As early as 1898 regional championships had been played in Southern Germany and Brandenburg. In 1903 it was decided to determine a national champion by holding playoffs among the winners of the various regional championships.
There were up to eight regional leagues and the winners of these leagues progressed into a play off tournament to decide the national champions.
1903 VfB Leipzig
Interestingly Leipzig's second goal in their 7-2 win over DFC Prag is recorded as being scored directly from a corner kick by Friedrich. As such, the goal should not have stood under the rules at the time.
Eight regional winners had formed a quarter final round and VfB Leipzig and Britannia Berlin had reached the final when Karlsruher FV (who had lost 6-1 to Britannia Berlin in the quarter finals) lodged a complaint with the DFB that the tournament rule regarding playing matches at neutral venues had been ignored. Karlsruher argued that they could not field a full strength team in their match with Britannia as it had been played in Berlin. The DFB cancelled the tournament as a result of this protest.
1905 Union 92 Berlin
Holders (from 1903) VfB Leipzig qualified automatically. They joined 11 other regional winners in the tournament. Preliminary rounds were held in order to get to a last 8 (the preliminary rounds were contested by weaker teams). Interestingly VfB Leipzig withdrew from the competition, citing financial difficulties (as had Schlesien Breslau in the second preliminary round).
Union 92 Berlin beat Karlsruher FV 2-0 in the final at Cologne. The attendance was 3,500.
1906 VfB Leipzig
Seven champions of regional football associations joined holders Union 92 Berlin. The final was played in Nuremburg and VfB Leipzig beat 1. FC Pforzheim 2-1 to claim their second title. The attendance was 1,100.
1907 Freiburger FC
Six teams were entered, and the competition took the form of two preliminary matches leading to a semi final round. A crowd of 3,000 were at Mannheim to see Freiburger FC beat BTuFC Viktoria 89 3-1.
1908 BTuFC Viktoria 89
Back to eight teams and a straight knock out- attendances were creeping up- 4,000 were at Germania-Platz Tempelhof (Berlin) to watch a final in which Viktoria led against Stuttgarter Kickers from the 6th minute. They doubled their lead in the 84th minute and and Kickers pulled one back before Viktoria added a third in the last minute to win 3-1.
1909 Phönix Karlsruhe
Eight entrants- a high scoring final was on the cards as Phönix Karlsruhe had scored 14 goals in their two rounds. Opponents Viktoria 89 had topped that, with 19 goals in two matches!
The final at Breslau produced 6 goals- Phönix winning 4-2.
1910 Karlsruher FV
Nine entrants. Karlsruher FV beat local rivals Phönix Karlsruhe 2-1 in the semi finals before beating Holstein Kiel 1-0 after extra time in the final at Cologne, Max Breunig getting the winner from the penalty spot. Englishman Billy Townley was the manager/ coach.
1911 BTuFC Viktoria 89
Viktoria won their second national championship beating VfB Leipzig 3-1 in Dresden, watched by a crowd of 12.000.
1912 Holstein Kiel
Eight entrants. The final in Hamburg saw Northern German Champions Holstein Kiel beat Karlsruher FV 1-0 in a repeat of the 1910 final. Holstein's winner came from a penalty, as did Karlsruher's in the 1910 final.
1913 VfB Leipzig
Six entrants. VfB Leipzig 3-1 Duisburger SpV. The final was played at Sendling in Munich and the attendance was 5,000.
1914 SpVgg Fürth
Eight entrants. The final between Fürth (coached by Billy Townley) and VfB Leipzig, held in Magdeburg was a real marathon. With scores level at 90 and 120 minutes a 'golden goal' type scenario was needed to settle the match Fürth eventually getting the winner in the 153rd minute.