Gottfried Fuchs

Football Player

born May 3, 1889 in Karlsruhe – died February 25, 1972 in Montreal (Canada)

  • Six appearances with national team 1911–1913
  • German Football Champion with Karlsruher FV 1910

To this day he still holds the record: at the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm, the German national team won 16:0 against the Russians, and Gottfried Fuchs scored a total of ten (10!) goals. He is the first player of Jewish origin to play on the German national football team.

Born in Karlsruhe, Gottfried Fuchs began his football career with Düsseldorfer FC 1899, the parent club of today’s Düsseldorfer SC. It was with the Düsseldorf team, which had several English players on the roster, that Fuchs won the western German championship in 1907. After returning to Karlsruhe he joined the Karlsruher FV. Along with Fritz Förderer and Julius Hirsch, they made up the famous offensive trio. In 1910 at the age of 21, him and his team won not only the Southern German, but also the German championship 1:0 against Holstein Kiel. It was a successful time: he frequently captured the southern German championship with his team. After initially being selected for the representative southern German team in 1910, he led the team to win the Crown Prince Cup in 1912.

On March 23, 1911, Gottfried Fuchs was selected to join the German national team. His debut game ended in a 6:2 victory against Switzerland, in which he scored two goals. The high point of his career was his participation in the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm. It was there, that he encountered the Russian team and scored his legendary record goals. On November 23, 1913, he played his final game for the German national team in Antwerp against Belgium. Altogether, he appeared in a total of six international matches, scoring a total of fourteen goals – making him (statistically) the most successful German national football player of all time.

During World War I, Fuchs served as an artillery officer and suffered several wounds. After the war, and despite his injuries, he laced up his football cleats once again for KFV, and retired in 1920.

In 1928, Gottfried Fuchs and his family left Karlsruhe for Berlin. He worked professionally in timber trade, for which he frequently traveled abroad. In Berlin, he was a member of the local tennis club Nikolassee e. V., which barred his membership in 1935. In October of the same year, the club implemented the so-called Aryan paragraph. In 1937, his family decided to leave Nazi Germany; they found refuge in France. Gottfried Fuchs’ forefathers originated from Alsace, but were required to become German citizens following the Franco-Prussian War in 1870/71. Thus, in France in 1939, he was labeled an “enemy foreigner” and detained. As German troops marched into Belgium, Fuchs and his family managed to escape to Great Britain and eventually Canada, where he took on the name, Godfrey E. Fochs.

Sepp Herberger once called Gottfried Fuchs the “Franz Beckenbauer” of his youth. In his memoir the former national coach wrote that for decades he could still retrace the technical feat and combinations of the famous Karlsruher trio, Förderer, Fuchs and Hirsch.

Beginning in 1955, Sepp Herberger and Gottfried Fuchs maintained a friendship via written correspondence. On May 26, 1972 – when the new Munich stadium hosted an international match between Germany and the Soviet Union – Herberger proposed that the DFB invite Gottfried Fuchs, underwritten by the association, to appear as an honored guest at the game. Herberger stated that such an attempt “would help reconcile for the complicit injustice [which took place] and would cause a positive echo not just within the sports world, but throughout all of Germany.” The response of the DFB executive committee was sobering: they were of the opinion that “setting such a precedent would only ensure further considerable strains in the future.” The message from Herberger written in March 22, 1972, in which he tells with great disappointment the negative decision of the executive committee, did not reach Gottfried Fuchs. He had passed away the previous month.

His 1912 world record for goals scored, outlived the former exceptional striker by more than three decades. The record was broken in 2001 by Australian Archie Thompson in a 31:0 match against American Samoa, in which he scored a total of 13 goals. The football world and the public began to remember Gottfried Fuchs again at the turn of the twentieth century. In 2012, at the awarding of the DFB sponsored Julius Hirsch Prize for “all, and in particular Jewish, victims of the Nazi regime”, Eric Fochs, Julian Heller and Andreas Hirsch – three grandchildren of the two Jewish national players – stood together on the stage of the Berlin “Bärensaal“. In 2013, the Karlsruhe city council honored his memory by dedicating the “Gottfried-Fuchs-Square” in his name – which is located directly by the former KFV stadium „Stadion an der Telegraphenkaserne“.

Lorenz Peiffer

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Video Gottfried Fuchs / Julius Hirsch, 3:18 min (© BFI National Archive)

References