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1930 MAG World Championships

1930: The Death of Anton Malej at the World Championships in Luxembourg

During the first day of the 1930 International Tournament, Anton Malej fell from the rings and later died in the hospital. His injury happened on a rather simple skill: an inverted hang. Here’s how Pierre Hentgès, Sr., recalled the injury:

On the rings, during a simple part — an inverted pike hang — the young Yugoslavian gymnast Anton Malej fell so badly that he had to be taken to the hospital immediately for professional treatment with a cervical vertebrae injury.

Olympische Turnkunst, December 1967.

An den Ringen, in einfachem Übungsteil aus dem Sturzhang, fiel der junge jugoslawische Turner Anton Malej so unglücklich, daß er sofort mit einer Halswirbelverletzung zu fachgerechter Behandlung ins Spital überführt werden mußte.

What follows is a translation of Malej’s obituary from Sokolski Glasnik (July 15, 1930).

To read more about the 1930 World Championships, head over to this post.

Brother Anton Malej, Sokolski Glasnik, July 15, 1930

Death of Brother Anton Malej

Death due to a spine fracture — A great victory in the tragedy of our species

Jože Primožič – “Champion des Champions”

LUXEMBOURG, 15 July, at 7 o’clock, Sokol Tone Malej suffers from injuries sustained in the competition. His death caused great sadness among all his comrades, which was shared by the whole of Luxembourg, the whole of the Luxembourg press and the whole of the Luxembourg public. A. A.

LUXEMBOURG, 15 July. Malej died of a fracture of the spine. Please inform the mother. Transport arranged. – Dr. Murnik.

Is it possible that our dear brother Tone Malej paid for our victory in Luxembourg with his young and beautiful life?

The hard, unrelenting news says so. The truth is so sad, so hard, that it is vainly defended and rejected by our brotherly love, so deeply wounded. It must be accepted in order to enrich the gallery of images – the strings in our souls of those people who were dearest to us in life and who, after our death, remain our precious saints.

Sokols victory, fought under the sacred banner of Yugoslavia, ended with the death of his dear brother Malej, who, with a serene face and a pure heart, walked the path to the wreath of honor and glory of his homeland, until death, with its devastating totality, pressed down on his forehead.

How tragic in this unique case, when the Yugoslav Sokols measured their healthy and strong forces against the nations of the cultural world in international competitions! How much sublime pride at the same time, when we can and must look with tears in our eyes and calmly put our right hand to the pale face of our brother, saying: ‘Behold, he spent his life in the service of the Sokol ideals, which were the essence of his noble soul and have moved with it into eternity.’

Brothers, let us not mourn, let us not separate! Let us remain faithful to the memory of brother Malej with his Sokol work, which grows day by day, so that in this work and in the results of this work his bright cheek may live, just as the serenity of the sky is reflected in the waves of the sea.

Let his high and pure meaning stand before us as a living testimony of Sokol’s enthusiasm and sacrifice – a meaning and a will full of the hard work of love that only death could break.

Brother Tone Malej, you died and remain alive in the souls of all the thousands of brothers and sisters who today keep guard of honour around your early coffin. You are enlightened by the light of the unfading ideals of the Sokol. From our hearts comes their enthusiasm.

E. Gangl.


As soon as our paper went out to print, we received the first shocking news, which spread with alarming speed and filled all the Sokols’ hearts with deep pain and immense sadness. Although the news came from an official stranger, many Sokolists and Sokolettes found it difficult to come to terms with this sad truth. No one could believe the weight of the blow with which our Sokols had been struck, no one could believe the tragic accident that had befallen our proud species at the competitions in Luxembourg.

The Sokol crowd was upset by the fact that the first news at the beginning of the competition reported that two brothers, two of our proudest forces, had to leave the competition due to injury, but they still cherished a living hope, with fear in their hearts, that it would be our team, although severely disabled by the non-participation of the injured brothers Štukelj and Malej, would nevertheless maintain the high reputation which our Sokols enjoy in competitions held by others, and would win the championships which they have won many times before.

