Reconstructing the tragic soccer game between forced Ukrainian labourers and the German Air Force. This is a story about courage and power, about red jerseys and the fatal consequences of a 5-3 victory.

Reconstructing the tragic game between the forced labourers of Ukrainian team ‘FC Start’ and the team of the German Air Force ‘Flakelf’, ‘The Fatal Eleven’ tells the story about soccer and Nazism, about courage and power, about red jerseys and the fatal consequences of a 5-3 victory.

It was much more than just a soccer match, when on the 9th of August 1942 the ‘FC Start’, the Ukrainian workers of the ‘3rd bakery unit’, entered the pitch of the Zenit stadium in Kiev to play against ‘Flakelf’, the team of the German Air Force, everybody in the Zenit Stadium knew what they were playing for. The spectator stands were packed with people.

A year before, on the 19th of September 1941 the German Wehrmacht marched into Kiev. Within two days Nazi regime murdered nearly 34.000 Jews. 630.000 Soviet soldiers became prisoners of war. The deportation of Jews and Ukrainian forced labourers to Germany was running at full steam. The citizens of Kiev were starving. No one could think about playing soccer under such appalling conditions. Yet, no one forgot this sport.


What the Nazis could not know: hidden behind the bakery forced labourer’s team were some of the best soccer players of Dynamo Kiev, the leading Soviet soccer club, and of his local rival club Lokomotive. Both clubs were officially banned from the soccer all league in the Nazi occupied territories. But the “FC Start” was allowed to compete with some garrison and soldier teams. The soccer matches were meant to pretend business as usual in wartime.

Soccer was supposed to cover Nazi disposal with sportive humanity. The ‘FC Start’ club with his Dynamo Kiev champions was determined to play to win. No one on the pitch could imagine what a victory of the suppressed ones would lead to. ‘The Fatal Eleven’ tells the true story of a very special match.

A ColourFIELD Production on behalf of WDR for ARD

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