Dhyan Chand – the player who had stood up to Hitler’s Germany in the dictator’s own country.
Hockey, Hitler, Dhyan Chand, Berlin Olympics (1936)”The Berlin Blitzkrieg”
Dhyan Chand – the player who had stood up to Hitler’s Germany in the dictator’s own country. Legend has it that after seeing him play at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Hitler offered Dhyan Chand (a Major in the British Indian Army), German citizenship and a higher army post. The prolific striker politely turned it down.
A brief run-up of the events
Practice match: India – Germany (1-4)
As long as I live, I shall never forget this match, or get over the shock of this defeat, which still rankles me. Hitler’s Germany had made great strides in their game.
India (7) – USA (0)
India (9) – Japan (0)
Germany (6) – Denmark (0)
Germany (4) – Afghanistan (1)
Germany (3) – Holland (0)
Finals (India VS Germany)
August 15, 1936
Captain Dhyan Chand wanted to play the game under the Indian tri-color flag but had to play under the British Indian flag
The Indian team got into their rhythm in the second half. Dhyan Chand scored in the opening minutes of the half. India then scored a barrage of goals – four in five minutes to seal the fate of the match.
“Dhyan Chand, a supremely unselfish artist who never held on to the ball for even a second more than necessary, was seen in a rare selfish mode. He shouted to us – direct all passes to me, I will take care from there on.”
As the ground was still slippery due to the rain, Dhyan Chand discarded his spiked shoes and stockings and played with his bare feet and rubber soles. It was the incredible stickwork of Dhyan Chand that had the crowd gasping. The way he moved with the ball, as if it was stuck to his hockey stick, puzzled all those who were present.
The German players started to play aggressively and go for rough tackles on Dhyan Chand. The German goalkeeper even broke one of Dhyan Chand’s teeth in a clash.
Frustrating the Germans – Dhyan Chand instructed his team not to score any more goals. “We must teach them a lesson in ball control,” he told his team.
The Indian team would take the ball to the German ‘D’, then back pass among themselves, then take it again to the goalmouth but not score. This strategy baffled the Germans. Dara and Dhyan Chand rounded off the tally in the last few minutes of the game to make the final score India 8 – Germany 1.
Despite the victory, Dhyan Chand was a little sad. He wanted to play for an Independent India and see the Indian national flag being hoisted and Indian national anthem being played as they were crowned champions. Seems the Gods granted his wish and exactly 11 years after the Berlin Final, India got Independent on 15th August, 1947.
P.S. Such was the fear of Dhyan Chand and Indian team that the British Team withdrew from the tournament fearing a defeat from a “slave and colonized” country