The Death Match

The Death Match

Football Match
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The Death Match

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The Death Match was the Soviet propaganda name for a non-official association football match in 1942 between the local workers of a bakery factory — former professional footballers from Dynamo Kyiv and Lokomotyv Kyiv — and soldiers of the Nazi German Wehrmacht.Riordan, James. "The Match of Death: Kiev, 9 August 1942" in Soccer & Society, Volume 4, Issue 1 March 2003, pp. 87-93. DOI: 10.1080/14660970512331390753 The Kievan footballers defeated the Germans, and according to Soviet sources, many of the players were later arrested and sent to a labor camp.

In 2005, the Prosecution Office of the city of Hamburg closed the case file about the "legendary" Death Match after over 30 years. The verdict indicated there was no evidence that the Kievan footballers were shot for being victorious over their German opponents.

Soviet propaganda

According to Soviet propaganda, the match was conducted in order to portray the best qualities of the Aryan race and force the footballers of Dynamo Kiev to play against the Luftwaffe team under the condition of loss or death. The Dynamo players did not heed the ultimatum, went on to win the match, and paid for their victory with their lives. They were all arrested and later executed by firing squad. Later sources only mentioned four deaths.


Football had become very popular in the Soviet Union in the 1930s, particularly in the Ukraine. Ukraine's strongest team at...
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