It was the most infamous occasion of English sporting deference to the Nazi regime. On 14 May 1938, the England football team gave the Nazi salute in front of a crowd of one hundred thousand in the German Olympic Stadium.  The most shocking aspect however was not the event, but the press reaction to it.  Jonathan Duffy of BBC News Online commented in 2003 that “the gesture provoked outrage in the British press,” yet sadly I could find little or no evidence of any such criticism.

The press did not seem at all concerned by the gesture. Many newspapers didn’t even mention it and of those that did, most thought it appropriate and courteous. The response of  The Times was typical. It observed that “the English team immediately made a good impression by raising their arms in the German salute,” and it praised them for their “splendid exhibition of football,” which was a “polished, clean and effective” display deserving of its comfortable six to three goals victory.



Text (except for attributed quotations) copyright Alisdare Hickson 2018.

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