Training Socialist Citizens: Sports and the State in East Germany 9004169571, 9789004169579, 9047443403, 9789047443407

Offering a counterbalance to previous scholarship on elite Olympics sports and doping scandals, this study analyzes how

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Training Socialist Citizens: Sports and the State in East Germany 
 9004169571, 9789004169579, 9047443403, 9789047443407

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Training Socialist Citizens

Studies in Central European Histories Edited by

Thomas A. Brady, Jr., University of California, Berkeley Roger Chickering, Georgetown University Editorial Board

Steven Beller, Washington, D.C. Atina Grossmann, Columbia University Peter Hayes, Northwestern University Susan Karant-Nunn, University of Arizona Mary Lindemann, University of Miami David M. Luebke, University of Oregon H. C. Erik Midelfort, University of Virginia David Sabean, University of California, Los Angeles Jonathan Sperber, University of Missouri Jan de Vries, University of California, Berkeley

VOLUME 44

Training Socialist Citizens Sports and the State in East Germany

By

Molly Wilkinson Johnson

LEIDEN • BOSTON 2008

On the cover: Poster for Deutsches Turn- und Sportfest, Leipzig. Bundesarchiv Plak 103-036-004. This book is printed on acid-free paper. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication-Data Johnson, Molly Wilkinson. Training socialist citizens : sports and the state in East Germany / by Molly Wilkinson Johnson. p. cm. — (Studies in Central European histories, ISSN 1547-1217 ; v. 44) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-90-04-16957-9 (hardback : alk. paper) 1. Sports and state—Germany (East) 2. Sports—Germany (East) 3. Socialism and sports—Germany (East) I. Title. II. Series. GV612.6.J64 2008 796.09431—dc22 2008021219

ISSN 1547-1217 ISBN 978 90 04 16957 9 Copyright 2008 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands. Koninklijke Brill NV incorporates the imprints Brill, Hotei Publishing, IDC Publishers, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers and VSP. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, translated, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission from the publisher. Authorization to photocopy items for internal or personal use is granted by Koninklijke Brill NV provided that the appropriate fees are paid directly to The Copyright Clearance Center, 222 Rosewood Drive, Suite 910, Danvers, MA 01923, USA. Fees are subject to change. printed in the netherlands

To Mom and Dad

CONTENTS Acknowledgements .....................................................................

ix

Abbreviations ..............................................................................

xiii

Introduction ................................................................................

1

Chapter One

Between German Tradition and Soviet Hegemony: The Postwar Reconstruction of Sports .........................................................

31

Training New Socialist Citizens through Sports ..............................................................

65

Voluntary Campaigns and Socialist Society ............................................................

107

The Embodiment of East German Socialism: The Gymnastics and Sports Festivals ............

135

Socialist Spectatorship: The Friedensfahrt and Champion Täve Schur ..................................

165

....................................................................................

203

Chapter Two Chapter Three Chapter Four Chapter Five Epilogue

Bibliography Index

..............................................................................

211

.........................................................................................

227

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS It is a true pleasure to thank the many individuals and institutions that have supported this project every step of the way. I would first like to thank the history departments at Marshall University and Wittenberg University and the German department at Wittenberg University for helping me discover my love of history and for offering excellent early training. This project, which began as a dissertation at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, would have never been possible without the support, encouragement, and constructive criticism of my advisor, Peter Fritzsche. Diane Koenker also deserves special commendation for feedback, support, and patience. I would also like to thank Matti Bunzl, Harry Liebersohn, and Leslie Reagan, who took an interest in the dissertation at various stages of the process. Particularly supportive were fellow graduate students E. J. Carter, Brent Maner, Glenn Penny, Joe Perry, and especially Sace Elder. I was fortunate to receive financial support from many sources to conduct research in Germany. Pre-dissertation fellowships from the Council for European Studies at Columbia University and the Department of History at the University of Illinois enabled me to make initial forays into the archives. Dissertation fellowships from the German Academic Exchange Service, the Social Science Research Council/ Berlin Program for Advanced German and European Studies, and the Department of History at the University of Illinois funded the bulk of the dissertation research and writing. Two Research Mini-Grants from the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) helped me transform the dissertation into a book, allowing me to return to Germany twice, finish archival research, and conduct oral interviews. Linda Vaughan in the Interlibrary Loan Office at UAH also provided invaluable support in the final stages of this project. I am also very thankful to archivists and staff at the Bundesarchiv Berlin, the Stiftung Archiv der Parteien und Massenorganisationen der DDR im Bundesarchiv, the Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv, the Sächsisches Staatsarchiv Leipzig, the Stadtarchiv Leipzig, and the Ratsarchiv Wittenberg for faciliting my research. Two underfunded, understaffed, and yet invaluable archives deserve special thanks: the Sportmuseum Leipzig and its archivists Gerlinde Rohr, Wolfgang Metz, and Ursula

x

acknowledgements

Gundlach, and the Radsportmuseum Course de la Paix in Kleinmühlingen and its creator Horst Schäfer. I would also like to thank all of the individuals who shared their time and memories with me during oral history interviews. While conducting research in Germany, I was fortunate to meet many other scholars, several of whom read and commented on parts of the project at various stages, served as engaging conversational partners, and became friends. Thanks to Eliza Ablovatski, Lauren Appelbaum, Dale Askey, Jennifer Askey, Benita Blessing, Bernhard Debatin, Margarete Myers Feinstein, Erik Jensen, Jon Berndt Olsen, Nina Rathbun, Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen, Eli Rubin, Jana Sachsinger, Ari Sammartino, Carol Scherer, Edith Sheffer, Patricia Stokes, David Tompkins, and Gregory Witkowski. I would also like to thank the many fellow historians, too many to name, with whom I have interacted at conferences and workshops over the years, or by email and telephone in the final stages of this project, and who have generously offered helpful comments and critiques. Thanks also to Roger Chickering for helping guide this book to publication with Brill Academic Publishers, to the anonymous readers who provided helpful criticism and improved the final product, to my editor, Boris van Gool, and to my desk editor, Renate de Vries. I would also like to acknowledge Edward Ingram, editor of the International History Review, for giving me permission to republish excerpts from an article “The Friedensfahrt: International Sports and East German Socialism in the 1950s,” International History Review XXIX, vol. 1 (March 2007): 57–82. I would also like to thank my colleagues in the Department of History and in the College of Liberal Arts at UAH. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have so many wonderful colleagues who have enthusiastically supported me throughout the publication process. Special thanks are due Andrew Dunar, who read the entire manuscript at an early stage; Virginia Martin, who read the almost final version of the manuscript, and Stephen Waring and Lillian Joyce for both academic support and good humor. It would have been difficult to sustain my energy and enthusiasm for this project over the better part of a decade without the support of several dear friends. Both Silvana Saleme Mooney, a friend since childhood, and Pamela Ehresman Pennock, a friend since college and fellow historian, offered steady encouragement and perspective. Several friends in Huntsville also provided laughter and support, including

acknowledgements

xi

Elizabeth Houssain, Lillian Joyce, Andrée Reeves, Sheri Shuck-Hall, Sherri Messimer, April Stewart, and Madeleine Youmans. My family has been my biggest source of support and encouragement, including my sister, Amy Wilkinson Marah, my godparents, Sarah and Bill Denman, and most of all my parents, Tom and Linda Wilkinson. Finally, I would like to thank my husband, David Johnson, whom I met on my first day of graduate school and who has been with this project every step of the way. Nobody is as proud to see this book in print as he is, and I thank him for reading countless drafts, enduring lengthy discussions over many years, and offering abundant support, perspective, and love.

ABBREVIATIONS ATSB

Arbeiter Turn- und Sportbund (Workers’ Gymnastics and Sports Federation) BAB Bundesarchiv Berlin BAV Bereit zur Arbeit und Verteidigung (Prepared to Work and Defend) BSG Betriebssportgemeinschaft (Enterprise Sports Club) CDU Christlich-Demokratische Union (Christian Democratic Union) DS Deutscher Sportausschuss (German Sports Association) DTSB Deutscher Turn- und Sportbund (German Gymnastics and Sports Federation) FDGB Freier Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund (Federation of Free German Trade Unions) FDJ Freie Deutsche Jugend (Free German Youth) GDR German Democratic Republic GST Gesellschaft für Sport und Technik (Society for Sports and Technology) KPD Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands (Communist Party of Germany) LDP Liberal-Demokratische Partei Deutschlands (Liberal Democratic Party of Germany) LPG Landwirtschaftliche Produktionsgenossenschaft (Agricultural Production Cooperative) MTS Machine Tractor Station NSRL Nationalsozialistischer Reichsbund für Leibesübungen (National Socialist League for Physical Education) PDS Partei des Demokratischen Sozialismus (Party of Democratic Socialism) RSM Radsportmuseum Course de la Paix SächsStAL Sächsisches Staatsarchiv Leipzig SAPMO-Barch Stiftung Archiv der Partei und Massenorganisation der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik im Bundesarchiv SBZ Sowjetische Besatzungszone (Soviet Occupzation Zone)

xiv SED

abbreviations

Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands (Socialist Unity Party of Germany) SML Sportmuseum Leipzig SML-Dokumente Sportmuseum Leipzig Documents SML-TSF-A Sportmuseum Leipzig, Turnfest Archiv SPD Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (Social Democratic Party of Germany) Stasi Ministerium für Staatssicherheit (Ministry for State Security) StVuR(1) Stadtarchiv Leipzig, Stadtverordnetenversammlung und Rat der Stadt Leipzig, Teil 1 (1945–1970) SV Sportvereinigungen (Sports Associations) TPK Theorie und Praxis der Körperkultur (Theory and Practice of Physical Culture) USSR Union of Soviet Socialist Republics VEB Volkseigener Betrieb (People’s Own Enterprise)

