Anorak News | War Balls

War Balls

by | 10th, February 2006

‘THERE’S not long to go before the World Cup gets underway in Germany, and the papers are desperate to avoid any mention of the war.

He’s got the whole world in his hands

Problem is that the war keeps invading the sports stories.

Last week, in an informative and knowing article in the Star on the 95-room Schlosshotel Bühlerhöhe close to Baden-Baden, where team England will be hard at it during the tournament, Hitler made a shock appearance.

“SVEN WE NEED A GHOULKEEPER,” said the headline over a story that the five-star hotel in Germany’s Black Forest is haunted by the spirit of Adolf Hitler.

The Star heard locals say that guests had woken in the night to see Hitler’s “screaming ghost in a ball of flames”.

We don’t want to mention ze var but then neither do we want our brave boys to be confronted by the last word in night lights.

And there’s more. The Sun says that English fans caught goose-stepping, straight-arm waving and rubbing the index fingers under their noses will be arrested.

For purposes of instruction, the paper illustrates its cultural travel guide to Germany with a front-page shot of Basil Fawlty putting considerable effort into not mentioning the war.

This is sensible reporting. Forewarned is forearmed. So, when in Germany, keep your forearms bent at the elbow at all times. If you find yourself struck by a sudden desire to point at something high up, like an airplane, a cloud or David Beckham’s penalty from Euro 2004, use a branch or a small child for the purpose.

There is a strong desire not to offend the hosts. So keen is it that the Sun, pricked by a sense of European brotherhood, feels compelled to tell the German police that their logo looks like, well – you guessed it – Hitler.

It’s as if the Germans are fixated with the man. Will they never let him go? If they’re not letting him run amuck in hotels, they’re sticking his head on a football.

For your education, we’ve reproduced said logo on this page. As the Sun notes, the character wears a military-style cap and balances the world on his finger.

All very innocent. Until you notice the black smudge. As a spokesman for Germany’s National Football Information Point tells the paper: “The position of the black panel is unfortunate if you look at it in a certain way. But it is arguable whether people would think it was Hitler – unless the resemblance was pointed out.”

So lest you think the logo looks like some demented snowman, the Sun points out the image’s resemblance to the Nazi leader (with an arm bent to the point of deformity).

It also hears from a national police spokesman. He adds: “We are very disappointed and cannot understand how somebody could think this smiling face is the dictator.”

Indeed. But facts are facts. One German cop’s happy football is a tabloid writer’s grinning despot.

But at least we all understand that football is just a game. So long as we don’t mention ze var…’

Posted: 10th, February 2006 | In: Back pages Comment | TrackBack | Permalink