Death Match

The Death Match was a soccer match played in Nazi-occupied Kiev in August 1942 between local and German teams. Some time after this match, a number of Kiev soccer players ended up in concentration camps and some were shot.

Creation of the Start team
With the beginning of the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945) many Soviet players went to the front. Among their ranks were the players of Kyiv Dynamo. Those who managed to survive ended up in German captivity. The Nazis wanted to show people in Kiev that they were bringing them peace, not war.

This led to the opening of various cultural institutions in Kiev and the revival of sports. In particular, both Germans and Ukrainians missed soccer. As a result, a team called Start appeared, where there were mostly players from Dynamo Kiev, as well as players from other Ukrainian clubs.
Composition of the Start team (dark shirts)
At the time of occupation most of the Ukrainian players were working at the local bakery. It is worth noting that only three Dynamo players were active in the interrupted Soviet championship: Trusevich, Klimenko and Komarov.

In June 1942 the city championship was started and as a result several games were played between the newly formed teams. In all matches “Start” invariably came out the winner. An interesting fact is that the referee for almost all games was a German officer Erwin, who did his job honestly.

On August 6, 1942, the Flakelf team, consisting of anti-aircraft gunners, as well as pilots and mechanics of the Kiev airfield, played against the Kiev athletes. “Start” won a confident victory with a score of 5-1. Three days later the Nazis gathered a stronger team for a rematch, which was to defeat the Kiev team by all means. That very meeting would go down in history as the “Match of Death”.

The Match of Death
Before the start of the match a German colonel entered the Starta’s dressing room and under threat of imprisonment and execution demanded that the Kievers surrender the game. The reason for this was that the Germans needed to raise the morale of their soldiers so that they felt superior to the enemy in all areas.

Going out onto the field the teams greeted each other: the Nazis: “Heil!”, the Kievers: “Fizkult-hello!”. The Germans were the first to lead in the match, after which the Kievers responded with 3 goals. In the 2nd half the Flakelf players scored 2 more goals, which led to a draw.

Nikola Trusevicha’s game.
Both teams showed aggressive soccer, but “Start” still managed to score 2 more goals and beat their opponent 5:3. The Ukrainians realized how this win would be for them, but they were determined not to give up and play to the best of their ability.

A few days later, they played another game against Rukh, beating it by a landslide, 8-0. This was the last match in the history of the Kiev team in the championship. Kiev’s Stadtkommissar Friedrich Rogausch banned games between German and Kiev teams.

In the morning of August 18, the players of Start were detained directly at work on a denunciation. The denunciation stated that all Dynamo players were members of the NKVD. In reality, only Nikolai Korotkikh was connected with the NKVD.

When the Nazis found a photo of Korotkikh in the uniform of a major, he was subjected to brutal torture from which he soon died. In the same year of 1942 Alexander Tkachenko was shot while trying to escape. The other players were sent to Syretsky concentration camp.

Three of them, Nikolai Trusevich, Ivan Kuzmenko and Alexey Klimenko, were sentenced to be shot the following year. Today there are different versions that only 4 players actually died after the death match, while all the others were killed much later and due to other circumstances.

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