INTRODUCTION The astonishing achievements of athletes from the German Democratic Republic (GDR), or “East Germany,” in the Olympic Games and other international athletic competitions were arguably the former state’s biggest success stories. Over the course of a mere twenty years, East Germany emerged at the top of the world in many sports. East German athletes competed for the first time in the 1968 Olympic Games as a team separate from West Germany, and it was only in 1972 that they first used the East German flag and national anthem to represent their teams at international events. By 1988 athletes from East Germany, a country of only seventeen million citizens, finished second behind the Soviet Union in both the Winter and Summer Olympic Games. And yet, East Germany’s Olympic success is also inextricably tied to what stands for many as the most prominent example—alongside the Berlin Wall and the Stasi—of the abusive nature of the East German dictatorship: the “doping” of athletes, many of them young and unsuspecting, which helped produce these stunning medal counts. To this day, both East Germany’s Olympic successes and its doping scandals command the interest of the media, the sports world, and the general public. This study demonstrates, however, that an exclusive focus on the Olympics misses the full significance of sports in East Germany and overlooks the many insights that an analysis of sports yields about the nature of the East German dictatorship.1 Although the government

1 Very few scholarly works focus on mass participatory sports in East Germany. Among them are Daniel Wilton, “Regime versus People? Public opinion and the Development of Sport and Popular Music in the GDR, 1961–1989” (PhD Dissertation, University College London, 2005); Jonathan Grix, “The Decline of Mass Sport Provision in the German Democratic Republic,” The International Journal of the History of Sport 25, no. 4 (March 2008): 406–420; and Gertrud Pfister, Frauen und Sport in der DDR (Cologne: Sport und Buch Strauss, 2002). Recent works on Olympic-level sports include: Grit Hartmann, Goldkinder: Die DDR im Spiegel ihres Spitzensports (Leipzig: Forum Verlag, 1997); Hans Joachim Teichler and Klaus Reinartz, Das Leistungssportsystem der DDR in den 80er Jahren und im Prozess der Wende (Schorndorf: Hofmann, 1999); Giselher Spitzer, Doping in der DDR. Ein historischer Überblick zu einer konspirativen Praxis. Genese–Verantwortung–Gefahren (Cologne: Sport und Buch Strauss, 2000); Anke Delow, Leistungssport und Biographie. DDR-Leistungssportler der letzten Generation und ihr schwieriger Weg in die Moderne (Münster: Lit Verlag, 2000); Steven Ungerleider, Faust’s Gold: Inside the East German Doping Machine (New York: Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press,

2

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prioritized winning Olympic gold, it also worked to bring every citizen of East Germany into sports activities. As Secretary General of the Socialist Unity Party (SED) and East German leader Walter Ulbricht proclaimed as his goal, “Jedermann an jedem Ort, jede Woche einmal Sport” (Everybody, Everywhere, Should Play Sports Every Week).2 The goal of the current study is to analyze how the East German government used participatory sports programs, sports festivals, and sports spectatorship to transform its population into socialist citizens who displayed work productivity, paramilitary skill, participatory spirit, and socialist loyalty. A focus on sports illuminates both the power of the East German dictatorship over its population and its ultimate failure to transform its people into eager socialist citizens. It also highlights two broad themes: the orchestration of “participation” in modern dictatorships and the role of mass participatory sports as both a valuable political tool and a popular leisure activity in the twentieth century.3 In the years after World War Two, the East German government introduced new sports associations known as enterprise sports clubs (Betriebssportgemeinschaften [BSGs]). Reflecting the substantial power the Soviet Union wielded over East Germany’s SED party, the East German government modeled these clubs and the centralized associations that oversaw their activities on those developed in the Soviet Union in the 1920s and 1930s. The state sponsored everyday athletic opportunities for citizens, such as local sports festivals, mass runs in the forest, summer sports festivals on the beaches, and opportunities to earn the official Sports Medal that declared them “Prepared to Work and Defend.” It also organized special mass mobilization campaigns, including drives to

2001); and Giselher Spitzer, Sicherungsvorgang Sport. Das Ministerium für Staatssicherheit und der DDR-Spitzensport (Schorndorf: Hofmann, 2005). Two recent studies examine East German-West German sports relations: Jutta Braun and Hans Joachim Teichler, eds. Sportstadt Berlin im Kalten Krieg: Prestigekämpfe und Systemwettstreit (Berlin: Christoph Links, 2006), and Uta Andrea Balbier, Kalter Krieg auf der Aschenbahn: Der deutsch-deutsche Sport 1950 –1972 (Paderborn: Schöningh, 2007). 2 10 Jahre DDR: Der Sport hilft beim Aufbau (Berlin: Sportverlag Berlin, 1959), 26. 3 This focus on the social practice of sports at a grassroots level follows the direction of recent studies of the nineteenth-century gymnastics movement, such as Páll Björnsson, “Liberalism and the Making of the ‘New Man’: The Case of Gymnasts in Leipzig, 1845–1871,” in Saxony in German History: Culture, Society, and Politics, 1830 –1933, ed. James Retallack (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2000), 151–165; Svenja Goltermann, Körper der Nation: Habitusformierung und die Politik des Turnens 1860 –1890 (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1998); and Michael Krüger, Körperkultur und Nationsbildung: Die Geschichte des Turnens in der Reichsgründungsära—eine Detailstudie über die Deutschen (Schorndorf: Hofmann, 1996).

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3

encourage “voluntary” work on sports stadiums and to win participants for East Germany’s Gymnastics and Sports Festivals. International sports competitions, including the Friedensfahrt (Ride of Peace) cycling race and the Olympic Games, also served as opportunities to encourage citizen participation and to cultivate socialist loyalty. The SED built on powerful precedents when it chose to promote grassroots sports participation. Since the early nineteenth century, sports had enjoyed widespread popularity in Germany; the liberal-nationalist gymnastics movement, the socialist gymnastics and sports movements, the rise of modern football and cycling, and the Nazi politicization, militarization, and centralization of sports all demonstrated a deeply ingrained interest in organized participatory sports. The East German government’s administration of mass sporting activities reflected and continued this complex history of both mass participation in and central organization of sports. The current study explores the interaction between the new state sports programs and the continuing popular interest in sports, and thereby the impact of the new East German state on everyday life. This study focuses on sports activities rooted in citizens’ leisure time, the time they had at their disposal that was not structured by school or work. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, German citizens had often joined Vereine (voluntary associations) as an expression of their political and social identities within a burgeoning civil society. Yet, the East German state did not conceive of leisure as a separate and autonomous “private” sphere. This contrasted with the liberal-democratic worldview that interpreted leisure pursuits as rooted in individual liberties and freedom. Rather, socialist ideology saw both working and nonwork time as part of the total socialist project of pursuing all-around human development.4 Reflecting this ideological conception, the East German government took a strong interest in how its citizens spent their leisure time, hoping to mold it to “build socialism.” “Building socialism” involved not only creating centralized economic and political structures, but also fostering community and a collective spirit among East German citizens and encouraging them to identify with the socialist East German state. When citizens chose to devote their time to state-sponsored sports activities, the SED celebrated this

4 John M. Hoberman, Sport and Political Ideology (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1984), 207.

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participation as proof that its citizens identified with East Germany, saw it as a legitimate state, and wanted to make their own contributions to the collective project of building socialism. On a less ideological level, “building socialism” also became a metaphor for the efforts of the state to ensure the basic cooperation of East German citizens with state authorities and policies, regardless of their “socialist” content. To a large extent, the East German government, like other dictatorships such as Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, organized leisure, sports, and travel in part as a form of “social control.”5 The essential questions are: did participation in state-sponsored sports programs necessarily indicate loyalty to the socialist state and the transformation of East Germans into socialist citizens? Or did citizens simply choose to continue pursuing leisure activities that Germans had enjoyed since the early nineteenth century? By exploring these questions, this study of sports in everyday life—a sphere where the strategies of the state and the interests of its citizens met—sheds light on the challenges, successes, and limitations encountered by the East German government as it aimed to “build socialism” and to promote an East German identity; the ways that ordinary citizens participated in, accommodated to, and resisted this process; and the degree of continuity and change in twentieth-century German history. The temporal focus of this study is the “Aufbau” years in the GDR— the years of “socialist construction”—in the late 1940s and particularly the 1950s. In this period, SED leaders shared a certain idealism and optimism that, through successful mass mobilization, they could transform most of their population into active, productive, and proud East German citizens. The construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961, after more than 2.7 million East Germans had left for West Germany, represented the abandonment of much of this early idealism about building socialism. Historian Christoph Klessmann has emphasized the distinctiveness of the 1950s as a phase in East German history, noting that “A deep chasm . . . separates the dynamic beginnings of the GDR, characterized by mobilization and optimism, from its final phase, which was marked by insecurity, defensiveness, and an increasing inability to

