Under new Nationaltrainer Sepp Herberger – who had replaced Professor Dr. Otto Nerz in 1936 – Germany were placed in a four-team qualifying group for the 1938 tournament, with each team playing each other once. With two qualification spots available, Herberger’s side emerged from the group in impressive fashion, winning all three games against Sweden, Finland and Estonia having scored eleven goals and conceding just the one.
The side that qualified for the 1938 World Cup was seen as one of the finest of its generation, but by the time tournament began the Nazi regime had turned what was slowly developing into a fine football team into their own political football – to the point where the eleven men that lined up in France in 1938 was a shadow of the team that had been dubbed Die Breslauer Elf. The man who had scored five goals during that famous match in Breslau, Otto Siffling, didn’t even make an appearance in France; despite scoring two goals in two games in the qualifiers and finding the net in the pre-tournament friendly against Portugal, he never played for his country again.
Tragically, having contracted pleurisy – the inflammation of the lining of the cavity surrounding the lungs – Otto Siffling died on 20th October 1939. He was only twenty-seven years old.
Match Results and Details
v Finland, Pallokenttä, Helsinki, 29.06.1937
Lehner 26., Urban 38. / –
Team: Jakob – Janes, Münzenberg – Kupfer, Goldbrunner, Kitzinger – Lehner, Gellesch, Siffling, Szepan (c), Urban
v Estonia, Horst Wessel-Stadion, Königsberg, 29.08.1937
Lehner 50., 65., Gauchel 53., 86. / Siimenson 34.
Team: Jakob – Janes, Münzenberg – Rose, Goldbrunner, Schädler – Lehner, Gauchel, Berndt, Szepan (c), Simetsreiter
v Sweden, Altonaer Stadion, Hamburg, 21.11.1937
Siffling 2., 57., Szepan 8., Schön 48., 63. / –
Team: Jakob – Janes, Münzenberg – Kupfer, Goldbrunner, Gellesch – Lehner, Schön, Siffling, Szepan (c), Urban
Final Group Standings
Other results: Sweden 4-0 Finland; Sweden 7-2 Estonia; Finland 0-1 Estonia.
Goals Summary: Lehner (3), Gauchel, Schön, Siffling (2), Szepan, Urban (1). Total 11.