WORLD CUP OF SOCCER GROUP D: THROUGH A COLD WAR LENS
The World Cup Soccer Group D teams include Germany, Australia, Serbia, and Ghana. Stats and team info are courtesy of ESPN.
Nickname: DIE MANNSCHAFT (The Term)
Record: W 55/ D 19/ L 18
Best Performance: Winners in ’54, ’74, ’90
Group Stage Schedule:
June 13 vs. Australia – Win
June 18 vs. Serbia – Loss
June 23 vs. Ghana – 2 PM ET
With three World Cup titles, four Runner-Up, and three Third Place finishes, Germany is a winning machine. Some of the best players in history have worn the Germany crest on their chest. In South Africa, the German team will strive to continue this winning tradition and add to the long list of legendary DIE MANNSCHAFT terms.
The European Recovery Plan or Marshall Plan, announced in June, 1947, committed the US to the reconstruction of Europe. Confronting Germany’s risk of hunger, poverty, and economic despair was certainly central. The fact that Germany was divided was inconsequential because the plan, at that time, did not distinguish between areas under Soviet Control and other areas.
Stalin responded to the Marshall Plan by tightening his grip. He would not allow the USSR or its satellites to engage in the plan. He fell into a trap that enabled the US to seize both the geopolitical and the moral initiative in the emerging Cold War. So far as Germany was concerned, this meant a blockade of Berlin.
Stalin’s rationale is unclear. He may have hoped to force the Americans, British, and French out of their respective sectors of the divided city. But, whatever his purpose, Stalin’s blockade backfired. The western allies improvised an airlift for Berlin, an action that earned them the gratitude of the Berliners, the respect of most Germans, and a global public relations triumph.
By the time Stalin lifted the Berlin blockade in May, 1949, the North Atlantic Treaty had been signed and the Federal Republic of Germany had been proclaimed in Bonn. Stalin’s strategy for gaining control of postwar Europe lay in ruins.
Still, the temporary arrangements agreed to at the end of World War II were now frozen in place. Berlin was divided into American, British, French, and Soviet sectors. The Allied sectors were positioned more than 100 miles inside the East German state Stalin had created in 1949, and were surrounded by several hundred thousand Soviet troops.
Situated in the middle of communist East Germany, the western-occupied parts of Berlin reflected the virtues of capitalism and democracy. Nevertheless, West Berlin, led a precarious existence. Nothing prevented the Russians — or even the East Germans — from cutting off land access to the city as Stalin had done years earlier.
Soviet-occupied East Berlin was also vulnerable. By 1961, some 2.7 million East Germans had fled through the open border to West Berlin and then on to West Germany. The overall population of the German Democratic Republic had declined, from 19 million to 17 million.
The Berlin Wall was designed to end this out-migration. It went up on the might of August 12-13, 1961, and was first a barbed wire barrier, later a concrete block wall some 12 feet high and almost 100 miles long. The wall was protected by look-out towers, minefields, police dogs, and guards with orders to shoot to kill anyone who tried to cross it.
On November 9, 1989, after several weeks of civil unrest, the East German government announced that all GDR citizens could visit West Germany and West Berlin.
Crowds of East Germans crossed and climbed onto the wall, joined by West Germans on the other side in a celebratory atmosphere.
Over the next few weeks, souvenir hunters and the general public chipped away parts of the wall; the governments later used industrial equipment to remove most of the rest.
The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 signaled the end of the Cold War and paved the way for German reunification which was formally concluded on October 3, 1990. The breakdown of the Soviet Union soon followed.
Nickname: THE SOCCEROOS
Record: W 1/ D 2/ L 4
Best Performance: Round of 16 in ’06
Group Stage Schedule:
June 13 vs. Germany – Loss
June 19 vs. Ghana – Draw
June 23 vs. Serbia
Australia advanced to the Round of 16 in 2006 in The World Cup Soccer with help from revered manager Guus Hiddink. Guus has moved on, but most of the 2006 SOCCEROOS are back. Led by midfielder Tim Cahill, and supported by the devoted green and gold army, Australia will be looking to keep the fight alive in South Africa.
Despite its rather out-of-the-way geographical location, Australia was an active participant in Cold War activities and actions.
Australian forces were sent to Malaya in June,1950, to fight Communist insurgency in what was called “the Malayan Emergency.”
The nation conducted a series of atomic weapons tests at the request of the British Government between 1952 and 1956. Hundreds of minor trials, mostly involving components of nuclear weapons, also took place in South Australia 1953 and 1963.
Australia provided assistance to the US effort in South Vietnam, initially sending instructors who were not permitted to accompany the South Vietnamese into combat. In 1965, Australia’s commitment to the war was stepped up to include combat troops.
After two Indonesian raids designed to destabilize the newly independent nation of Malaysia, the Australian government deployed a battalion in Borneo. Indonesia and Malaysia signed a peace treaty in 1966.
But perhaps most memorably, Australia was the central player in the notorious Petrov Affair.
Espionage was an important part of the Cold War conflict. The Soviet intelligence agency (KGB and its predecessors) was successful in penetrating some sensitive areas of the US and other Western governments. This was usually done with the cooperation of citizens in Western countries or by Soviet diplomats. (For more on the Red Scare in the US click here.)