For Fascist Italy, see Victoria de Grazia, The Culture of Consent: Mass Organization of Leisure in Fascist Italy (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1981). For Nazi Germany, see Shelley Baranowski, Strength through Joy: Consumerism and Mass Tourism in the Third Reich (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004). 5

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recognize reality.”6 In the realm of mass sports, this would manifest itself most directly, beginning in the 1960s, in an increase of support for elite achievement sports as a way to gain international glory for the East German state and a corresponding decline in the attention devoted to mass participatory sports as a vehicle of socialist transformation. The 1950s are also a unique decade because East Germany simultaneously called for both German reunification in a socialist state and the cultivation of a distinct East German national identity. East German sports culture reflected this dualism, as East Germany organized “German” Gymnastics and Sports Festivals even as it celebrated the victory of “East German” athletes in international athletic competitions such as the Friedensfahrt. The construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961 ended much of this rhetoric of German reunification. By focusing on mass sports and mass mobilization campaigns in the 1950s, this study offers a counterbalance to previous scholarship on sports in the GDR, which has focused almost exclusively on elite Olympics sports and doping scandals in later decades. A study of the mass mobilization process in the 1950s as exemplified by sports highlights the optimistic phase of the SED leaders’ efforts to “build socialism” as well as the challenges that would force them to change course and focus instead on maintaining the status quo of “actually existing socialism” in later decades.7

6 Christoph Klessmann, “Rethinking the Second German Dictatorship,” in Dictatorship as Experience: Towards a Socio-Cultural History of the GDR, ed. Konrad Jarausch (New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 1999), 371. During the years from 1945 to 1961, the state faced the dual challenges of recovering from war and “building socialism.” According to East Germany’s own historical periodization, the years from 1945 to 1949 constituted the “antifascist-democratic transformation.” The next stage, from 1949 to 1961, was the “creation of the basis of socialism.” The years from 1961 to approximately 1970 were the years of the “path to developed socialist society,” followed by “actually existing socialism” from 1971 until 1990. See Corey Ross, The East German Dictatorship: Problems and Perspectives in the Interpretation of the GDR (New York: Arnold, 2002), 7–8. 7 Joshua Feinstein reveals that by the late 1960s and 1970s, East German film began to emphasize everyday life, reflecting this shift from a future-oriented socialist society-in-the-making to a society focused on the preservation of the status quo. See The Triumph of the Ordinary: Depictions of Daily Life in the East German Cinema, 1949 –1989 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002). For recent essays by several leading British historians of the GDR, focused primarily on the 1970s and 1980s, see Peter Barker, Marc-Dietrich Ohse, and Dennis Tate, eds. Views from Abroad—Die DDR aus britischer Perspektive (Bielefeld: Bertelsmann, 2007).

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introduction The Contested Nature of Research on East Germany

Historical debates about the nature of the East German dictatorship are often heated and politicized, stemming in large part from the relatively recent demise of the GDR, the complexities and tensions of German reunification, the perception in Germany that the former East Germany is dragging down the economy, and the recent burst of “Ostalgie” (nostalgia for the East), particularly in German popular culture. Historical research, writing, and debate take place against the backdrop of the continued resonance of the East German experience in united Germany today.8 One prominent interpretation is that the East German regime was fundamentally illegitimate, because it was propped up almost exclusively by Soviet military power. Those who emphasize the state’s illegitimacy point to the prominence of blatant repression, including the East German Stasi and the Berlin Wall, and to evidence of citizen dissatisfaction, including widespread emigration, dissident movements, the state’s sudden collapse, and citizens’ enthusiasm for German reunification in 1990.9 This interpretive strand in scholarship has produced significant insights into the history of East Germany, particularly in outlining in great detail power structures and mechanisms of repression.10 8 For overviews of historiography on the GDR, see Beate Ihme-Tuchel, Die DDR (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2002) and Ross, The East German Dictatorship. For more on the problems accompanying German reunification, see the essays in Mike Dennis and Eva Kolinsky, eds., United and Divided: Germany Since 1990 (New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2004). 9 Corey Ross discusses historical interpretations focused on repression and state control over society in The East German Dictatorship, chapters 2 and 3. See also Konrad Jarausch, “Beyond Uniformity: The Challenge of Historicizing the GDR,” in Dictatorship as Experience, 3–4. Jürgen Kocka discusses the concept of the “thoroughly ruled society” (durchherrschte Gesellschaft) as an explanatory model for East German state-society relations in “Eine durchherrschte Gesellschaft,” in Sozialgeschichte der DDR, ed. Hartmut Kaelble, Jürgen Kocka, and Hartmut Zwahr (Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1994), 547–553. Kocka elaborates on this argument and notes that some historians also refer to East German society as a “statist society” (verstaatlichte Gesellschaft), in “The GDR: A Special Kind of Modern Dictatorship,” in Dictatorship as Experience, 17–26. Sigrid Meuschel also argues that the East German state succeeded in absorbing society in Legitimation und Parteiherrschaft: Zum Paradox von Stabilität und Revolution in der DDR (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1992). Arnim Mitter and Stefan Wolle argue that the GDR never enjoyed genuine legitimacy in the eyes of its citizens and held on to power purely through repression, in Untergang auf Raten: Unbekannte Kapitel der DDR-Geschichte (Munich: Bertelsmann, 1993). 10 See Peter Grieder, The East German Leadership, 1946–73: Conflict and Crisis (Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 2000) for an in-depth study of

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A recent cultural development, positing a very different interpretation of the GDR, is the rise of Ostalgie among former East German citizens who miss the social and economic security and sense of community they experienced in the GDR. A growing phenomenon in regions formerly part of East Germany, Ostalgie is seen in books and films, firms selling products from the east, and in the electoral victories of the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS). Although more prevalent in popular and political culture than in academic writing, this perspective nonetheless shapes academic discussions of the GDR and has drawn considerable scholarly interest.11 Mediating these very different positions over the last decade have been efforts to rethink the nature of the East German dictatorship and state-society relations by going beyond the study of the highest levels of political power and repression and giving a closer examination to how the state and its citizens interacted in a variety of spheres in the context of everyday life.12 The intent behind these studies is to assess the Politbüro and the Central Committee of the SED Party. Grieder also offers insights in “The Leadership of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany under Ulbricht,” in The Workers’ and Peasants’ State: Communism and Society in East Germany under Ulbricht, 1945–71, ed. Patrick Major and Jonathan Osmond (Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 2002), 22–40. Formative works on the Stasi include Helmut Müller-Enbergs, Inoffizielle Mitarbeiter des Ministeriums für Staatssicherheit, Vol. 1 (Berlin: Christoph Links, 1996); Helmut Müller-Enbergs, Inoffizielle Mitarbeiter des Ministeriums für Staatssicherheit, Vol. 2 (Berlin: Christoph Links, 1998); David Childs and Richard Popplewell, The Stasi: The East German Intelligence and Security Service (New York: New York University Press, 1996); Jens Gieseke, Der Mielke-Konzern. Die Geschichte der Stasi 1945–1990 (Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags Anstalt, 2001); Jens Gieseke, “Ulbricht’s Secret Police: the Ministry of State Security,” in The Workers’ and Peasants’ State, 41–58; and Mike Dennis and Norman Laporte, The Stasi: Myth and Reality (Boston and New York: Pearson/Longman, 2003). For a lively personal account of Stasi surveillance, see Timothy Garton Ash, The File: A Personal History (New York: Random House, 1998). Catherine Epstein reviews recent scholarly literature on the Stasi in “The Stasi: New Research on the East German Ministry of State Security,” Kritika 5, no. 2 (2004): 321–348. 11 For more on Ostalgie, see Daphne Berdahl, “(N)ostalgie for the Present: Memory, Longing, and East German Things,” Ethnos 62, no. 2 (1999): 192–211; Martin Blum, “Remaking the East German Past: Ostalgie, Identity, and Material Culture,” Journal of Popular Culture 34, no. 3 (2000): 229–53; Paul Betts, “The Twilight of the Idols: East German Memory and Material Culture,” Journal of Modern History 72, no. 3 (2000): 731–65; Thomas Goll and Thomas Leuerer, eds. Ostalgie als Erinnerungskultur? Symposium zu Lied und Politik in der DDR (Baden-Baden: Nomos, 2004); and Thomas Ahbe, Ostalgie: Zum Umgang mit der DDR-Vergangenheit in den 1990er Jahren (Erfurt: Landeszentrale für Politische Bildung Thüringen, 2005). 12 For an early collection of essays using social historical analysis to explore the GDR, see Kaelble, Kocka, and Zwahr, eds., Sozialgeschichte der DDR. For a collection that brings together scholarship on state, society, and culture, see the varied contributions in Patrick Major and Jonathan Osmond, eds., The Workers’ and Peasants’ State.

