The Death Match

The Death Match is a name for a football game on 9 August 1942 in Kiev between FC Start, a local team which consisted of former professional footballers from Dynamo Kyiv and Lokomotyv Kyiv, and Flakelf, a team of German air defence artillery.

The fact that a game of football was played between the occupying Nazi forces and a number of local Ukrainian footballers is in itself not that interesting, nor the fact that the game was won by the natives with a score of 5-3; what is interesting though, is the allegation that all FC Start players were captured and executed after the match by the Gestapo.

We will need to stress the word ‘allegation’ here because the massacre of the Ukrainian players was probably invented by Soviet propaganda. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, historians and Ukrainian eyewitnesses have refuted the fact all the players killed after the match.

Unfortunately, there was no happy ending. Even though there was no immediate post-match mass killing, all but three players of the FC Start team were arrested and killed by the Nazis during the war. And so it turns out, sadly, The Death Match was not a complete hoax.

Interestingly, the Ukrainian team won the match even though the referee was a German SS soldier.

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