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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

General Government Chess Championships

Karl Gilg
     The General Government chess championships (Schachmeisterschaft des Generalgouvernements) were a series of five Nazi tournaments held during World War II that took place in occupied central Poland. 
     Hans Frank (May 23, 1900 – October 16, 1946), the Governor-General of General Government, was the patron of those tournaments because he was an avid chess player. He possessed an extensive library of chess literature but was also a good player and at one time Bogoljubow was a guest at Frank's castle. 
     Frank, who became known as the Butcher of Poland, was a German lawyer who worked for the Nazi Party during the 1920s and 1930s and later became Adolf Hitler's personal lawyer. After the invasion of Poland, Frank became Nazi Germany's chief jurist in the occupied Poland "General Government" territory. During his tenure throughout World War II (1939–45) he instituted a reign of terror against the civilian population and became directly involved in the mass murder of Jews. Frank publicly boasted that there were not enough trees in the General Government to cut down to make the paper required to list all of those people he had had killed in his capacity as Governor General. 
     Frank was captured in southern Bavaria by American troops on May 3, 1945. He attempted suicide twice but failed both times. He voluntarily surrendered many of his personal diaries to the Allies, which were then used against him when he was indicted for war crimes and tried before the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg from November 1945 to October 1946. 
     During the trial he converted to Roman Catholicism and claimed to have had a series of religious experiences. Frank confessed to some of the charges and supposedly expressed remorse on the witness stand. He and Albert Speer were the only defendants to show any remorse at their trials. He was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity and was hung. 
Hans Frank after he was hung

     The General Government tournaments began when Frank organized a chess congress in Krakow in November, 1940. Six months later he announced the establishment of a chess school lead by Efim Bogoljubov and Alexander Alekhine. When Joseph Goebbels heard of Frank's chess activities he was enraged. Goebbels wrote, “Frank is pursuing a policy which is anything but that sanctioned by the Reich. I have been shown letters in which he orders the setting up of a chess seminar in Krakow under Polish management. That is evidently now very important when it comes to providing the necessary basic foodstuffs for the Reich and to putting together the organization that this requires. Frank sometimes gives the impression of being half mad. Some of the incidents that have been reported to me concerning his work are simply dreadful.” 
     The main participants in these events were: Alexander Alekhine, Efim Bogoljubow, Paul F. Schmidt, Klaus Junge, Karl Gilg, Josef Lokvenc, Hans Mueller, Wolfgang Weil, Paul Mross, Teodor Regedzinski, Leon Tuhan-Baranowski and Fedir Bohatyrchuk. Other minor German masters participated on occasion. 
     The first General Government Championship was held in Krakow/Krynica/Warsaw in November,1940 and resulted in a tie between Bogoljubow and Anton Kohler ahead of Kurt Richter. The second event was held in Krakow and Warsaw in October, 1941 and ended in a tie between Alekhine and Schmidt with Bogoljubow third. 
     The third Championship was held in Warsaw/Lublin/Krakow in October, 1942. Alekhine finished ahead of Junge and Bogoljubow. The fourth was held in Krynica in November–December, 1943. Josef Lokvenc finished ahead of Wilhelm Kuppe and Bogoljubow who shared second and third. The fifth, and weakest, Championship was held in Radom in February 1944 and Bogolojubow won it ahead of Bohatyrchuk and a player named Hans Roepstorff. 
     Krakow (also Cracow or Krakow) is the second largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland. Situated on the Vistula River, the city dates back to the 7th century. The city has traditionally been one of the leading centers of Polish academic, cultural, and artistic life and is one of Poland's most important economic hubs. 
     After the invasion of Poland at the start of World War II, Krakow became the capital of Germany's General Government. The Jewish population of the city was forced into a walled zone known as the Krakow Ghetto, from which they were sent to German extermination camps such as nearby Auschwitz and concentration camps like Płaszow. 
      In the first event the unheralded Anton Kohler (circa 1907 – September 7, 1961), a German master from Munich, tied Bogoljubow for first place. Their individual game was drawn and both players lost one game to also-rans. Kohler to last place Max Eisinger and Bogojubow to Paul Mross 
     In 1937 Kohler shared 3rd in Stadtprozelten and took 12th in the German Championship. In 1938 he came first in Heilbronn and tied for 8–9th in the German Championship. In 1938/39 he tied for 1st–3rd in Karlsruhe. And, in 1939, he tied for 4–5th in the German Championship as well as sharing first in the first General Government tournament in 1940 in which the below game was played. 
     He did not play much after World War II, but in 1952 he won the Bavarian Championship and finished 27th in the 1953 German Championship. 
     Karl Gilg (January 20, 1901 - December 4, 1981) was a German master. Gilg belonged to the German minority in the newly-formed Czechoslovakia after the end of the First World War.  He learned chess as a 4-year-old and took an active part in Czechoslovakian chess, representing them in the Olympiads in 1927, 1928 and 1931. 
     Gilg participated in numerous international tournaments with modest success. In Semmering in 1926 though he finished poorly he defeated Alekhine in their game.   After Czechoslovakia had been occupied by the Germans, Gilg began taking part in the German championships. 
     Gilg served in the military during World War Two and after the war he lived in West Germany where he was a teacher and continued to play in German tournaments. He won the city championship 25 times and the Bavarian championship four times. He was awarded the IM title in 1953. 

1) Anton Kohler and Efim Bogoljubow 7.5 
3) Kurt Richter 7.0 
4) Josef Lokvenc 6.0 
5) Paul Mross, Hans Mueller, Max Blumich and Carl Ahues 5.5 
9) Karl Gilg 4.5 
10-11) Georg Kieninger and Ludwig Rellstab 4.0 
12) Max Eisinger 3.5 

Kohler's win in the following game is most interesting. 

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