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the extent to which the government’s totalitarian ambitions did and/or did not translate into practice.13 One strategy has been to focus on the “limits of dictatorship.”14 Another interpretation, introduced by Mary Fulbrook, describes East Germany as a “participatory dictatorship,” which she defines as an “oxymoronic expression . . . intended to underline the ways in which the people themselves were at one and the same time both constrained and affected by, and yet also actively and often voluntarily carried, the ever changing social and political system of the GDR.”15 Another school of interpretation applies to the GDR the concept of Eigen-Sinn (self-will/self-interest), first developed by historian Alf Lüdtke,16 in order to assess how citizens were able to retain some agency by working within the system to pursue their individual goals and by both directly and indirectly resisting some of the state’s plans for their lives.17 13 For a concise summary of academic debates about the extent of totalitarian control, see Andrew I. Port, Conflict and Stability in the German Democratic Republic (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 2–10. His own research on industrial and agricultural workers in Saalfeld rethinks state-society relations and examines the horizontal relations between and among East German citizens in order to explain the relative stability of the GDR for most of its existence. 14 See the introduction and the essays in Richard Bessel and Ralph Jessen, eds., Die Grenzen der Diktatur (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1996). These “limits” often involved not only outright opposition, but also more subtle acts of everyday resistance that the state nonetheless had to accommodate. For an overview of historical writing on more formal resistance and opposition movements, see Ross, The East German Dictatorship, chapter 5. See also Gary Bruce, Resistance with the People: Repression and Resistance in Eastern Germany, 1945–1955 (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2003). 15 Mary Fulbrook, The People’s State: East German Society from Honecker to Hitler (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005), 12. For critiques of Mary Fulbrook’s concept of the “participatory dictatorship,” see the reviews of The People’s State by Jens Gieseke in German History 25, no. 1 (2007): 118–119 and by David Childs in English Historical Review 121 (2006): 1154–1156. Konrad Jarausch has developed the related concept of a “welfare dictatorship” to describe East Germany, particularly in the 1970s and 1980s, in which the government related to its citizens not only through “coercion” but also through “care.” See “Care and Coercion: The GDR as Welfare Dictatorship,” in Dictatorship as Experience, 47–69. The essays in Dictatorship as Experience, originally in German, all examine the workings of the East German dictatorship from a sociocultural perspective. 16 Alf Lüdtke pioneered the concept of Eigen-Sinn in his work on German labor history and applied it to the Third Reich in “What Happened to the Fiery Red Glow?: Workers’ Experiences and German Fascism,” in The History of Everyday Life: Reconstructing Historical Experiences and Ways of Life, ed. Alf Lüdtke (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995), 198–251. For an early work on Eigen-Sinn in the GDR, see Alf Lüdtke and Peter Becker, eds., Akten, Eingaben, Schaufenster: Die DDR und ihre Texte (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1997). 17 Thomas Lindenberger discusses the Eigen-Sinn concept for the GDR in “Die Diktatur der Grenzen: Zur Einleitung” in Herrschaft und Eigen-Sinn in der Diktatur: Studien

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These approaches all acknowledge that the East German government operated as a dictatorship, but question the extent to which the state always met its goals. They also demonstrate that citizens participated in state activities and cooperated with government expectations not only out of fear of an oppressive government, but also as a response to more subtle “soft coercion,” and sometimes as a recognition that they could pursue their individual goals and desires through the state’s organizations. At the same time, this new scholarship demonstrates that citizens sometimes retained some autonomy in their own lives despite living in a dictatorship. This study’s focus on sports programs and festivals reaffirms the fundamental dictatorial nature of the regime by demonstrating that dictatorship is evident not only in the work of the secret police, but also in the government’s use of its monopoly over economic, political, and social life to maximize participation in its activities and to orchestrate displays of unity. The SED and the State Committee for Physical Culture and Sports established sports plans according to the dictates of democratic centralism and passed them down through the centralized structures of East German sports and into the hands of every sports club leader. The state wanted to establish a standardized leisure culture all over the GDR, thus ensuring that all citizens devoted their free time to “building socialism.” The state often used coercion to aid its mass mobilization projects, most significantly by suppressing citizen efforts to restore their pre-Nazi independent sports clubs and introducing instead the Soviet-inspired enterprise sports clubs (BSGs) as the only acceptable outlets for citizens who wished to play competitive sports. The government also exerted pressure on citizens through its control over the educational system and the work place to elicit their participation. Furthermore, the state worked to present images of a perfectly mobilized, orderly society in its Gymnastics and Sports Festivals. Displaying “choreographed unity,” these festivals, carefully planned by organizers, featured elaborate synchronized gymnastics demonstrations designed to

zur Gesellschaftgeschichte der DDR, ed. Thomas Lindenberger (Cologne: Böhlau, 1999), 13–44. For a book-length example of scholarship considering the interrelationship of Herrschaft and Eigen-Sinn, see Thomas Lindenberger, Volkspolizei: Herrschaftspraxis und öffentliche Ordnung im SED-Staat 1952–1968 (Cologne: Böhlau, 2003).

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highlight to all of East Germany and to outsiders the extraordinary synchronicity, order, discipline, and collectivity of the GDR.18 While acknowledging the state’s coercive power, this study probes the complexity of everyday life by examining, on a microlevel, how the state worked to elicit citizen participation, and why many citizens chose to participate in state sports programs. The state’s use of soft coercion helps explain some citizen participation in state sporting programs. Many of the state’s mobilization campaigns, such as the promotion of the Sports Medal or “voluntary work actions” on sports facilities, relied on the work place or school, where citizens often felt compelled to participate in order to protect their jobs or to take qualifying exams. Even displays of seeming spontaneity—tens of thousands of citizens greeting Friedensfahrt cyclists as they rode through East Germany—reflected carefully coordinated organization, often based in the work place or school. Yet the East German government also employed many strategies to encourage participation that are not unique to dictatorships. Incorporating a wide range of psychological, civic, and material incentives into its mass mobilization drives, leaders worked to engage their citizens. State campaigns often addressed citizens as individuals and promised them that state sports programs would bring them personal benefits ranging from improved health to pride in their contributions to successful projects. State sports organizers gave individuals certificates and medals and reported their accomplishments in newspapers and newsletters. The state also spoke to citizens as members of historical communities, emphasizing the continuities between the GDR and indigenous German traditions and packaging participation in state programs as opportunities to serve the local community or continue local traditions. Material incentives ranging from cash prizes to automobiles also encouraged citizens to play sports and contribute to special campaigns. The concept of Eigen-Sinn can help explain citizen response to these state strategies. Citizens recognized how participation in state sports could benefit their educational and professional lives. At the same time, they recognized that they could pursue individual and community goals through participation in state activities.

18 For more on “choreographed unity,” see Adelheid von Saldern, “Einleitung: Herrschaft und Repräsentation in DDR-Städten,” in Inszenierte Einigkeit: Herrschaftsrepräsentationen in DDR-Städten, ed. Adelheid von Saldern (Stuttgart: F. Steiner, 2003), 9–58.

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Although the goal of the state was the total mobilization of all sectors of society, there were, in fact, limits to dictatorship. Central plans almost never translated to the local level in quite the way the state intended. Local organizations often failed to cooperate with each other, or scheduled competing events on the same day. In the 1950s, for example, rural sports festivals often failed to attract participants because city councils had scheduled mass potato planting for the same day. While central organizers often criticized local officials for failing to implement programs with proper commitment, local officials in turn expressed frustration with central authorities for throwing responsibilities into their laps without adequate practical assistance or financial support. Financial shortages limited the state’s ambitions. The state often had to elicit citizens’ “voluntary” support to offset financial problems. Even the highlights of East German sports—the elaborate Gymnastics and Sports Festivals—exposed the financial problems that plagued the state. The state made scarce goods available to citizens during the festivals, an act that citizens greeted with appreciation tinged with frustration about what the state failed to provide on a day-to-day basis. The financial limits to dictatorship took on even more significance as the disparity between the living standards in East and West Germany widened, undermining the SED’s claim that East Germany was the superior Germany.19 Furthermore, even when citizens complied with government expectations for sports participation, they often attributed different meanings to those activities than those desired by the state. In this sense, the same Eigen-Sinn that led citizens to cooperate could also undercut the socialist project. Virtually every citizen earned the Sports Medal, celebrated by the government as the “benchmark” of its success. Yet, citizens tended to place much more value on their individual and team competitive achievements and on the sociable aspects of participation than they did on earning the state-mandated medal. Frequently, too, they fudged numbers in order to meet state expectations, showing how little they respected the process. Moreover, citizens who performed voluntary work hours on athletic facilities experienced individual, club, and community pride more commonly than the hearty socialist voluntary spirit desired Christoph Klessmann argues that the GDR was unique within the socialist bloc because its western half was “omnipresent.” See “Rethinking,” 366. See also Jeffrey Kopstein, The Politics of Economic Decline in East Germany 1945–1989 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997). 19

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by authorities. In other words, the state had an undeniable influence on everyday sports, yet many of its sports clubs continued to function somewhat independently of the state.20 This argument does not envision East Germany as a “niche society,” in which citizens lived double lives of “outward conformity combined with private authenticity.”21 Such a dichotomy is too stark and perpetuates the notion that state and society were separate entities. Instead, this study of East German sports suggests that citizens could be heavily engaged in state activities, even learning to use state terminology to think about and understand their daily experiences as part of the project of “building socialism,” while simultaneously deriving individual and communal meaning from their participation. Citizens were not necessarily resisting the state by placing more value on success in competition than on earning the Sports Medal, by viewing voluntary work actions as community accomplishments, or by enjoying the sociability that sports fostered. But they were able to preserve some distance from the state, even as they complied with its expectations and joined its clubs. This persistence of some degree of individual and communal autonomy represents one of the chief limits of the state’s project to use sports to transform East Germans into model socialist citizens. The state did not believe in an autonomous, private sphere, and yet citizens continued to enjoy their leisure activities as personal and communal. In this sense, East Germany’s BSGs, despite their incorporation into a centralized leisure system, continued to function somewhat as the Vereine had in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as voluntary

