Fencer Matthias Behr takes in relatives of the opponent he stabbed

Fencer Matthias Behr takes in relatives of the opponent he stabbed

Foil fencer Matthias Behr fatally injured his Soviet opponent in an accident in 1982. Now he is offering refuge to the widow’s relatives fleeing the Ukraine war.

July 19, 1982 haunted Matthias Behr throughout his life. On this day, the West German world-class fencer was on the planche at the World Championships in Rome. In the quarter-finals he competed with the foil against the reigning world champion Vladimir Smirnov from the Soviet Union. Then the misfortune: Behr’s blade broke off, pierced through his opponent’s mask into his eye and into his brain. Smirnov died of his injuries in hospital eight days after the battle. He was 28 years old.

The fact that he had accidentally killed his competitor weighed heavily on the 67-year-old Behr for a long time. Now he and his wife Zita Funkenhauser, who used to be a highly successful foil fencer, have taken in relatives of Smirnov’s widow Emma, ​​who fled the war from Ukraine, according to “Bunte”. The grandchildren and the single widower of Emma Smirnowa’s daughter live with the family in Tauberbischofsheim.

Matthias Behr is “reconciled” with his fate

This helps Matthias Behr to continue to process the traumatic event in Rome: “I’m finally reconciled with my fate, I’ve come full circle,” he told the “Bunte”. Zita Funkenhauser says the accident is her husband’s “life theme”: “The fact that Matthias later fell ill with severe depression was certainly one of the reasons.” Behr and Funkenhauser are both Olympic champions in foil fencing: the 67-year-old won gold with the team in Montreal in 1976, and his wife won gold at the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Games.

First meeting with widow 2017 in Ukraine

Behr made his peace with Vladimir Smirnov’s family a few years ago. He had tried unsuccessfully to make contact for a long time, but received no response. Eventually, the news came from Emma Smirnowa: she was ready for a visit.

The first meeting took place in Ukraine in 2017, and both of them visited Smirnov’s grave in Kyiv together. Behr also found out on this occasion that his letters were not even forwarded during the Soviet era and that they only reached his widow ten years late. In the same year, Smirnowa and Behr made their first public appearance together on the ZDF talk show “Markus Lanz”.

Sources: /

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Source: Stern

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