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Kurt Landauer - Bayern's Jewish President

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With a new book and movie being released, it's time to learn about one of Bayern's most important presidents.

Lennart Preiss

Kurt Landauer is a name that even some of the most dedicated Bayern fans might not know. Philipp Lahm recently told Bild, "While someone like Franz Beckenbauer is definitely a household name, most know little or nothing about Kurt Landauer, yet he has probably one of the most fascinating stories since the founding of the club."

Landauer, born in 1884 to a Jewish merchant family, played for Bayern in 1901 and was elected president in 1913, shortly before the outbreak of World War I. He was elected again in 1919 and served until 1933 when he resigned as a result of the growing power of the Nazis. Landauer was sent to the Dachau concentration camp following Kristallnacht and eventually released. He returned to Munich to serve a third term as president from 1947 to 1951.

Landauer is the longest serving president of FC Bayern and his influence is still apparent today. Lahm wrote in the introduction of a biography about Landauer, "the title of this book rightfully elevates our club's first great president to inventor of FC Bayern."

After years of not winning anything, Landauer dedicated his entire second term as president to clinching the title. He built up a youth system, a unique idea at the time, and, with careful planning, put Bayern on solid financial standing. He also was in favor of players earning money for their time spent on the pitch, something that many considered un-German and unsportsmanlike. He thought that players should be rewarded and that money could be used as an incentive to bring talented athletes to the club.

Finally, on April 24th, 1932, with goals from Oskar Rohr and Franz Krumm, Bayern beat Eintracht Frankfurt in Nuremburg, winning their first championship. Unfortunately the Nazis came to power a few months later and Landauer resigned.

While in office, Landauer stressed the importance of foreign football. He saw foreign teams as an essential part of football culture and as an opportunity to learn from the more experienced. Bayern regularly played Swiss opponents and measured themselves against the football giants of Budapest and Vienna. The DFB, however, insisted upon "German football" free from "foreign influences." Landauer wholeheartedly disagreed and voiced his disdain often.

It is difficult to write about Kurt Landauer and not mention how he, the club, and the Bayern players at the time acted and were treated under the growing power of the Nazis and the rise of anti-Semitism. Landauer, as a Jewish man, was obviously targeted and the club was branded as a "Jewish Club," despite having only a small amount of members with Jewish origins. The Nazis saw professional football as a product of the Jews and fought hard to keep it at an amateur level. Landauer, with his support of foreign football and players’ wages, was of a different mindset.

One of the probably most important and memorable events of Bayern’s "Jewish history" happened in 1943 when the club competed in a friendly against a Swiss team in Zurich. Landauer, four years after escaping Dachau, was in the stands. Under the watchful eyes of the Gestapo, the Bayern players greeted their president. They could have faced harsh penalties and fines for acknowledging Landauer, but they did it anyway.

While many may have forgotten his name or have never even heard of him before, Landauer has become an icon for the Südkurve. The Schickeria have regularly featured him in their choreography. They recently won the Julius Hirsch Award for Tolerance in Football for their displays and have organized the Kurt Landauer tournament in his honor. They recognize that this man dedicated his life to serving Bayern and this is their way of saying thank you to someone who may be otherwise forgotten.

Landauer embodies the spirit of Mia San Mia and the spirit of FC Bayern and his vision has been kept alive decades after he left the club. There is not another club in Germany that is so closely connected to its roots and there is not another club in Germany that has such a huge respect for professional football. The youth system, the solid financial foundation and the importance of the welfare of players are all precedents that Landauer set during his reign as president. We are who we are because of Kurt Landauer.

A book by Dirk Kämper entitled Kurt Landauer: Der Mann, der den FC Bayern Erfand. Eine Biografie was recently released and is available for purchase now (in German). A film about Landauer’s life - "Landauer - Der Präsident" - will air on ARD on October 15th. You can watch a scene from it here. There was an exclusive preview held on Sunday at the FCB-Erlebniswelt:

Many thanks to @BubbleFail for help with tricky translations.