20 Robert Edelman has demonstrated that soccer spectatorship in the Soviet Union revealed a similar dynamic, in that most workers remained loyal to the Spartak soccer team rather than the Dinamo team sponsored by the police. See “A Small Way of Saying ‘No’: Moscow Working Men, Spartak Soccer, and the Communist Party, 1900–1945,” American Historical Review 107, no. 5 (December 2002): 1441–1474. Donna Harsch’s work on women in the GDR emphasizes the significance of everyday acts of resistance and autonomy, and not only large-scale acts of resistance such as the uprising on 17 June 1953. Harsch explains that she puts “as much emphasis on the corrosive effect of everyday evasions and resistances, including decisions about consumption, marriage, reproduction, the care of children, job training, and hours of work.” See Revenge of the Domestic: Women, the Family, and Communism in the German Democratic Republic (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007), 14. 21 See Mary Fulbrook, Anatomy of a Dictatorship: Inside the GDR 1949 –1989 (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), 129. Günter Gaus first formulated the “niche society” argument, explaining East German stability from a West German perspective, in Wo Deutschland liegt (Munich: Deutsche Taschenbuch Verlag, 1986).

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associations that brought people together outside of work and school to enjoy associational activities independent of the state. An analysis of sports reveals other elements of both continuity and discontinuity between the GDR and previous German states and political movements. Although the GDR defined itself as the “antifascist state,” its centralization of leisure, prioritization of collective and state interests over those of the individual, suppression of grassroots initiative, institutionalization of paramilitarism, and aestheticization of politics in public festivals bore a striking resemblance to public culture in the Third Reich. Nazi Germany and the GDR were founded upon very different ideologies, yet both worked to mobilize all elements of society to create their respective versions of a better future.22 This study demonstrates, however, that in order to understand fully how the GDR used sports as a vehicle for mass mobilization, one must move beyond the usual comparisons between East Germany and Nazi Germany and instead situate East Germany within a broader historical context. Although to the historian, the similarities between Nazi Germany and East Germany are striking, to SED leaders the state fit into a very different historical trajectory. They claimed that the GDR was the inheritor and protector of the traditions of the German working class,23 and they also celebrated certain non-working-class movements and traditions, such as the nineteenth-century liberal nationalist movement. In fact, by appealing to the civic identities of their citizens, East Germany’s promotional campaigns and drives to elicit voluntary participation had much in common with nineteenth-century liberalnationalist efforts to raise money for national monuments.24 In addition, the state’s interest in instrumentalizing its citizens’ bodies to foster paramilitarism and improve work productivity was hardly

22 For an analysis of the role of coordination in everyday life in Nazi Germany, see Detlev Peukert, Inside Nazi Germany: Conformity, Opposition, and Racism in Everyday Life (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987). Victoria de Grazia explores the centralization of leisure in fascist Italy in The Culture of Consent, and Shelley Baranowski explores the Nazi organization of leisure in Strength through Joy. 23 For further insights into continuities between the Weimar-era traditions of the German KPD and the East German SED, see Eric Weitz, Creating German Communism, 1890 –1990: From Popular Politics to Socialist State (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997). 24 See George Mosse, The Nationalization of the Masses: Political Symbolism and Mass Movements in Germany from the Napoleonic Wars through the Third Reich (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1975), and Charlotte Tacke, Denkmal im sozialen Raum: Nationale Symbole in Deutschland und Frankreich im 19. Jahrhundert (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1995).

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unique to dictatorships such as the Third Reich and East Germany. Liberal democracies, including the United States and the Weimar Republic in Germany, have promoted sports to improve paramilitary ability. Nor was an ideology of productivism an East German innovation. Productivism already had deep roots on German soil in the form of the science of work and Taylorism. Some large enterprises, such as Siemens, had sponsored sports during the Weimar years to promote work productivity and worker loyalty.25 Company-sponsored sports were also a prominent feature of welfare capitalism in the United States.26 Many socialist leaders including early Soviet leaders embraced productivist ideologies and Taylorist methods, even though these were first developed under capitalism. According to historian Anson Rabinbach, productivism was “politically promiscuous.”27 Moreover, states across the political spectrum in the twentieth century recognized the appeal of sports as a vehicle to bolster patriotism and boost international standing. These included Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, both of which embraced sports to foster paramilitary ability and to achieve success in international athletic competitions and thereby prove national superiority.28 The Soviet Union also embraced competitive sports in the 1930s under Stalin, and beginning with its first

25 See Andreas Luh, Betriebssport zwischen Arbeitgeberinteressen und Arbeitnehmerbedürfnissen: Eine historische Analyse vom Kaiserreich bis zur Gegenwart (Aachen: Meyer und Meyer, 1998), and Mary Nolan, Visions of Modernity: American Business and the Modernization of Germany (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1994). 26 Stuart D. Brandes, American Welfare Capitalism, 1880 –1940 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970), 5, 75. 27 Anson Rabinbach, The Human Motor: Energy, Fatigue, and the Origins of Modernity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992), 272. 28 For Italy, see de Grazia; Tracy H. Koon, Believe, Obey, Fight: Political Socialization of Youth in Fascist Italy, 1922–1943 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1985), 91–106; Gigliola Gori, “Italy: Mussolini’s Boys at Hitler’s Olympics,” in The Nazi Olympics: Sports, Politics, and Appeasement in the 1930s, ed. Arnd Krüger and W. J. Murray (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2003), 113–126; and Simon Martin, Football and Fascism: The National Game under Mussolini (Oxford and New York: Berg, 2004). For Nazi Germany, see Hoberman, 91–109, 162–169; Hajo Bernett, Sportpolitik im Dritten Reich (Schorndorf: Hofmann, 1971); Richard Mandell, The Nazi Olympics, 2nd ed. (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1987); Peter Reichel, Der schöne Schein des Dritten Reiches: Faszination und Gewalt des Faschismus (Frankfurt am Main: Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, 1991), 255–272; Hans Joachim Teichler, Internationale Sportpolitik im Dritten Reich (Schorndorf: Hofmann, 1991); Hartmut Lissinna, Nationale Sportfeste im nationalsozialistischen Deutschland (Mannheim: Palatium, 1997); Reinhard Rürup, ed., 1936: Die Olympischen Spiele und der Nationalsozialismus (Berlin: Argon, 1999); Arnd Krüger, “Germany: The Propaganda Machine,” in The Nazi Olympics, 17–43, and David Clay Large, Nazi Games: The Olympics of 1936 (New York: W. W. Norton, 2007).

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Olympic appearance in 1952, strove to dominate the medal-rankings. The Soviet system to discover and train athletic talent influenced that of East Germany, other Eastern European socialist states, and China.29 Societies that identify themselves as liberal and democratic and emphasize individualism have also used sports to foster national identity and bolster international standing, although without the heavy-handed state direction characteristic of dictatorships. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the British used sports as a tool of empire, exporting their games throughout the empire to spread “civilization,” embodied in values such as sportsmanship, fair play, and proper masculinity. However, as teams from some of Britain’s colonies, including the rugby teams of South Africa and New Zealand, began to defeat British teams by using superior fitness training and tactics, British sporting culture became more distinctly nationalistic, with many believing that sports should “confirm that the British were the best men and therefore should remain in control.”30 Some individuals and groups in the United States also embraced sports to cultivate national identity. In the Progressive Era, sports bureaucrats took steps to establish the “uniqueness” of certain American sports, erasing the British roots of baseball and distinguishing football from rugby, thereby allowing both sports to stand as American inventions and reinforcing notions of American exceptionalism. Americans also began to associate sports with national holidays such as Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July, further solidifying the link between sports and American national identity.31 Between 1876 and 1919, intellectuals also embraced sports as a “social technology” that could foster a “sporting republic.” Sports could create shared loyalties that overcame class, race, ethnic, and gender divisions. American performance in international competitions such as the Olympics was particularly significant in defining American

See Hoberman, 190–231; James Riordan, Soviet Sport Background to the Olympics (New York: New York University Press, 1980); James Riordan, Sport, Politics, and Communism (Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 1991); James Riordan, ed., Sport under Communism: The U.S.S.R., Czechoslovakia, The G.D.R., China, Cuba (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1978); Robert Edelman, Serious Fun: A History of Spectator Sports in the USSR (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1993); and Susan Brownell, Training the Body for China: Sports in the Moral Order of the People’s Republic (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995). 30 Patrick F. McDevitt, “May the Best Man Win”: Sport, Masculinity, and Nationalism in Great Britain and the Empire, 1880–1935 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), 139. 31 S. W. Pope, Patriotic Games: Sporting Traditions in the American Imagination, 1876–1926 (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 59–78, 85–118. 29

