Helmut Schön could feel it in the summer air. All of Germany could. As the 28-year-old soccer star donned the red shirt and black shorts of the Dresden Sporting Club he had played for since he was 17 years old, pincers continued to close around his country.
Germany was on the defensive in the second Great War. The final defeat inched nearer. Two weeks earlier, the 156,000 Allied troops on nearly 5,000 amphibious vehicles had landed in Normandy, France and began fighting their way east through occupied Europe. While Schön laced up his leather boots in the bowels of Berlin's Olympic Stadium on the afternoon of Sunday June 18, 1944, thousands of predominantly American, British, and Canadian men forced German warriors from strongholds across France.