The Strange World of Football in Cold War East Germany with Craig McCracken

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East German Football

<Welcome to Episode 3 of Cold War Conversations where we hear about the strange world of football in East Germany and even if you are not interested in football it’s a fascinating chat.

Craig McCracken runs the website,, described as 20th century football writing and nostalgia in a skilled and cultured groove.

One of his areas of interest is football in the GDR and from our conversation you’ll realise he is a fount of knowledge from BSG Rotation Babelsberg to FC Hansa Rostock and all stops between.

We talk about the nefarious activities of Stasi Chief Erich Mielke and his favourite team, and we cover the only competitive game where the GDR played West Germany in the 1974 World Cup. Craig also describes a Stasi chase through the bazaars of Istanbul to stop player defections and a suspicious death of a former GDR player in West Germany.

I’m delighted to welcome Craig McCracken.


BFC Dynamo vs Locomotive Leipzig – dodgy penalty decision video (in German)

1974 World Cup – GDR anthem played by West German Navy

Jurgen Sparwasser scores the winning goal for the GDR at the 1974 World Cup

GDR last ever international match

The Life of Others – movie trailer

Goodbye Lenin – movie trailor

Text links

The Last Days of East German Football

East Germany’s last international match

FC Karl Marx Stadt – The most beautiful football strip ever! (according to Craig)

Harry Tisch – GDR Trade union leader and Hansa Rostock Supporter

Defection and murder of Lutz Eigendorf


Joy Division – Insight

John Foxx – Underpass

Simple Minds – The American

Ultravox – Mr X


Football State and Society Amazon US link            Amazon UK Link

The Ball is Round Amazon US Link             Amazon UK Link

Stasi  Amazon US link      Amazon UK link

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