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national identity through sports. American victories were “triumphs of republican civilization.”32 In essence, this study provides insights not only into the East German state’s use of sports to build socialism in the 1950s, but also into broader twentieth-century trends. In particular, it shows how social groups, economic enterprises, and states of all political persuasions mobilized their citizens’ bodies through sports to achieve political and social goals and valued participation in its programs as an indication of loyalty and support. Gymnastics and Sports in German History In using sports to build socialism, the East German government did not have to introduce anything fundamentally new to its citizens. Gymnastics and sports clubs had already emerged as popular leisure time activities in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Germany. Membership in gymnastics and sports clubs allowed individuals to express political and social identities, whether bourgeois or working-class, liberal-nationalist or socialist. In the years after World War One, sports became both a mass participatory phenomenon and a focus of profitable spectator events. The National Socialist government transformed grassroots associational clubs into highly centralized, state-run paramilitary vehicles. These diverse German sporting traditions would shape the SED’s organization of sports in East Germany. Friedrich Ludwig Jahn—often known as “Father Jahn”—founded the Turnen (gymnastics) movement between 1811 and 1819, against the backdrop of the Wars of Liberation against France. He organized Turnvereine with both national and paramilitary goals; he hoped to train young men to defend German territories against outsiders. Father Jahn and his early Turner performed non-competitive gymnastics exercises on apparatuses such as the parallel bars, the horizontal bar, and the vaulting horse, and also engaged in synchronized exercises without equipment.33

Mark Dyreson, Making the American Team: Sport, Culture, and the Olympic Experience (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1998), 1–6, 180–98. 33 Berit Elisabeth Dencker, “Popular Gymnastics and the Military Spirit in Germany, 1848–1871,” Central European History 34, no. 4 (2001): 505–506. 32

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In the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars, many members of the rising middle class with liberal political leanings gravitated towards Turnen. In 1819, the Carlsbad Decrees forbade Turnvereine, viewing their liberal nationalism as threatening to the conservative monarchical order. Nonetheless, by mid-century Turnvereine flourished. For many nineteenthcentury bourgeois liberals, the Turnverein was one of the central sources of an emerging and confident political and social identity. Membership in a Turnverein allowed men to cultivate influence within local associational networks and to form a collective identity that challenged conservative political authority. Furthermore, because members of Turnvereine located throughout the German lands gathered occasionally for “national” festivals, the clubs—and their festivals—became grassroots expressions of an emerging German national unity. The 1863 German Gymnastics Festival in Leipzig combined gymnastics demonstrations with social activities and political propaganda, featured speeches that imitated national-liberal manifestos, and incorporated the tricolor flag.34 In 1860, a decade before German unification, the individual Turnvereine joined together to form the German Gymnasts Association (Deutsche Turnerschaft) as an umbrella organization. The German Gymnasts Association existed until the Nazis dissolved it in 1935. By 1864, 13.2% of the urban male population in the German-speaking territories was affiliated with a Turnverein.35 In the nineteenth century, Turnen was almost an exclusively male preserve. Membership in a Turnverein became an expression of masculinity, with only a very small number of upper class women engaged in Turnen, primarily as a means of enhancing beauty

Björnsson, 161. For background information on the history of Father Jahn and the Turn movement, see Björnsson, 151–165; Dencker, 503–530; Goltermann, Körper der Nation; Dieter Langewiesche, “ ‘. . . für Volk und Vaterland kräftig zu würken . . .’: Zur politischen und gesellschaftlichen Rolle der Turner zwischen 1811 und 1871,” in Kulturgut oder Körperkult?, ed. Ommo Grupe (Tübingen: Attempto, 1990), 22–61; Wolfgang Kaschuba, “Die Nation als Körper: Zur symbolischen Konstruktion ‘nationaler’ Alltagswelt,” in Nation und Emotion: Deutschland und Frankreich im Vergleich 19. und 20. Jahrhundert, ed. Etienne Francois, Hannes Siegrist, and Jakob Vogel (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1995), 291–299; Michael Krüger, Körperkultur und Nationsbildung; Michael Krüger, “Body Culture and Nation Building: The History of Gymnastics in Germany in the Period of its Foundation as a Nation-State,” International Journal of the History of Sport 13, no. 3 (December 1996): 409–17; and Michael Krüger, Einführung in die Geschichte der Leibeserziehung und des Sports 2. Leibeserziehung im 19. Jahrhundert. Turnen fürs Vaterland, 2nd ed. (Schorndorf: Hofmann, 2005). For insights into the Czech nationalist gymnastics movement known as Sokol, see Claire E. Nolte, The Sokol in the Czech Lands: Training for the Nation (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002). 34 35

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and health. Those women who did join Turnvereine were restricted to special women’s sections and were only allowed to join local Vereine, not the national German Gymnasts Association.36 The organized working class, expanding during late nineteenthcentury industrialization, soon embraced gymnastic clubs as sources of sociability. Some workers joined the bourgeois Vereine, but many of these associations refused to lower membership fees,37 leading workers to found their own working-class gymnastics clubs. The most famous club was the Fichte-Turnverein, founded in Berlin in 1890, coinciding with the demise of the Anti-Socialist Law. In 1893, members of working-class Turnvereine formed the Worker-Gymnasts Federation (ArbeiterTurnerbund [ATB]) in Gera, which functioned as a parallel organization to the bourgeois German Gymnasts Association. Workers later hailed the founding of the ATB as the beginning of a movement it called Arbeitersport (working-class sports).38 On the eve of World War One, it had 187,000 members in 2,400 individual clubs.39 Unlike the German Gymnasts Association, which banned female membership, the ATB stood in keeping with socialist ideology and embraced the full membership of women. However, very few women joined, largely because they had neither the time, in light of family responsibilities, nor the money to engage in much leisure. The famous Fichte-Turnverein in Berlin was one of the first clubs to establish a female section in 1895. The percentage of women who joined sheds light on the lack of female participation in the broader working class gymnastics movement. In 1900 Fichte had 151 female members, who constituted 14.4% of the membership. By 1910 186 women were members, but they comprised only 8.9% of the total membership.

36 Gertrud Pfister, “Frauen auf Deutschen Turnfesten: Zum Wandel der Geschlechterordnung in der Turnbewegung,” in Sport Schau: Ausstellung Deutsche Turnfeste 1860 bis 2002, ed. Volker Rodekamp (Leipzig: Stadtgeschichtliches Museum Leipzig, 2002), 73–81. 37 Björnsson, 164. 38 For general background information on Arbeitersport in Germany, see Hoberman, 177–189; Arnd Krüger, “The German Way of Worker Sport,” in The Story of Worker Sport, ed. Arnd Krüger and James Riordan (Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics Press, 1996), 1–26; and the many essays collected in Illustrierte Geschichte des Arbeitersports, ed. Hans Joachim Teichler and Gerhard Hauk (Berlin: Dietz, 1987), particularly Rüdiger Zimmermann, “Daten und Ereignisse zum Arbeitersport,” 247–255. Vernon Lidtke explores working-class culture and the socialist movement in The Alternative Culture: Socialist Labor in Imperial Germany (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1985). 39 Zimmermann, 247.

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By 1913, 415 women were members, constituting 13.9% of the total membership. For the ATB as a whole, female membership stood at 2% in 1895 and grew to only 9% in 1912.40 Competitive British sports arrived in Germany in the late nineteenth century. Turnen celebrated general participation and valued the athletic activity in and of itself. Competitive sports, in contrast, favored achievement and record-setting, and only a small number of athletes could become champions. Some members of the bourgeois Turnvereine rejected competitive sports,41 and the German working-class gymnastics movement also debated whether or not competition was appropriate for socialists.42 However, primarily the upper echelons of the socialist sports movement engaged in such debates, and many workers increasingly embraced competitive sports.43 Sports as a prominent venue of associational life for both the middle class and the working class exploded after World War One, continuing to attract large numbers of people from all social classes throughout the years of the Weimar Republic.44 During the interwar years, both intellectuals and fans began to view athletes as quintessential figures of modernity.45 The number of people who participated in sports continued to grow. Athletes founded a new umbrella organization for middleclass sports, the German Association for Physical Education (Deutscher 40 Gertrud Pfister, “Demands, Realities, and Ambivalences: Women in the Proletarian Sports Movement in Germany (1893–1933),” Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal 3, no. 2 (Fall 1994): 41–42. 41 Barbara J. Keys discusses tensions between gymnastics and sports in Globalizing Sport: National Rivalry and International Community in the 1930s (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006). For a general overview of English sports in Germany, see Christiane Eisenberg, “English Sports” und deutsche Bürger: Eine Gesellschaftsgeschichte 1800–1939 (Paderborn: Schöningh, 1999). 42 Hoberman, 177–189. 43 Thomas Adam, “How Proletarian was Leipzig’s Social Democratic Milieu?” in Saxony in German History: Culture, Society, and Politics, 1830–1933, ed. James Retallack (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2000), 264. 44 See Christiane Eisenberg, “Massensport in der Weimarer Republik: Ein statistischer Überblick,” Archiv für Sozialgeschichte 33 (1993): 137–78, and Michael Krüger, Einführung in die Geschichte der Leibeserziehung und des Sports 3. Leibeserziehung im 20. Jahrhundert. Sport für alle, 2nd ed. (Schorndorf: Hofmann, 2005). 45 See Frank Becker, Amerikanismus in Weimar: Sportsymbole und politische Kultur, 1918–1933 (Wiesbaden: Deutscher Universitätsverlag, 1993); Frank Becker, “Sportsmen in the Machine World: Models for Modernization in Weimar Germany,” International Journal of the History of Sport 12, no. 1 (April 1995): 153–68; and Michael Mackenzie, “The Athlete as Machine: A Figure of Modernity in Weimar Germany,” in Leibhaftiger Moderne: Ästhetik der Leibeskultur in der Zwischenkriegszeit, ed. Kai Sicks and Michael Cowan (Bielefeld: Transcript, 2005), 48–62.

