I found myself a little perplexed by Kuper’s writing and the contradictory nature of the Dutch response to WWII. From what I understand, soccer clubs play a central role in the lives of most Dutch people. Kuper goes so far as to say that, “everyone agreed that betraying one’s country was a bad thing. However, to paraphrase E.M. Forster, many people thought it better than betraying one’s soccer club. There must have been vast numbers of Dutchmen who felt more loyal to club than country” (121). Kuper explains that prior to the war many Jewish members belonged to Ajax, during the war, however, during the war the team disassociated with the Jewish community and banned Jews from playing in and enjoying Ajax games. In my opinion, for an organization to do nothing to help members, shows that they took a stance by choosing to abandon their Jewish members. Their inaction reveals just as much about their community during this time as others’ action. Furthermore, it seems as though the inaction during the war has carried over to present day – where it seems as though mum is the word among the Ajax community with regards to Ajax’s stance during WWII. I do love the stumbling stones laid throughout the city as a possible solution, to keep the memories alive today. These stones serve as a constant reminder of the horrors of WWII and allow people easy access to information about the history of where they stand.
Nevertheless, Kuper points out that things weren’t so black and white. During the war, Kuper contends, people acted either goed (good) or fout (wrong), but there were also undoubtably unspoken blurred lines. Kuper uses the example of a Hollandsche Schouwburg guard, Joop Pelser, who was branded as fout for becoming a guard during the war. Consequently, Pelser was also goed because he tipped off a Jewish friend of an impending raid by the Nazis, and hid the friend in his house for months. Kuper uses stories and information collected from the Ajax club to reveal the everyday experiences of the Dutch during the war. Rather than looking at museum artifacts from the war and destruction, Kuper focuses on the everyday life and how people fared during these years. In light of the Weiner reading, I think it Kuper takes a hands-on approach and fully engages with the community to conduct his research and open up discussion.
One of the things that stuck out to me what in the Kupper reading, is Kuper’s discussion of The Purge Committee and Jaap Hordijk. Hordijk was temporarily banned from Ajax (they lifted the ban shortly after issuing it) because he chose to play soccer for a German club while living in Germany, and chose to salute Hitler with the rest of the team before games. Kuper explains, “[Hordijk] did not have to play soccer. Nobody did” (117). Some people quit playing when they became obliged to salute Hitler. This intersection of politics and sports culture reminds me of Kaeperick’s spotlight in the news today.