Kuper Reflection- ZC

I am always fascinated when the world of sports collides with the world of politics. Thus, when Kuper addresses the Nazi salute by the “athletic representatives” of an allied nation in Chapter 8, I began to think more deeply about the thought processes of those there to witness– or create– history.

As Kuper touches on, the team could not have regarded the Nazi salute as entirely bad in 1938. To that point, their own government had been peacefully and diplomatically negotiating with the German Nazi Party, and had no reason to see them as an immediate violent threat. The concept of the Nazi salute would not have presented itself as being an entirely despicable motion to the players at the time, though it would certainly progress into just that over the majority of the next decade.

I believe that this was what Kuper meant when he continuously hinted at the failure of any one aspect of something as completely bad, or completely good. He seems to believe that the world is constantly changing, which allows the good and the bad in things to overshadow one another based on the timing. This is what most surprises me about Kuper’s readings, as the Dutch habit of erasing horrible events from their landscape contrasts with this. I believe that in order for something to be deemed worthy of expulsion, it must have already been deemed completely horrible.


2 thoughts on “Kuper Reflection- ZC

  1. You point out an interesting conflict in Kuper’s thinking here, perhaps: on the one hand, his desire to see things as a historian–in complex ways that relied on moment-by-moment contingencies and shifts in knowledge–vs. his semi-outsider’s penchant for critiquing Dutch insensitive about the holocaust and their reluctance to come to terms with their complicity in it and with the war more largely (their quick surrender). Is there a resolution of this conflict in his writing? or does it remain suspended as a tension?


  2. The idea that people and things are rarely entirely good or bad is a major theme of Ajax, and an important consideration in any discussion of history. In America, the first amendment is based on the idea that all speech is made under various contexts, and the motivations and ideas behind any form of speech are far too complex to restrict without infringing on an individual’s natural rights. In our modern context, British celebrities giving the Nazi salute in front of thousands of people is a horrifying spectacle, but knowing the historical context – the true extent of the Holocaust had yet to be fully revealed, and the British government did not support the notion of boycotting Nazi customs – we can understand the human aspect of this picture, and judge the players’ actions based not on hindsight but on what was understood at the time.


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