Our expectations, the expectations of all our brothers and sisters and the readers of the Yugoslav nation, were not in vain, they have been fully met and much more when we see the circumstances that have accompanied our brothers and competitors in these competitions.

The victory of our Yugoslav Sokols is full and we can be proud of it, it is beautiful and well deserved, it was paid dearly, it was bought by the life of a young Sokol who put it on the field of knightly struggle for the honor of Sokoldom and the pride of our nation.

And at the first encounter with the bitter truth, with a broken heart and a soul full of trembling, we questioned what was before us, becoming as hard, unchanging and immovable as an iceberg. We could not believe that at the very time when the first news of the proud posture of our ranks brought indescribable joy to our hearts, we could not believe that an hour afterwards the victorious wreath of one of our brothers would be the most beautiful wreath for another on his grave. We could not believe that the joy and happiness with which we awaited our loved ones would turn into immense sadness and pain, and that our first fraternal Sokol greeting would be “Hello!” would also be the last: Goodbye brother Malej!

And while our thoughts were like that, in one uncertainty, mute and full of anxiety, one short, lapidary piece of news confirmed to us the rigid reality we were already facing. The news was:

Luxembourg, 15 July. Malej died today of a fractured spine. Please inform the mother. Transport’s arranged. – Dr Murnik.

The heart clenched, the mouth went numb …

Aware of the enormity of this tragedy, before us appear the sacrifices made by Sokoldom for the greatness of its ideals, in whose hot currents shines the sublime Sokol goal: the happiness and greatness of the Yugoslav nation, the happiness and greatness of the whole Slavic nation. .

May this sacrifice made by Yugoslav Sokoldom be dedicated to these most sacred Sokol aspirations, and may it be an example of chivalry, of Sokol self-sacrifice, and create an everlasting memory of brother Malej.

Eternal glory!

From the Life of Brother Malej

Brother Anton Malej was born on 16 January 1907 in Savica, Bohinj, where his mother still lives with her two daughters and two sons. He came to Ljubljana in 1920 as a young man to learn a skilled craft. And then, as a boy of fourteen, he warmed up to Sokoldom and in this enthusiasm enrolled in the Sokol I generation at Tabor, where he continued to practise very hard. His ancestor brother Vidmar was there. From the very beginning of his Sokol work he was distinguished by his kindness and generosity, he understood discipline and order. As a teenager he had a very developed and built body, and even then he showed his excellent qualities for things, which later, with persistent training, came to full expression and distinguished him as a future international competitor of the best quality.

When he became a member at the age of nineteen, he attracted unexpected attention when he came second to Primožič in the 1927 Yugoslav championship competition. This was also one of the strongest motivations for him to devote himself to even more persistent work and to prepare for international competitions, which he participated in Amsterdam in 1928 with great success. He then continued his training with even greater enthusiasm, and after his military service in Petrovaradin, he returned to Ljubljana, where he continued his persistent training. The best qualities of an international competitor saved him. Together with Primožič and Štukelj, he was the pride of his Sokol I association in Tabor.

He was preparing hard for the Slovenian Championship in Belgrade, where he again came second behind Primožič. He was particularly pleased with Luxembourg, he left with a lot of confidence and, even though he was in the youngest group, he had the highest hopes. His exercises, according to the news we received, impressed both the judges and the audience.


The Original Text

Smrt brata Antona Maleja

Smrt usled preloma hrptenice — Sjajna pobeda u tragediji naše vrste

Br. Jože Primožič — „Champion des champions“

LUXEMBURG, 15. jula. Davi u 7 časova pdlegac je ozledama, koje je zadobio pri takmičenju Soko Tone Malej. Njegova smrt uzbudila je kod svih njegovih drugova veliku žalost, koju deli sav Luxemburg, sva luxemburška štampa i sva luxemburška javnost. A. A.

LUXEMBURG, 15. jula. Malej umro usled preloma hrptenice. Obavestite majku. Prevoz osiguran. — Dr. Murnik.

