1848 – this year is clearly emblazoned on the club crest of the Bundesliga soccer club VfL Bochum. But a look at history shows that the club from North Rhine-Westphalia was actually founded 90 years later, in the middle of the darkest chapter in German history.
“Our homeland, our love, in the colors blue and white, 1848, just so everyone knows!” is a well-known battle cry from VfL fans. But far from everyone is aware that the club in its current form was not created 170 years ago, but 85 years ago! More precisely: on April 14, 1938.
At that time, Bochum’s Nazi Mayor Otto Piclum made sure that the three clubs Germania, TuS and Turnverein 1848 Bochum zum Club for physical exercise Bochum 1848 merged and thus obediently corresponded to the (sports) political approach of the National Socialists.
Easily recognizable: the year “1848” in the VfL coat of arms
Piclum, among other things editor-in-chief of the NSDAP party newspaper “Rote Erde”, lured the three clubs into waiving all their old debts after VfL was founded. In addition, the stadium on Castroper Straße was expanded and a full-time football coach was hired by the city of Bochum. TuS and Turnverein had already brought their members into line after Hitler came to power in 1933, gradually expelling Jewish members and electing so-called “club leaders” who joined the NSDAP.
Celebrations in the spirit of the Führer
After the merger in 1938, there was a big municipal ceremony to found VfL and then another to mark the 90th anniversary of the gymnastics club, each proudly led by Piclum. The mayor, who had just been elected patron of the new association, staged the two propaganda events with swastikas on the walls of the hall, entirely in the spirit of his party, and placed the celebrations at the service of the Führer.
VfL finally played their first big game only a few weeks later, shortly after the annexation of Austria to the Third Reich, against Ostmark (previously Austria Wien) with high publicity. On May 8, 1938, 7,000 spectators on Castroper Straße saw a game “as a demonstration for the new German Ostmark”, as the “Bochumer Anzeiger” called the exchange of blows at the time.
Years passed under the influence of the Nazis. VfL played successfully as a Gauligist until the end of the war due to the war and remained as a club even after the end of Nazi rule. On July 29, 1949, a separate football community was founded within VfL Bochum, the Club for physical exercise Bochum 1848 football community e. V!
Remembrance culture is finally growing
For several decades, members and managers of the football club spread a cloak of silence about the exact events surrounding the founding of VfL and preferred to put the harmless founding year of the gymnastics club in the foreground (even if sources show that it was ultimately founded in 1849). .
It is only for a few years that historians have devoted themselves to a comprehensive review of the founding history of VfL Bochum. Appropriately, the Bochum fan project distributed a few years ago a leaflet among fans with the slogan “1938 – just so everyone knows”.
This brochure was distributed among VfL fans
The initiators, the “Bochum Places of Remembrance Working Group”, an association of committed VfL fans, had previously dealt intensively with the history of the club and the city in cooperation with experts from the Center for City History, the Ruhr University Bochum and a sports historian .
The quintessence and at the same time a message to all fans: “Tradition and history can only be preserved if we know about them and know our own roots. This confrontation with our own past is called historical awareness.”
In this day and age, when it is important to maintain a living culture of remembrance, VfL Bochum has already taken important steps.