The Petrovs arrived in Australia in 1951. Under the cover of being Russian diplomats, both were Soviet spies.
Petrov’s intelligence role in Australia included decoding intelligence instructions from Moscow, establishing an illegal network of Australian spies, organizing the surveillance of Soviet citizens, and undermining anti-Soviet activities by infiltrating Russian emigre and Soviet refugee groups.
Petrov failed to develop the spy network in Australia, was associated with the deposed Russian security chief, Beria, and was the subject of several unfavorable evaluations. As a result he would not have expected a happy return to Russia and he came to see defection as his only option.
After much torturous soul searching Petrov finally chose to defect on 3 April 1954. Even his wife, Evdokia, was unaware of her husband’s decision.
The affair grew more dramatic when — in the heat of an election year — Australia’s Prime Minister, Robert Menzies, told the House of Representatives that Petrov had brought documents with him concerning wide-ranging Soviet espionage in Australia.
In truth, the documents were found to contain little more than the kind of political gossip that could be compiled by any journalist. While there had been some Soviet espionage in Australia, there was no major Soviet spy ring.
Nickname: BELI ORLOVI (The White Eagles)
Appearance: 11th (1st as independent nation: 9 as Yugoslavia, 1 as Serbia and Montenegro)
Record: W 16/ D 8/ L 16
Best Performance: Fourth Place in ’30, ’62 (as Yugoslavia)
Group Stage Schedule:
June 13 vs. Ghana – Loss
June 18 vs. Germany – Win
June 23 vs. Australia
This will be Serbia’s first time entering the The World Cup Soccer as an independent nation. Whether the BELI ORLOVI follow the path of Yugoslavian success in the ’90s, or exit early like Serbia & Montenegro in ’06, remains to be seen. With 6’8″ Nikola Zigic on the pitch, Serbia can create a new history in South Africa.
During the Cold War, Serbian communists ruled Yugoslavia’s political life. Josip Broz Tito, a committed — but independent — communist, provided strong leadership for Yugoslavia’s federal system of government.
After splitting with the Soviet Union in 1948, Tito was free to accept aid from the Marshall Plan and to become a leader of the non-aligned movement. (For more information click here.)
Under Tito’s rule, Serbia was transformed from an agrarian to an industrial society. However, by the time Tito died in 1980, the economy was failing, and separatist and nationalist tensions were emerging.
In the late 1980s, Slobodan Milosevic gained power in Belgrade, exploiting Serbian nationalism as he achieved prominence.
Milosevic began campaigning for a stronger Yugoslav federal center, ordering the firing of large numbers of ethnic Albanian state employees, whose jobs were then taken by Serbs.
As a result, Kosovo Albanian leaders led a peaceful resistance movement in the early 1990s and established a parallel government funded mainly by the Albanian diaspora.
Between 1991 and 1992, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Macedonia all seceded from Yugoslavia.
Tito’s dream of a peaceful federation was in tatters. The post Cold War period has been marred by ethnic and nationalist conflict.
Nickname: THE BLACK STARS
Record: W 2/ D 0/ L 2
Best Performance: Round of 16 in ’06
Group Stage Schedule:
June 13 vs. Serbia – Win
June 19 vs. Australia – Draw
June 23 vs. Germany
Ghana was the only African team to advance to the Round of 16 in ’06, its first ever World Cup. In 2010, THE BLACK STARS will be looking to surprise the world again. Led by midfield star Michael Essien, Ghana will be a force in Group D and one of the African teams to beat.
The Gold Coast, a former British colony in West Africa, became the independent state of Ghana on March 6, 1957 with Kwame Nkrumah as president.
A self-avowed socialist and anti-imperialist, Nkrumah aimed to modernize Ghana through the twin ideals of African socialism and Pan-Africanism. Unfortunately, however, as the first post-colonial state in West Africa, Ghana became a testing ground for the ideological battle between the Cold War superpowers for the hearts and minds of Africans.
While Ghana was still a colony, Nkrumah had attended the Bandung Conference of non-aligned nations. In 1958, after independence, he hosted the Conference of Independent African States in the Ghanian capital of Accra.
Later that year Nkrumah enjoyed a successful tour of Canada and the US, including a friendly meeting with the American president, Dwight Eisenhower.
Ike had already agreed to support the controversial Volta River Project that Nkrumah thought necessary for Ghana’s development.
Over time, however, Nkrumah increasingly turned leftward, seeking advice and aid from the Soviet Union. After Patrice Lumumba, the Congolese leader, was executed in 1960, Nkrumah began to believe that the west — and especially the US — wanted to impose a new kind of neocolonialism in Africa.
Kennedy reiterated American support for the Volta River Project in 1961, but he could not gain Nkrumah’s favor.
Instead of friendship with the US, Nkrumah chose to make a state visit to the Soviet Union to seek closer economic ties.
Ultimately, Ghana became a one party state.
In February 1966, Nkrumah flew to Hanoi to negotiate an end to the Vietnam War. While he was out of his country, members of the Ghanian armed forces staged a coup. The new leadership was decidedly pro-western.
In the larger Cold War arena, Nkrumah’s rise and fall were evidence that the two superpowers were limited in what they could effect far from their borders.