When Nazi salutes took over Da­ly­mount

Ruaidhrí Croke:

The Irish Times - Monday - Sport - - Front Page - Ruaidhrí Croke

It had been three years since Adolf Hitler had risen to power as chan­cel­lor of Ger­many when the coun­try’s na­tional foot­ball team touched down in Bal­don­nel Aero­drome with swastikas printed on the tail-fin of their plane and a wel­come party from the Ir­ish Free State Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion await­ing them along with pres­i­dent Ea­mon De Valera and the lord mayor of Dublin Alfie Byrne.

The day was Fri­day Oc­to­ber 16th, 1936 and the Ger­man side were set to take on the Ir­ish Free State in a much-an­tic­i­pated clash at Da­ly­mount Park the fol­low­ing day. Af­ter their ar­rival from Glas­gow – where they had played Scot­land a few days pre­vi­ous – The

Ir­ish Times re­ported that the Ger­man team and of­fi­cials were taken by bus, adorned with swastika flags, to the Gre­sham Ho­tel in the city cen­tre.

Much had al­ready hap­pened in 1936. On March 7th, Ger­many had vi­o­lated the Treaty of Ver­sailles by re-oc­cu­py­ing the Rhineland. Hitler and the Nazi Party were at their most pop­u­lar hav­ing re­built the econ­omy out of the ru­ins in which it lay fol­low­ing the first World War. The rest of Europe was still strug­gling eco­nom­i­cally while Ger­many flour­ished.

The 1936 Berlin Olympics had largely been a suc­cess, al­though the four gold medals won by African-Amer­i­can Jesse Owens did go against the rul­ing party’s de­sire to show that the Aryan race was su­pe­rior to all oth­ers. Mean­while, on the out­skirts of Berlin, Sach­sen­hausen Con­cen­tra­tion Camp – in which an es­ti­mated 30,000 peo­ple died over the next nine years – had just opened.

Within six years Auschwitz would come into ex­is­tence and the Nazi’s Fi­nal So­lu­tion plan would be­gin in earnest. But on that Oc­to­ber week­end in Dublin it was foot­ball and the build­ing of in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions that was on the minds of the two teams and their var­i­ous dig­ni­taries.

Jewish clubs banned

Ire­land had played Ger­many once be­fore, in 1935, and lost by a score­line of 3-1 in Dort­mund but they quite fan­cied their chances in this home fix­ture. While the Nazis did see foot­ball as an im­por­tant way of show­ing strength on a world stage, the game was still yet to be pro­fes­sion­alised in Ger­many while there wasn’t even a na­tional league yet in place. In­stead, teams com­peted in 16 re­gional leagues known as Gauliga – across the coun­try.

Since 1933 all Jewish clubs and play­ers had been banned from com­pe­ti­tion and Ger­many strug­gled in the 1936 Olympics, even­tu­ally los­ing out to Nor­way in front of Joseph Göbbels and Hitler him­self.

Now, just days af­ter los­ing to Scot­land at Ibrox, they faced Ire­land at a packed Da­ly­mount Park. Hav­ing made the short trip up from O’Con­nell Street to Phib­s­bor­ough on that Satur­day af­ter­noon, the Ger­mans com­pleted their warm-up and then lined up for the na­tional an­thems and, in­deed, for what would be the last­ing im­age of the match.

So reads The Ir­ish Times re­port from the day: “Ex­tra­or­di­nary scenes pre­ceded the start and marked the close of an event­ful strug­gle. The Ger­man team lined up in the cen­tre of the field and faced the ‘pop­u­lar stand’. They gave the Nazi salute and, turn­ing to the grand­stand, in which were the of­fi­cials of the Ger­man As­so­ci­a­tion and the four hun­dred Ger­mans who had come by the spe­cially char­tered liner, stood rigidly to at­ten­tion with right arms out­stretched, while the Army Band un­der the lead­er­ship of Colonel Fritz Brase, played the Nazi an­them which was sung by the Ger­mans on the stand.”

Straight arm salutes were com­pul­sory for the Ger­man team at the time so it was not un­usual, but it is none­the­less strik­ing to look back on such a show of sup­port for fas­cism in Da­ly­mount Park, with the swastika-adorned Nazi flag flut­ter­ing along­side the tri­colour. While news of the darker side of Ger­many’s fas­cist gov­ern­ment was al­ready float­ing around in­ter­na­tional me­dia it was still only early days in the regime and many weren’t sure what to be­lieve.

In­deed, three years later the Ir­ish play­ers them­selves would have to raise their right arms in sol­i­dar­ity with the Ger­mans when they played a re­turn fix­ture at the Weser Sta­dium in Bre­men.