Dali je uopšte moguče, da je naš mili brat Tone Malej platio našu pobedu u Luxemburgu svojim mladim i lepim životom?

Tvrda, nesmiljena vest kaže tako. Istina je tako žalosna, tako teška, da se zaman brani i da ju od sebe odbija naša tako duboko ranjena bratska ljubav. Mora da ju primi, da bi se njom obogatila galerija slika — nanizanih u našo j duši onih lica, koja su nam bila u životu medu najdražima i koja nam po smrti ostaju kao dragocene svetinje naše duševnosti.

Sokolska pobeda, izvojevana pod svetom zastavom Jugoslavije, dokončana je smrču dragog brata Maleja, koji je vedrim licem i čistim srcem stupao putem do venca časti i slave za domovmu, dok se uz jasno njegovo čelo nije prislonula smrt svojim uništujučim celovom.

Koliko tragike u tom jedinstvenom primeru, kad su na medunarodnim takm ičenjim a jugoslovenski Sokoli merili zdrave i krepke svoje snage s narodima kulturnoga sveta! Koliko uzvišenog ponosa ujedno, kad možemo i moramo da sa suzama u očima gledamo i da mirno ispruženom desnicom pokažemo na bledo lice svoga brata, kazujuč: Gledajte, proveo je svoj život u službi sokolskih ideala, koji mu bijahu bit plemenite duše i koji su se skupa s njom preselili u večnost.

Braćo, ne plačimo, ne zdvajajmo! Ostanimo verni spomenu brata Maleja svojim sokolskim radom, koji neka raste iz dana u dan, da bi u tom radu i u plodovima toda rada živeo njegov žarki obraz, kao što se u valovima mora zrcali vedrina neba.

Neka njegov uznositi, čisti značaj stoji pred nama kao živ dokaz sokolskog oduševljenja i sokolske požrt vovnosti —- značaj i volja puna radine ljubavi, koju je mogla da skrši samo smrt.

Brate Tone Malej, umro si i ostao si živ u dušama svih tisuča brače i sestara, koji danas drže počasnu stražu oko Tvog ranog mrtvačkog odra. Obasjava Te luč neugasivih sokolskih ideala. Iz srca naših dolaži njihov žar.

E. Gangl.


U pravo kada je naš list izlazio iz štarnpe, primili smo prvu potresnu vest, koja se nunjevitom brzinom proširila u javnost, napunjajuei sva sokolska srca dubokim bolom i neizmernom žalošču. Iako je vest dolazila sa službene stranc, teško su se mnogi Sokoli i Sokolice mogli da pom ire sa ovom gorkom istinom. N iko nije mogao da veruje u težinu udarca, kojim je pogodeno naše Sokolstvo, niko nije mogao da veruje u tragičan udes, koji je zadesio našu ponosnu vrstu na takmičenjima u Luxemburgu.

Sokolski redovi bili su uzbudeni već samim tim, što su prve vesti, pri začetku takmičenja, javljale da su dva naša brata, dve naše ponosne sile, morale da napuste daljnje takmičenje  usled pozledenja, pa i unatoč toga sa strepnjom u srcu gojili su živu nadu da će naša vrsta, iako teško osakačena nesudelovanjem ozledene braće Štukelja i Maleja, zadržati ipak onaj visoki prestiž, kojega naše Sokolstvo uživa u takmičarskim redovima ostalih na cija i zadobiti prvenstvena mesta, koja su članovi naše sokolske takmičarske vrste osvajali nebrojeno puta.

I u torne naša očekivanja, očekivanja sve naše braće i sestara i čitavc jugoslovenske nacije, nisu bila uzalutb na, ispunila su se u punoj meri i mnogo više, kad se uoče okolnosti, koje su u ovim takmičenjima pratile našu braću takmičare.

Pobeda naših jugoslovenskih Sokola puna je i mi možemo njom e biti ponosni, lepa je i zaslužena, skupo je otkupljena, otkupljena je životom jednog mladog Sokola, koji ga je položio na polju viteške borbe u slavu Sokolstva i na ponos naše nacije.

