Book probes Nazi past of German soccer federation

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It has taken 60 years for Germany's soccer federation to face up to a dark period in its history when it collaborated with the Nazis. A new book, "Fussball underm Hakenkreuz" ("Soccer under the Swastika") is a first, if belated, attempt by the federation (DFB) to look at the dirt swept under the carpet immediately after the collapse of the Nazi regime it once wholeheartedly backed.

The book illuminates how closely the DFB cooperated with the Nazis from the moment they took power in 1933 and systematically forced out thousands of German Jews from all levels of soccer, from players to club owners and sponsors.

Many Jews, including former leading national team player Julius Hirsch, went on to die in Nazi death camps.

"Julius Hirsch had been a national hero but from one day to the next (he) was treated like an insect," said Theo Zwanziger, the present DFB co-president. "We want to come to terms with our past and not just brush over all this."

"It took far too long for this book to be written," Otto Schily, Germany's minister for sport, told a news conference on Tuesday. "But it also took a long time for Germany as a nation to be able to look clearly at what happened in the Nazi era."

Schily said the DFB deserved a share of the blame for the decades-long cover-up of its collaboration with the Nazis.

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