Kuper Reflection (ZL)

The picture of disabled veterans of World War I watching Allied Serviceman play British Army Team on March 29, 1941 along with Kuper’s text surprised me. Kuper had addressed in “Ajax, the Dutch, the War” that many western Europeans who were not Jews did not feel that their life had been changed too much after the German invasion. Sports events and clubs continued as the war progressed, but astonishingly, people were still highly enthusiastic about soccer and filled up the whole stadium when the event were hold. Even the veterans depicted in the pictures did not seem to be deeply affected by the war. However, despite the feeling of mild occupation, soccer clubs and the society were impacted by the orders of the Germans. Both Sparta and Ajax had to expel their Jewish members. Many members of the soccer clubs had lost their own life or their family members during the course of the war.

Kuper rarely mentioned the front lines in his text whereas the photo of the disabled veterans watching soccer game revealed more. The destructive aspects of the war were conveyed through the persecuted Jewish community inside the city but also through the soldiers. The World War I veterans resembled the ongoing situation of the Second World War and the aftermath of the war. They were at the front line where the war actually took place and had been left a mark by the war. The soldiers could be the protectors of their nations but also the invaders of others. After returning, everything seemed to be back to normal as the veterans watch the soccer game with healthy audience, but the cruelty of the war never fades away as the damage had already been done.

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5 thoughts on “Kuper Reflection (ZL)

  1. Your statements regarding the unsettling pictures of spectators during a war are fascinating. War is a terrible environment. The persecution of Jews in German-occupied states was one of the most horrific aspects of the Second World War. Considering this, as well as a multitude of other factors at the time, it is completely understandable if happiness would be in short supply during those trying times. Soccer matches may lose their livelihood. It was anticipated that sports would simply be a solemn reminder to spectators of the world that used to be.

    However, like Kuper emphasizes throughout the course of the readings, perhaps the reminders of the world that used to be aren’t entirely terrible. Those spectators in the photo above have clearly seen war, death, and pain. Yet they still seem to enjoy partaking in watching soccer, as if the sport serves as a place where the spectators can forget about their horrible world for 90 minutes.

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  2. Well, I’m just going to defer to everything Margaret and Zach said here–really nice parallel you draw from the visual evidence here, about “front lines” and the pain of war these injured veterans in their (very cool looking) wheelchairs invoke, in contrast to their cheerfulness in watching the game. Questions about the purpose of the photo remain, but you’ve also found meanings in it that I think can be seen once we know to look, whether the photographer meant them or not.

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  3. Your parallel of these men on the front lines of WW1 and now on the front lines of a soccer match amidst another World War is poignant. In relation to Kuper’s investigation into the reactions to the Netherlands to the treatment of Jewish people, it is interesting how they managed to remain so “normal” in their lives even with the stark reminder of the cost of war right in front of them.

    Do you think this image could also parallel the response to WW2 that Kuper found in his research? Much like these soldiers acting as nothing had changed in their lives because of the everpresent soccer match, many people erased the traumas of WW2 in these soccer clubs. I am not sure I agree with Zach about the propagandistic nature of this image and would be curious to know more about its provenance, because it could be propaganda or a reflection of the true spirit of joy that they felt watching soccer that helped them cope with the years post-war. As Kuper mentioned, clubs like Sparta and Ajax are key identities for the Dutch, that maybe this image shows how deep those ties run.

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  4. zhaoliuu,

    You have made a great point about the horrors of war and the propensity for those that are less affected to ignore or be unsympathetic to those who are deeply affected. These disabled WWI veterans, in the front row of a soccer game during WWII, are certainly a “front-row” reminder of the horrors of war.

    Additionally, while a “picture can tell a thousand words,” it is important to note the power a photographer has. This picture certainly does not capture the daily life of these veterans. During WWII, there would also be pressure to make situations seem better than they are (propaganda). These veterans are smiling and cheering; when they return home they are likely dealing with lives of pain and struggle.

    -Zach

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  5. zhaoliuu,

    You have made a great point about the horrors of war and the propensity for those that are less affected to ignore or be unsympathetic to those who are deeply affected. These disabled WWI veterans, in the front row of a soccer game during WWII, are certainly a “front-row” reminder of the horrors of war.

    Additionally, while a “picture can tell a thousand words,” it is important to note the power a photographer has. This picture certainly does not capture the daily life of these veterans. During WWII, there would also be pressure to make situations seem better than they are (propaganda). These veterans are smiling and cheering; when they return home they are likely dealing with lives of pain and struggle.

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