I još na prvom susretu sa gorkom istinom. stisnutim srcem i dušom punom zebnje dvojili smo o onome, što je pred nama Rtajalo, tvrdo, nepromenljivo i nepom ično poput ledene stene. Nismo mogli verovati, da baš u času. kad su još prve vesti o ponosnom držanju naše vrste, unosile u naša srca jednu neopisivu radost, nismo mogli verovati, da če čas za tim, pobednički venac jednog našeg brata, biti najlepši venac drugome na — njegovom grobu. Nism o verovali, da če radost i veselje, kojim smo očekivali naše drage, pretvoriti sc u jednu neizmernu tugu i bol i da če naša prva bratska sokolska pozdravna reč Zdra« vo! — biti i poslednja reč: Zbogom, brate Maleju!

I dok su ovako Ietile naše misli u jednoj neizvesnosti, nemoj i punoj teskobe, jedna kratka, lapidarna vest potvrdila nam je onu krutu zbilju pred kojom smo se več nalazili. V est je glasila:

Luxemburg, 15. jula. Malej umro danas usled preloma hrptenice. Obavestite majku. Prevoz osiguran. — Dr. Murnik.

Srce se steglo, usta su zanemila…

Svesni veličine ove tragike, pred nama iskrsavaju žrtve, koje je Sokolstvo podnelo za veličinu svojih ideala, u čijim žarkim pramovim a blesti uzvišeni sokolski cilj: sreča i veličina jugoslovenskog naroda, sreča i veličina čitavog slovenskog roda.

Neka i ova žrtva, koju prinosi jugoslovensko Sokolstvo, hude posvečena tim najsvetijim sokolskim težnjama, a uzor viteštva, sokolske požrtvovnosti i rada neka bude večit spomen na brata Maleja.

Slava mu!

Iz života br. Maleja

Brat Anton Malej rodio se je 16. januara 1907, u Savici na Bohinju gde mu i sad živi još mati sa dve kćeri i dva sina. Još kao mladić došao je 1920. g. u Ljubljanu da izući obrt. I tada, kao četrnaestgodišnji dečko, zagrejao se je za Sokolstvo i u tom zanosu upisuje se u naraštaj Sokola I. na Taboru, gde je veoma marljivo nastavio vežbanjem. Tam o mu je bio prednjakom br. Vidmar. Od početka svog sokolskog rada odlikovao se je svojom dobrotom i plemenitošču, shvatao je disciplinu i red. Još kao naraštajac bio je veoma razvijenog i lepo gradenog tela, i već tada pokazivao je svoje odlične vrline za sprave, koje su ustrajnim vežbanjem kasnije došle do punog izražaja i istakle ga kao budućeg medunarodnog takm ičara najboljih kvaliteta.

Pristupivši u dobi od devetnaest godina redovima članstva, svratio jena sebe neočekivanu pozornost, kada je 1927. g. u takmičenju za prvenstvo Jugoslavije zauzeo za Primožičem drugo mesto. To mu je ujedno bio jedan od najjačih podstreka da se je odao još ustrajnijem radu i sprem ao za medunarodna takmičenja, kojima je 1928, g. sa velikim uspehom sudelovao u Amsterdamu. On je nakon toga nastavio vežbanjem još većim elanom Nakon otsluženja vojne dužnosti u Petrovaradinu, povratio se je u Ljubljanu, gde je nastavio istrajnim treniranjem . Rešile su ga najlepše odlike jednog medunarodnog takmičara. Uz bok Primožiču i Štuklju, bio je ponos svojega društva Sokola I. na Taboru.

Oduševljeno se je pripravljao u takmičenju za slovensko prvenstvo u Beogradu, gde je ponovo za Primožičem osvojio drugo mesto. Luxemburg ga je naročito veselio, otišao je sa puno pouzdanja, te iako je bio u vrsti najm ladi, nanj su se polagale najlepše nade. Njegove vežbe, prema vestima koje smo dobili, zadivile su i suce i gledaoce.

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