Soccer Lessons From A Hungarian Holocaust Survivor


I was blessed to interview Gyorgy Sauer who was a soccer prodigy way back in the 1930’s, and he told methat many of the younger generation of athletes face the same problems he faced way back in the day in some level or another.

Acceptance (Everyone wanted to play on their special team)

Parental Pressures (Even back in his time parents would be obnoxious)

School Pressures (Studies had to be done or we got beatings from the teacher)

Monetary (They received gifts for winning, and many of his teammates were poor)

Jealousy (As a younger better player, someone rode the bench due to his talent)

Segregation (He would not have played if they knew He was Jewish)

Performance Anxiety (Just known as nerves in his time)

Many of the great players who represented Hungary in the 1950’s were no more than whipping boys for his local youth team when he played against them in County competition.

Gyorgy most definitely wanted to represent his country one day in a major tournament like the Olympics or World Cup, but that dream of national stardom was denied by his unsolicited visit in Auschwitz, and later Dachau Allach.

The championship had evaded the county for close to 10 years, and he was playing on a team of 14 year olds, outside of my city’s region, against his father’s wishes. His father was adamant about studies and violin lessons, and in addition the team didn’t allow Jews to play.

At the County Soccer Semi-Finals, they won 3-1 to come ever closer to realizing the dream, when no more than 20 minutes after the completion of the game, he was being chased down the road by his teammates

He found out later that there was a younger brother of one of his teammates that went to his school, and recognized him thus informing everyone about his religion.

Gyorgy told me he was so grateful to his friends Hanzi, Doffy, Imre, Sanyi, and Rudi who could have run away and left him to face a beating from his teammates, but instead stood in and fought while outnumbered.

Today people seem way too quick in judgment of others due to race, religion, customs, size, and shape, whatever.

"Point is that you should never forget who you are or where you came from, but more importantly, to not make the mistake so many have made in the past by being afraid to see who others are and what they are really about as well"

He survived at a concentration camp at age sixteen by seeking out the guidance of some of the elders. The lesson that can be applied here, although at a completely different level, is to heed the advice of those that lived it before you. Experience is a great teacher, so seek out a mentor, be it an older more experienced player in your organization, ex-coach, or even a professional athlete who has passed through the doors that you try to pass through now.

He told me “The best advice I can give to a young athlete is to face each challenge with honor, conviction, and passion. Challenges will be presented to you at all angles, but take pride in your preparation, and remember that you won’t win or overcome each encounter, but if you’ve prepared yourself, you have a better shot at it.