The East Germany national football team was from 1952 to 1990 the football team of the German Democratic Republic, playing as one of three post-war German teams, along with the team of the Saarland and the German national football team based in the Federal Republic of Germany (called West Germany then).
After German reunification in late 1990, the Deutscher Fußball Verband der DDR (DFV), and with it the East German team, joined the Deutscher Fußball Bund (DFB) and the German national football team that had just won the World Cup.
The first international game, not competitive but rather a display of good will, took place on 21 September 1952 against Poland in Warsaw, losing 3-0 in front of a crowd of 35,000. The first home game was on 14 June 1953 against Bulgaria, a 0-0 in front of a crowd of 55,000 at Heinz-Steyer-Stadion in Dresden. Only three days later, the Uprising of 1953 in East Germany prevented the permitted assembly of that many Germans. On 8 May 1954 games resumed, with a 1-0 loss against Romania. The East Germans had not even considered to enter the World Cup which was won by the West Germans two months later. This caused much euphoria not only in the West, and the GDR tried to counter this by abandoning their policy of presenting a group of socialist role models of their "new German state"; instead, players were selected purely according to ability. The GDR entered the qualification for the WC 1958 and were hosts to Wales on 19 May 1957 in Zentralstadion Leipzig. 500,000 tickets were requested, officially 100,000 were admitted, but 120,000 in the crowded house witnessed a 2-1 victory.
East Germany was not as successful as its Western counterpart in World Cups or European Championships. It never qualified for the finals of the European Championship and only qualified for one World Cup, in 1974. However, they were always serious contenders in qualifying throughout their history.
That tournament was staged in West Germany, and both German teams were drawn in the same group in the first round. With successful games against Chile and Australia, both German teams had qualified early for the second round, with the inter-German game determining first and second in group. Despite this lack of pressure to succeed, the match on 22 June 1974 in Hamburg was politically and emotionally charged. East Germany beat West Germany 1-0, thanks to a goal by Jürgen Sparwasser. This was rather a Pyhrric victory, as the DFV wound up in the possibly stronger second round Group A. The GDR lost to Brazil and the Netherlands, but secured 3rd place in a final game draw with Argentina. On the other hand, the DFB team changed its line-up after the loss, and went on to win all games in the other second round group B, against Yugoslavia, Sweden, Poland, and the World title against the Netherlands.
East Germany did however achieve significantly greater success in Olympic football than the amateur teams fielded by the Western NOC of Germany. Before 1968, both states had sent a United Team of Germany. For 1964, the East German side had beaten their Western counterparts in order to be selected. They went on to win Bronze for Germany. As GDR, they won Bronze in 1972 in Munich, Gold in 1976, and Silver medal in 1980 in Moscow, In absence of boycotting Western nations. In the 1980s, football declined in the GDR, as did other parts of public life.
Millions of East Germans had moved to the West before the Berlin Wall was erected in 1961, and some escaped in a successful Republikflucht attempts also afterwards. All East Germans were automatically entitled to receive a West German passport, but players who had caps for the DFV, like Norbert Nachtweih and Jürgen Pahl who flew in October 1976 at a U21-match in Turkey, were ineligible for international competition for the DFB due to FIFA rules. Lutz Eigendorf had escaped to the West in 1979 and died in 1983 in a mysterious car crash in which East German Stasi agents were involved.
Shortly after the reunification, players who had played for the East German team were allowed by FIFA to be eligible for the now un-rivalled German team of the DFB. See players with caps for both East Germany and unified Germany, like Matthias Sammer and Ulf Kirsten. Today, a number of players from the former GDR plays for the unified German national team, including Michael Ballack, Tim Borowski and Bernd Schneider.
|#||Player||East Germany career||Caps|
|1||Joachim Streich||1969-1984||102 (98)|
|2||Hans-Jürgen Dörner||1969-1985||100 (96)|
|3||Jürgen Croy||1967-1981||94 (86)|
|4||Konrad Weise||1970-1981||86 (78)|
|5||Eberhard Vogel||1962-1976||74 (69)|
|6||Bernd Bransch||1967-1976||72 (64)|
|7||Peter Ducke||1960-1975||68 (63)|
|8||Martin Hoffmann||1973-1981||66 (62)|
|=||Lothar Kurbjuweit||1970-1981||66 (59)|
|10||Ronald Kreer||1982-1989||65 (65)|
|11||Gerd Kische||1971-1980||63 (59)|
|12||Matthias Liebers||1980-1988||59 (59)|
|13||Reinhard Häfner||1971-1984||58 (54)|
|14||Jürgen Pommerenke||1972-1983||57 (53)|
|15||Rainer Ernst||1981-1990||56 (56)|
|=||Henning Frenzel||1961-1974||56 (54)|
|17||Jürgen Sparwasser||1969-1977||53 (48)|
|18||Andreas Thom||1984-1990||51 (51)|
|19||Hans-Jürgen Kreische||1968-1975||50 (46)|
|20||Ulf Kirsten||1985-1990||49 (49)|
|21||Dieter Erler||1959-1968||47 (45)|
|=||Jörg Stübner||1984-1990||47 (47)|
|23||René Müller||1984-1989||46 (46)|
|=||Dirk Stahmann||1982-1989||46 (46)|
|25||Rüdiger Schnuphase||1973-1983||45 (45)|
|1||Joachim Streich||55 (53)|
|2||Hans-Jürgen Kreische||25 (22)|
|=||Eberhard Vogel||25 (24)|
|4||Rainer Ernst||20 (20)|
|5||Henning Frenzel||19 (19)|
|6||Martin Hoffmann||16 (15)|
|=||Jürgen Nöldner||16 (16)|
|=||Andreas Thom||16 (16)|
|9||Peter Ducke||15 (15)|
|=||Jürgen Sparwasser||15 (14)|
|11||Ulf Kirsten||14 (14)|
|12||Günter Schröter||13 (13)|
|13||Wolfram Löwe||12 (12)|
|=||Dieter Erler||12 (12)|
|15||Willy Tröger||11 (11)|
|Player||East Germany||Unified Germany||Overall|
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