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Reichsausschuss für Leibesübungen), in 1921. The German Gymnasts Association, in a move that symbolized a reconciliation of the Turner’s traditional rejection of competition with the widely popular British competitive sports, joined forces with the new German Association for Physical Education. However, the German Gymnasts Association remained uncomfortable with international competition and broke with the German Association for Physical Education in 1928. The German Association for Physical Education supported Germany’s participation in the Olympic Games, and the German Gymnasts Association did not.46 During the Weimar years, the working-class gymnastics movement also began to accept competition. In 1919 the ATB changed its name to the Workers’ Gymnastics and Sports Federation (Arbeiter Turn- und Sportbund [ATSB]), signifying its embrace of competitive sports. The ATSB was the largest working-class sports organization in the Weimar Republic, with 746,000 members in 1930. The ATSB coexisted with other Arbeitersport organizations, such as the Workers’ Cycling and Driving Club ‘Solidarity,’ with 314,000 members in 1930, and the Worker-Athletes, with 52,000 members in 1930. Two of the highpoints of Arbeitersport in the 1920s were the inaugural Workers’ Gymnastics and Sports Festival, which took place in Leipzig in 1922 and attracted over 100,000 participants and visitors from nine nations,47 and the first International Workers’ Olympiad, held in Frankfurt in 1925.48 Women saw expanded opportunities for athletic participation in the Weimar Republic. In fact, the athletic female became one of the prototypes of the celebrated Weimar “new woman,” whether she was of the working or the middle class.49 However, participation in sports

46 Keys, 123. For insights into the physical culture movement in the Weimar Republic, which posited a holistic form of physical exercise as an alternative to the specialization of competitive sports, see Michael Hau, The Cult of Health and Beauty in Germany: A Social History, 1890 –1930 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003), particularly chapter 8. Hau argues (p. 177) that the physical culturists saw themselves as different from traditional gymnasts who performed militaristic exercises. 47 Volker Rodekamp, ed., Sport Schau: Ausstellung Deutsche Turnfeste 1860 bis 2002 (Leipzig: Stadtgeschichtliches Museum, 2002), 23. 48 For information on the Workers’ Olympiad of 1925, see Franz Nitsch, “ ‘Wir erlebten, wie Frieden sein kann’: Die I. Internationale Arbeiter-Olympiade 1925,” in Illustrierter Geschichte des Arbeitersports, 203–206. 49 See Frank Becker, “Die Sportlerin als Vorbild der ‘neuen Frau’: Versuche zur Umwertung der Geschlechterrollen in der Weimarer Republik,” Sozial- und Zeitgeschichte des Sports 8, no. 3 (1994): 34–55, and Erik Jensen, “Images of the Ideal: Sports, Gender,

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remained primarily a male activity. Although the German Gymnasts Association now embraced female membership and female participation in gymnastics festivals, its members remained predominantly male. In 1930 only 18% of the German Gymnasts Association members were female. Furthermore, men occupied almost all leadership positions, even those overseeing female gymnastics.50 Among bourgeois women who participated in sports, most were drawn to activities seen as acceptable for women, such as field hockey, an upper-class sport in Germany.51 Women continued to be welcomed in Arbeitersport in the Weimar Republic. Yet the predominantly male patterns of sports club membership and participation persisted, as women continued to face the double burden of caring for household and family while working full time. In fact, more than 60% of the women who joined working class sports associations were under the age of twenty and not yet wives and mothers. Estimates put the total female membership in both the bourgeois and working class sports movements at only 20% during the Weimar years.52 These low figures for female participation characterize sports clubs on the local level as well. Only 22% of the members of the Turn- und Sportverein Leipzig-Probstheida during the Weimar years were women, and the figure was only 10% for the Verein für Leibesübung Knautkleeberg.53 Despite the existence of separate middle-class and working-class sports organizations, leisure became less defined by social class in the Weimar years. As the working-class sports movement embraced competition, the original ideological distinctions between Arbeitersport and the middle-class sports movement faded. Furthermore, one’s social class did not always determine which sports club one joined. In 1929, the German Gymnasts Association had twice as many members as the ATSB, including many workers.54 Many leaders in workers’ sports were distressed that so many workers joined “bourgeois” sports clubs.55 Class lines also blurred in terms of sports spectatorship. During the Weimar years, sports events became huge mass spectacles, and members of and the Emergence of the Modern Body in Weimar Germany” (PhD Dissertation, University of Wisconsin, 2003). 50 Pfister, “Frauen auf Deutschen Turnfesten,” 81. 51 Pfister, “Demands, Realities, and Ambivalences,” 44. 52 Ibid., 43–44. 53 Adam, 263. 54 Ibid. 55 Krüger, “The German Way of Worker Sport,” 16; Adam, 267–68.

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every social class filled stadiums to watch cycling, soccer games, and boxing matches.56 Significant for the history of sports in the GDR were the tensions that emerged during the Weimar years between the ATSB, affiliated with the Social Democratic Party (SPD), and Rotsport (“red” or communist sport), affiliated with the growing German Communist Party (KPD). Relations within Arbeitersport thus paralleled larger tensions between the SPD and KPD in the late Weimar years. The unified Arbeitersport movement, embodied in the ATSB, began to splinter in 1928, when most of the large Arbeitersport organizations—in part to stay in good graces with Weimar authorities—voted to exclude members active in the KPD. The ATSB expelled 32,000 members between 1928 and 1932. In response, the communist athletes formed the Fighting Society for Red Sports Unity (Kampfgemeinschaft für rote Sporteinheit) as their new umbrella organization, and it grew to 113,542 members.57 The split between social democratic and communist sports organizations—a split driven more by political patronage than by different philosophies about sports—was not resolved before the onset of National Socialism. The Nazis took the politicization of leisure and sports to unprecedented heights, transforming community-based clubs into a highly centralized network of associations designed to train the master race for war. After the Nazis came to power in 1933, they began the process of coordination, whereby they centralized all arenas of associational life. Coordination had two significant effects on sports. First, it disbanded all Jewish and all working-class sports clubs (whether affiliated with the SPD or KPD) and expelled all Jewish members of integrated clubs. Second, it coordinated the remaining bourgeois clubs into a centralized sports organization and mandated paramilitary activities. On 2 June 1933 the Nazi Minister of Education formally banned Jews from youth, welfare, and gymnastics organizations and ended their access to all club facilities. By 1935 Jews found themselves excluded from all private and public practice fields. At the beginning of 1933 there had been 40,000 Jews (from a population of 535,000 Jews) in about 250 Jewish sports clubs, and many others in non-Jewish sports clubs. By 1935 the Nazis

56 For an analysis of boxing spectatorship, see Erik Jensen, “Crowd Control: Boxing Spectatorship and Social Order in Weimar Germany,” in Histories of Leisure, ed. Rudy Koshar (Oxford and New York: Berg, 2002), 79–101. 57 Zimmermann, 247–251.

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excluded Jews from all forms of organized sports in Germany.58 This was just one example of the “social death” that would precede the efforts to murder Jewish Germans once the war began.59 The Nazi leadership, viewing socialists and especially communists as dangerous enemies of the Nazi state, also disbanded both the ATSB and the Fighting Society for Red Sports Unity, just as it banned both the SPD and KPD parties and other working-class organizations. By 27 June 1933 the Nazis had completed their suppression of both socialist and communist Arbeitersport.60 The Nazis had thus dismantled some of the most fundamental organizations of working-class social life.61 Although some former Arbeitersportler continued to practice with their clubs and published illegal newsletters, the majority joined the bourgeois clubs or engaged in sports outside the organized club structure through “Strength through Joy,” the factory-based Nazi leisure organization.62 For example, Heinz Haferkorn, an East German sports functionary in the 1950s and 1960s in Leipzig, saw his club, the Turnverein Eiche Leipzig, disbanded, forcing him out of formal Arbeitersport. Yet he continued to play sports through “Strength through Joy,” as did many of his friends who had also belonged to working-class sports clubs before 1933.63 Although the Nazis allowed the bourgeois sports clubs to continue, they coordinated these clubs under central Nazi rule. Between May 1933 and November 1935 the Nazis disbanded both the German Association for Physical Education and the German Gymnasts Association and coordinated member clubs into the new, centralized German League for Physical Education (Deutscher Reichsbund für Leibesübungen), renamed the National Socialist League for Physical Education (Nationalsozialistischer Reichsbund für Leibesübungen [NSRL]) in 1938. Coordination 58 Mandell, 60. For more on the history of Jewish sports clubs and Jewish athletes in German history, see Eric Friedler, Makkabi chai—Makkabi lebt. Die jüdische Sportbewegung in Deutschland 1898–1998 (Vienna: Brandstätter, 1998); Gertrud Pfister and Toni Niewerth, “Jewish Women in Gymnastics and Sport in Germany 1898–1938,” Journal of Sport History 26, no. 2 (1999): 287–325; and Dietrich Schulze-Marmeling, ed. Davidstern und Lederball. Die Geschichte der Juden im deutschen und internationalen Fußball (Göttingen: Die Werkstatt, 2003). 59 For “social death,” see Marion Kaplan, Between Dignity and Despair: Jewish Life in Nazi Germany (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), 229. 60 See Krüger, “The German Way of Worker Sport,” 19. 61 Sportmuseum Leipzig-Dokumente, D 3799, “Der Untergang des “Arbeiterturnund Sportbundes.” 62 Krüger, “The German Way of Worker Sport,” 19. For more on “Strength through Joy,” particularly efforts to win over workers, see Baranowski. 63 Heinz Haferkorn, interview by Molly Wilkinson Johnson, Leipzig, Germany, 21 August 2000.