Out­spo­ken so­cial­ist, for­mer in­terned Repub­li­can and Ir­ish cap­tain on that day, Jimmy Dunne, is said to have shouted down the line: “Re­mem­ber Aughrim, Re­mem­ber 1916!” as they raised their arm. Also awk­wardly rais­ing his arm on that team was Dubliner and Manch­ester United cap­tain Johnny Carey who, as fate would have it, later joined the Bri­tish Army to fight against the very forces he was sa­lut­ing.

Dash and con­sis­tentcy

Three years ear­lier, on that Oc­to­ber Satur­day af­ter­noon in Da­ly­mount Park, there was even less known about what was to come un­der Hitler’s dic­ta­tor­ship. While the sight of the Ger­man team with their right arms raised has be­come the last­ing im­age from that game, it should also be re­mem­bered that this was an Ir­ish per­for­mance for the ages and one that, ac­cord­ing to The Ir­ish Times, “put Ire­land on the foot­ball map on the Con­ti­nent – and much nearer home.”

The re­port from Da­ly­mount con­tin­ued: “In my close on forty years ex­pe­ri­ence of As­so­ci­a­tion foot­ball I have not seen any Ir­ish team play with greater verve, dash and per­sis­tency than were now dis­played by our play­ers.”

A dom­i­nant per­for­mance from Ire­land saw them run out handy 5-2 win­ners with Old­ham’s Tom Davis scor­ing a brace on his de­but. Such was the ju­bi­la­tion of the Ir­ish sup­port­ers that they stormed the pitch at the end of the game and, ac­cord­ing to The

Ir­ish Times, “took up po­si­tion in front of the grand­stand , and lustily cheered the vis­i­tors, hun­dreds of arms be­ing raised to the Nazi salute.”

It was one thing for the Ger­man team to make Nazi salutes dur­ing their na­tional an­them but hun­dreds of mem­bers of the Ir­ish pub­lic rais­ing their right arms on the pitch at Da­ly­mount Park shows, per­haps, just how lit­tle was known about what was go­ing on in Ger­many at the time. One of the Ger­man dig­ni­taries would later call the show of sol­i­dar­ity from the Ir­ish fans “a mag­nif­i­cent ges­ture of real sports­man­ship”.

There is lit­tle doubt the fact that the Ger­man team in their swastika-adorned kits were treated well in Dublin with min­is­ter for fi­nance Seán MacEn­tee, the lord Mayor of Dublin and for­mer Ir­ish Vol­un­teer and IRA mem­ber Os­car Traynor – at that stage a TD – at­tend­ing a gala din­ner for the team and its dig­ni­taries at the Gre­sham Ho­tel af­ter the match.

But while much has changed both on and off the pitch for Ire­land and Ger­many since that Da­ly­mount Park game, one thing has cer­tainly stayed the same - no­tably the dif­fi­culty English re­porters have in pro­nounc­ing Ir­ish names. Some days af­ter the match,

An Ir­ish­man’s Di­ary in The Ir­ish Times wrote: “I won­der if any of my read­ers got the laugh I did last Satur­day night dur­ing the broad­cast of the sports bul­letin on the na­tional pro­gramme from Lon­don.

Ill-fated re­turn

“We had just been in­formed that Ire­land had beaten Ger­many in the in­ter­na­tional as­so­ci­a­tion foot­ball match in Dublin. Then the an­nouncer told us that ‘Don-nelly’ had scored Ire­land’s first goal, later re­fer­ring to ‘Go-ha­gan’s’ score.

“Did the Don­nellys and the Geoghe­gans shud­der? At a guess I would say they did but, apart from that, does such pro­nun­ci­a­tion in­di­cate that Ir­ish­men do not fig­ure on the BBC pay rolls?”

Three years later Ire­land would line up for that ill-fated re­turn game in Bre­men – the last in­ter­na­tional played by Ire­land be­fore the war. The next time the teams would meet it was back at Da­ly­mount Park again in 1951. The re­sult was the same as Ire­land won 3-2 but, oth­er­wise, ev­ery­thing had changed. This is part of a monthly series called From The Back Pages, ex­am­in­ing sto­ries and events that have made the sports pages of The Ir­ish Times since 1859. If you have sug­ges­tions for sto­ries you would like to see fea­tured email rcroke@irish­times.com or get in touch on Twit­ter @Ruaidhri_Croke. For more in­for­ma­tion on sub­scrib­ing to the archive, see www.irish­times.com/archive.

Ir­ish sup­port­ers ‘took up po­si­tion in front of the grand­stand , and lustily cheered the vis­i­tors, hun­dreds of arms be­ing raised to the Nazi salute’ One of the Ger­man dig­ni­taries would later call the show of sol­i­dar­ity from the Ir­ish fans ‘a mag­nif­i­cent ges­ture of real sports­man­ship’

PHO­TO­GRAPH: GETTY

Clock­wise from main: the match pro­gramme; how The Ir­ish Times re­ported the game; Ir­ish sup­port­ers give the Nazi salute; the Ire­land and Ger­many.

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