Kiev - Start Stadium

Before the Second World War, Dynamo Kiev was a world-class football team and consisted of what you could say a number of Soviet national team players. When the Germans occupied Kiev (and Ukraine), serial games were banned and the team ceased. From the German side it was nevertheless interested that Kiev’s population would return to a form of normality. Something that was close to Kiev residents was football and therefore allowed the German side to new teams formed and began to play sporadic matches. A team formed with the good conscience of the Germans was FC Start which consisted of several former teams. Dynamo Kiev player but also player from Lokomotiv Kiev.

In June and July 1942, Start played seven games against teams from Ukraine, Hungary and Germany, winning by far. The team and the matches became popular and the Germans decided to start their own professional team to challenge Start. The German team came to be called Flakelf and consisted of former football players, albeit at a lower level than FC Starts players. The first match between FC Start and Flakelf was played at Zenit stadium on August 6, 1942 and was completed by FC Start with 5 – 1. The Germans ”required” revenge and three days later the rematch was played as it came to be called. The match was played in front of 2000 people at Zenit stadium and also this match was won by FC Start, albeit not as superior, but still with 5 – 3.

The match has been surrounded by several persistent myths. Among other things, the Germans before the match threatened the players with reprisals if they did not lose. Another myth is that the Start players at half time would not succumb to the Germans’ threats and play the second half to win. A third myth is that the players immediately after the game were arrested by the Germans. Another myth is a rumor that some players were shot in retaliation for the loss. Although there is reason to believe that the match was not played on equal terms, none of the myths have proved to be true. Start played one more match against a Ukrainian team in mid-August which they won with 8 – 0. A little later in August, eight players were arrested from Start, but not because of the match against Flakelf but probably because they were suspected of being Soviet agents. In February 1943 three players were executed, but not because of the match.

Current status: Preserved with monument (2019).

Location: 50°27'21.05"N 30°28'51.69"E

Get there: Metro to Lukianivska Station.

My comment:

The arena was renamed after the war to the Start Stadium and is in 2019 actually left. If not as before and certainly not in any good condition. Both the plan and the grandstand may not be in disrepair but close by, but at the same time this gives a special feeling. The arena serves more as a recreation area for exercisers, families with children or just for those who want to get away from the big city stress. It is sandwiched between residential buildings and one can really wonder why it may remain because it is probably a long time since there was any official match on the pitch. But it may be a cultural heritage that must not be destroyed and that the arena seems to work just fine as a recreational area worth preserving. We must hope that it will remain and not fall victim to commercial forces who want to build a fluffy residential building or, worse, a shopping centre. Just inside the entrance there is a memorial dedicated to Start and at Dynamo stadium (Dynamo Kiev’s home arena) there is another memorial.

Follow up in books: Dougan, Andy: Dynamo: Triumph and Tragedy in Nazi-Occupied Kiev (2002).