmed me a lot.

“That I could be part of that 1974 World Cup changed into overwhelming. And that we ought to prove we ought to play true soccer on the alternative aspect of Germany become outstanding.”