Reflection 6/13 (MG)

The picture that caught my attention the most was the first picture in the collage, that is of the 1934 Ajax opening ceremony. The literal interpretation of this picture is the team laying on the ground creating the word “AJAX” with their bodies. But I think Kuper is trying to use it to send other messages in regard to his viewpoint of Ajax’s choices during the war. Kuper states, “All we have from Ajax then, is the standard Dutch account of risk-free symbolic humiliations of Germans: the war as a comic book,” in which I believe the author is calling out the Dutch for playing the war off like a book, where only good details are mentioned. By this means, Ajax is trying to exempt themselves from any legitimate criticism in regards to their treatment of players during World War Two. Now, focusing in on the picture from the 1934 opening ceremony, I found imagery which I believe connects Kuper’s viewpoints to a physical accompaniment. When I first saw the picture of all the team members lying on the ground, I thought of the bond which exists between players on the same team. Like many celebrations in sports it meant to represent unity, mainly unity against the opposing team. With the fans rallied behind the team, it is reminiscent to a parade pre/post war. But I believe using a picture that represents a team is meant to critique Ajax, i.e: “How could the club turn its head to Jewish members when they look like such a well bonded team?” As Kuper goes onto discuss in chapter 8, up until 1941 Ajax had more Jewish players than most other dutch clubs. However, Kuper notes that in 1941 the club expelled most, it not all, of its Jewish members. I see the direct implication between this and the picture to be that of irony. They pose together as a team when things are going well, but once World War Two goes into full effect, the club abandons its ideals and more importantly its players. Furthermore, I think there is symbolism in having a picture of a bunch of bodies lying on the ground when referring to the time period of the Holocaust. More broadly it could be imagery to depict the coming sorrows and death the world would experience, or more specially could refer to the Jewish members of the team who will die due to the Holocaust. 

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2 thoughts on “Reflection 6/13 (MG)

  1. Wonderful to read the photograph not only for its original intended purpose but also for Kuper’s use of it in his text. It stands as a kind of epigraph or metaphor for his interpretation. I thought you were also going to go in the direction of unintended meanings–bodies on a field weirdly and unknowingly making a kind of connection to the bodies of the dead during the war, Flanders fields, or the Holocaust itself. This would be a meaning no one could have anticipated. I’m wondering what you think of these kinds of meanings–is that a meaning that is “there”?

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  2. Your visual analysis of this image is fantastic. I agree with you in the almost morbid irony of the foreshadowing of this image to WWII and the abandonment of the team values. It is unsettling to think how many of those men would be gone at the end of the war, rendering it impossible to create the AJAX.

    It is a complicated relationship between the bond of sports and as you say the way they in a way turned their backs on their teammates. Kuper mentions throughout the chapters that for the Dutch, the club you are a part of is more of an identity than being Dutch to an extent. The lightness to which the Dutch took the war during and after has been critiqued by Kuper and others, but also reveals how important soccer and club identity was to the Dutch.

    Do you think that the members being expelled outweighs the members who aided and hid their Jewish friends? It is a hard and nuanced question, but this image I think highlights the contradictions and complexity of the unity of the Dutch club atmosphere.

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