Germany vs England 1938: Before a State Of War Existed Between Us

Mark BatemanCorrespondent ISeptember 3, 2009

On this day, 70 years ago, The British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain famously said:

"This morning the British Ambassador in Berlin handed the German Government a final note stating that, unless we hear from them by 11 o'clock that they were prepared at once to withdraw their troops from Poland, a state of war would exist between us. I have to tell you now that no such undertaking has been received, and that consequently this country is at war with Germany."

This infamous speech was the culmination of years of attempts by the British and French governments to appease Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany and prevent World War II.

One of the most famous sporting moments in this process was the international match between Germany and England at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, in 1938.

The game was watched by more than 110,000 fans and was a sad day for England as the Foreign Office told the team that they must salute their German hosts before the game as a mark of respect.

To this date, that moment is still a contentious topic, the players later said they had their eyes fixed on the Union Jack being flown to take their mind off what they had been forced to do.

Some historians even say the England team nearly mutinied when they was told they had to salute the Fuhrer.

England fielded some very famous names that day, including: Sir Stanley Matthews, then a 23-year-old Stoke City player, Cliff 'Boy' Bastin of Arsenal as well as 20-year-old Sheffield Wednesday forward, John 'Jackie' Robinson.

England went on to defeat Germany 6-3 with goals from Cliff Bastin, Jackie Robinson (2) Frank Broome, Stanley Matthews and Len Goulden.

The result went some way in repairing the pride of the England team. But, although they lost, Hitler had scored a massive propaganda victory.

Nazi Germany was now a recognised state, not a pariah country in Europe, but one that was respected by that of the other European powers.

When the war was declared a year later, the World would see six years of unspeakable horror. 50 million people would lose their lives, including six million in the Holocaust.

Many of the players in that England and Germany match would fight for their country, some paying the ultimate sacrifice.

We must remember those who fought and died in the name of freedom during that terrible war and all the others.

England would not play a unified Germany for more than 60 years, putting into context just how much World War II would impact on global politics and geography.

Compared to such events that faced the World then and still face the World now, remember, Football is only a game.