Ice hockey is one of the more popular sports in Germany, however it still ranks far behind football in spectator favour and meaning. Ice hockey is organized today in Germany by the Deutsche Eishockey Liga, the highest professional league, and by the Deutschen Eishockey-Bund ice hockey federation, which is the sport's federation in Germany and a member of the International Ice Hockey Federation.
The Men's German national ice hockey team stands eighth in the world on the current IIHF rank list. Since they were eighth before the 2004 World Cup of Hockey, they automatically qualified for the Olympic Ice Hockey tournament.
Games similar to ice hockey were popular in winter time not only in the Alps but also at lakes and rivers all over Germany since centuries. The traditional food Eisbein is called after a bone which is used for making ice skates. In Frankfurt opened during a patent exhibition in 1881 the third artificial ice skating rink in the world (after London and New York) with a size of 520 m²; only 10 years later also opened the first permanent artificial ice rink in Frankfurt.
1901 saw the first German club create its own ice hockey department, the Berliner Schlittschuhclub. As a consequence, further ice hockey associations or departments developed first in Berlin and then in other large German cities. In 1908 ice hockey was taken up as section of the Deutscher Eissport-Verband. On September 19, 1909, Germany became the sixth member nation of the predecessor organization of the IIHF, the "Ligue International de Hockey sur Glace" (LIHG).
By 1910, when Germany participated in the first Ice Hockey European Championships, a city league with ten teams was already playing in Berlin. Besides the Berliner Schlittschuhclub of the BFC Preussen, the teams were the Sportclub Berlin, the Berliner Eislaufverein 1904, the BFC Britania, the Berliner EV 1886, the Hockey Club Berlin, the Sportklub Komet, the SC Charlottenburg, and the Eislauf Verein Berlin. In 1912, the first German championships were held, which the Berliner Schlittschuhclub would win.
After the First World War, Germany was excluded from the LIHG in 1920 and could thus not in any LIHG tournaments. On January 11, 1926, the Deutsche Eissport-Verband, the body responsible for ice hockey in Germany, was re-admitted to the LIHG, and Germany was once again able to participate in the European Ice-Hockey championships beginning in 1927.
Until 1940, the development of the ice hockey in Germany made great strides. At the 1932 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, Germany attained the bronze medal, and during the European championships (then a qualifier for the Ice Hockey World Cup) won the European title in 1930 and 1934. The 1936 Winter Olympics saw a contentious issue arise when the Nazi party were forced to include a Jewish player, (Rudi Ball), on the team. Ice hockey developed further in this time period with the emergence of new regional organizations across the country.
After World War II, Germany was again excluded from the LIHG in April 1946. At this time a national league for the best teams, the Oberliga (Ice Hockey), developed in the Federal Republic, while the Soviet occupation zone, the later German Democratic Republic, took its own development. (See Also: Ice Hockey in the DDR)
The Federal Republic of Germany was admitted to the LIGH on March 10, 1951, and the GDR joined as an independent member with the Deutschen Eislauf-Verband der DDR on June 9, 1954.
The Oberliga was replaced 1958 by the reintroduced Ice Hockey Bundesliga, before 1963 the Deutsche Eishockey-Bund was created, which remained under the umbrella of the Deutschen Eissport-Verbandes. Internationally the national team of the FRG created the jump into the A-World Championship, where they could be established end of the 1970s and into the 1980s. However, it never ranked among the top four teams in the world.
Coaches, Players and rankings of the German national team. See German National Ice Hockey Team