Historic first against wolves
Makkabi Berlin: Banned by the Nazis, now in cup fever
8/13/2023 8:54 am
Makkabi Berlin is the first Jewish club to compete in the main round of the DFB Cup, which otherwise only makes headlines when it is met with anti-Semitic hostility. For the underdog, the duel with Bundesliga club VfL Wolfsburg is “the greatest success of a Jewish sports club outside of Israel”.
Banned during the Nazi era, re-established in the 1970s – and suddenly on everyone’s lips: When the amateur footballers from Makkabi Berlin enter the tranquil Mommsen Stadium alongside the millionaires from VfL Wolfsburg, they have long since won. “What we will experience there on August 13 is an incredible success for the Jewish community in Germany and beyond, regardless of the result,” says Michael Koblenz, sports director of the fifth division club, in an SID interview.
The anticipation of the historic cup duel with the wolves in the afternoon (3.30 p.m. / Sky) is enormous in the west of the capital. After the success in the Berlin State Cup, Makkabi is the first Jewish club to play in the first round of the DFB Cup. “Basically, it’s the biggest success of a Jewish sports club outside of Israel,” said Koblenz. Political representatives are also expected at the game, and the Israeli ambassador sat in the stands in the state cup final.
The club has an eventful history, it was banned under the Nazis and revived in 1970. “If you know the history of the club, you know that this is really an achievement,” said Koblenz. In the recent past, the club only made headlines when it received anti-Semitic hostility. Now we are happy to also cause a stir in sport. “For me personally as a Jewish player and as a permanent part of this club, of course it also means a lot historically,” captain Doron Bruck told SID.
Connection to Kovac and Gerland
The club does a lot for integration, overall coach Wolfgang Sandhowe has players from 16 different nations in his squad. But the atmosphere is always great. “There are so many different characters, nations and religions. We’re just trying to learn from each other,” said Bruck, emphasizing: “The most important thing is that we have fun on the pitch.” This also applies to this afternoon.
And sporty? The club from the Oberliga Nordost-Nord doesn’t want to hide from around 5,000 spectators, but goes into the duel with the cup winner from 2015 without any pressure. “It would be good if the place were plowed up a bit the day before (through a football game, ed.) It would be good if there was full hail and rain at the start of the game. And the most important thing is: they have to underestimate us,” said Sandhowe with a smile.
The 70-year-old coach Fox has seen a lot in his football life, once worked alongside Hermann “Tiger” Gerland in Nuremberg – and trained Wolfsburg’s current assistant coach Robert Kovac there. “He was with me every day on the header pendulum and had to make 40 headers. After six months he was a beast in the air. After the season he said: Coach, I owe you so much,” said Sandhowe. When they meet again, the coach now wants to “hold zero for a long time and play quickly on the counterattack. They have to beat us first”.