Karel Kaers - August 1934 Le Miroir des Sports

Le Miroir des Sports August 1934 main image

Karel Kaers, Belgian, 1914 - 1972

Remember the 20th century? There was always some political controversy dogging the sporting world. If Basil D'Oliveira wasn't being left out of the England cricket tour of South Africa, then Zola Budd was getting a British passport in double-quick time. My mother, god rest her soul, would often try to provoke a reaction out of her recalcitrant children by loudly proposing, at some tedious family gathering, that 'politics should be kept out of sport'. And we would dutifully reply that 'only an idiot' could suggest that such a thing was possible. This, oft-repeated, ritual would sour the mood of the whole event, and everybody would be comfortably miserable. Comfortable misery - it's what families are for.

Perhaps we could have usefully discussed this fine photo of the 1934 World Road Race Championships in Leipzig. That's Karel Kaers, the eventual winner, in the black Belgian strip in the middle of the shot. But that is not what catches your eye - it's hard to get past the armbands on the rather bored Brownshirts and the indiscreet banner in the middle distance. You were certainly not going to have much joy trying to 'keep politics out of sport' in the 1930s.

But I doubt that even Hannah Arendt could imagine uniformed Nazis indulging in many activities that were more banal than marshalling a bike race.

If you still have the stomach for thinking about derailleurs, I believe that Karel Kaers rode fixed at this event, and the photo just about supports that contention.

This is one of two images of Karel Kaers on this site, the other is here.

(Source gallica.bnf.fr/ Bibliothèque nationale de France)

Le Miroir des Sports August 1934 main image
Le Miroir des Sports August 1934 additional image 01