Ajax Response

“The Germans were not asking him to lie or hurt or kill somebody, just play in a good team with many of his friends.” (183) This quote from Ajax encapsulates the context behind the photo I selected for todays assignment. I feel inclined to agree with Zach L’s previous post in saying the infamous photograph of the England team was by far the most shocking photo presented by Ajax in this chapter. 

This photo depicts the team gibing the Nazi Salute before the kick off of the friendly game in Berlin on May 13, 1983, To say the very least, I was shocked and appalled to view this photo. What this photo represents is a prestigious athletic institution displaying their allegiance to Hilter. The implications of the actions of each player in this photo go far beyond what is objectively presented, however. The quote referenced above proves that this image may appear atrocious, but actually has extremely pivotal, and widely unknown context. The symbolism behind the gesture presented is horrific. However, it is important to note that the players were not necessarily given autonomy here.  The decision to engage in this act was a result of pressure from external (and powerful) government forces and institutions. The players in this instance were deprived of personal choice. Regardless, the salute is immortalized in this photo, despite the fact the choice to engage in this salute was not made by the players themselves, but by a power above them. This photo truly encapsulates the power governments have over individuals in society, and the permanent impacts. 

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2 thoughts on “Ajax Response

  1. Of course, one can always push the question of personal choice further: any of those players could have refused. They would of course have to face the consequences–likely being not allowed to play or even sent home or banned from the league. This is what all three Olympic medalists Tommie Smith and John Carlos risked at the 1968 games with their Black Power salute, and Australian Peter Norman for wearing a Olympic Project for Human Rights badge. They accepted those consequences, though. The question to ask in each case would seem to be what the consequences are and what the actors knew at the time they made those choices. https://www.history.com/news/1968-mexico-city-olympics-black-power-protest-backlash

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  2. Seeing the entire British football team give the Nazi salute is, indeed, appalling, not only because of the support they showed to an objectively evil regime but because professional sports players were essentially celebrities and many people looked up to and attempted to imitate them. By giving the salute, they signaled that affirmation of or, at least, indifference to the Nazis was acceptable. Indeed, however, we cannot place the brunt of the blame onto the players. So many atrocities could have been prevented if those in power took proactive effort to cut off support for the Nazis rather than enforcing some diplomatic norm. When people are guided by indifference, evil wins.

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