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required athletes to adopt the Hitler greeting and other Nazi rituals and symbols, to fly the Nazi flag on their club grounds, to incorporate folk dance and other German traditions into their activities, and to organize regular paramilitary exercises. However, all clubs kept their traditional club names, and the membership lists of the clubs remained more or less as they had been before 1933, with the exception of lost Jewish members and new working-class members. The essence of the bourgeois sports clubs remained intact.64 Gendered patterns of participation remained consistent with the pre-Nazi era, with far more male participants than female participants. In 1936 for example, 4,490,760 Germans were members of clubs belonging to the Nazi’s umbrella sports organization, 3,693,064 of them male and only 797,696 of them female. The Nazis also conceptualized participation in sports through the lens of gender. Women were to participate in physical activity such as gymnastics to make them healthy for child-bearing. Furthermore, women were to avoid an overly competitive approach to sports, choosing instead non-competitive exercises that promoted grace, flexibility, and beauty over the “masculinization” that competitive sports would unleash. Men, in contrast, were to participate in sports to make them better fit as soldiers.65 The Nazis sponsored highly aesthetic and politicized gymnastics and sports festivals. They organized large national sports festivals in Stuttgart in July 1933 and Breslau in 1938, featuring synchronized gymnastic exercises, athletic competitions, and elaborate opening and closing ceremonies.66 Most dramatic were the 1936 Olympic Games held in Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Berlin. The Nazi government removed many of the visible excesses of its anti-Semitism during the Games in order to avoid an international boycott. Yet they undermined the international spirit of the Olympics and used the Games to meet nationalistic ends by building upon the anticipation about the coming Olympics to mobilize German citizens. In the months preceding the Olympics, an Olympic Caravan made its way through Germany, moving from village to village. The Caravan stopped in each town for several days, set up 64 For information on the Nazi coordination of sport, see Hajo Bernett, Der Weg des Sports in die nationalsozialistische Diktatur: Die Entstehung des Deutschen (Nationalsozialistischen) Reichsbundes für Leibesübungen (Schorndorf: Hofmann, 1983). 65 Michaela Czech, Frauen und Sport im Nationalsozialistischen Deutschland: Eine Untersuchung zur weiblichen Sportrealität in einem patriarchalen Herrschaftssystem (Berlin: Verlagsgesellschaft Tischler GmbH, 1994), 44–58. 66 Sport Schau, 27–28; Lissinna, Nationale Sportfeste.

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portable museum exhibits on sports, and provided portable equipment for games and competitions. The Nazis also organized an Olympic Exhibition that traveled around the country.67 Olympic ceremonies featured one innovation that appealed to international sentiment and yet had domestic significance as well: for the first time, athletes ran the torch from the mountains of Greece to the Olympic host city of Berlin. This ritual highlighted the ancient roots of the modern Olympic Games, and served as a symbolic link to Classical Greece.68 Seen before this historical backdrop, the SED’s efforts to mobilize sports in the service of socialism clearly did not take place on virgin soil. Many East German citizens of the 1950s had been members of middle-class or working-class gymnastics and sports clubs during the Weimar years. Some were old enough to have played sports at the end of the nineteenth century. Moreover, many citizens had experienced Nazi-era sports, either as members of sports clubs or participants in “Strength through Joy” activities. Part of the challenge East German sports organizers encountered was to encourage these citizens to accept and participate in East Germany’s new sports clubs, while simultaneously mobilizing countless new citizens for sports. Training Socialist Citizens In addition to published brochures, pamphlets, journals, and books that reveal how the government presented its sports programs to the population, the following study builds on substantial archival research in the Bundesarchiv in Berlin, particularly the files of the Sports Division of the Central Committee of the SED, the State Committee for Physical Culture and Sports, the German Sports Association (Deutscher Sportausschuss), the German Gymnastics and Sports Federation (Deutscher Turn- und Sportbund ), and the Federation of Free German Trade Unions (Freier Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund ). Regional and local archives consulted include the Sächsisches Staatsarchiv Leipzig, Stadtarchiv Leipzig, Sportmuseum Leipzig, and Radsportmuseum Course de la Paix. Fortunately for the historian analyzing East Germany in the 1950s, archival files from that decade often feature striking openness about the failures as well as the successes of state plans. This stands in stark contrast to the 67 68

Mandell, 122–124. Ibid., 129–137. See also Keys, 134–157.

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later formulaic nature of archival records that reveal a government less optimistic about transforming society and focused instead on maintaining the status quo.69 This project also uses oral history interviews with twenty-one former East Germans as a key source of evidence about everyday life in East Germany. The interviewees played sports including track and field, cycling, artistic cycling (Kunstradfahren), soccer, gymnastics, field hockey, swimming, rowing, skiing, and volleyball in the late 1940s and 1950s. Some of these athletes achieved success at the regional and national level, but most participated in sports on the town, city, or county level. Assistance in locating these individuals was given by the staff at local museums and archives, at local sports offices, and through word-ofmouth recommendations. Oral interviews are not unmediated historical sources. The fragility of memory always shapes oral interview testimony, and this dynamic is particularly pronounced for former East German citizens in light of the economic and social challenges they have encountered since German reunification in 1990.70 Yet oral history interviews reveal substantial insights not available from official documents. Furthermore, an exclusive reliance upon archival documents and published sources presents as many problems as would an exclusive reliance upon oral history interview sources. This study balances archival and published sources against oral history interviews and oral history interviews against each other. Chapter One explores how the East German government sought to celebrate its sports programs and festivals as a continuation of the traditions of German history. The state taught the lessons of socialist patriotism, inclusiveness, and antifascism in sports festivals, newspapers,

69 Other scholars of the GDR make similar points. See Harsch, 17; Port 12, footnote 33; Mark Allinson, Politics and Popular Opinion in East Germany 1945–1968 (Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 2000), 9; and Corey Ross, Constructing Socialism at the Grass-Roots: The Transformation of East Germany, 1945–65 (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000), 184. 70 On the promises and pitfalls of oral history interviews with citizens of the former German Democatic Republic, see Dorothee Wierling, Geboren im Jahr Eins: Der Jahrgang 1949 in der DDR. Versuch einer Kollektivbiographie (Berlin: Christoph Links, 2002). Here Wierling expands on experience gathered in the joint interview project with Lutz Niethammer and Alexander von Plato, Die volkseigene Erfahrung: Eine Archäologie des Lebens in der Industrieprovinz der DDR (Berlin: Rowohlt, 1991). On the challenges of using oral interviews to study dictatorships and totalitarian states, see the essays in Luisa Passerini, ed. Memory and Totalitarianism (New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 2005).

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schools, and museums. Walter Ulbricht, Secretary General of the Socialist Unity Party, most closely embodied this historical narrative, as he had joined a working-class sports club in 1907, participated in antifascist resistance activities, and pioneered East German sports in the postwar period. While the government did celebrate German sports history, it also dismantled German historical traditions by explicitly rejecting the desires of citizens to resurrect their local clubs after the war. Instead, the government adopted centralized Soviet-modeled sports programs and organizations. Thus, the chapter introduces both the East German government’s efforts to claim continuity with German tradition and the Soviet Union’s powerful influence on everyday life in East Germany. The East German government’s use of democratic centralism and mass mobilization drives to encourage all citizens to engage in sports through its new enterprise sports clubs is the focus of Chapter Two. Sports participation, leaders believed, would improve work productivity, paramilitary skills, and socialist loyalty. The official Sports Medal that proclaimed its recipients “Prepared to Work and to Defend” was the cornerstone of state mass mobilization efforts. Ideally, after winning the sports medal, citizens would join enterprise sports clubs and devote their leisure time to sports. The chapter demonstrates that the state succeeded in attaining citizen compliance, not only by employing political and social pressure, but also by appealing to individual and community desires. Yet, the state’s efforts often reinforced individual and community identities rather than building new socialist identities. Thus, the chapter reveals both the success of state mass mobilization campaigns in forcing basic compliance, but also their limits in cultivating broader transformations. Chapter Three explores how citizens donated their leisure time to unpaid work on sports stadiums and facilities through state-orchestrated “voluntary work actions.” The government organized these voluntary work actions to counteract chronic financial shortages and to cultivate in its citizens an identification with the socialist collective and with state projects. The construction of the 100,000 seat Zentralstadion in Leipzig in 1955 and 1956, involving over 500,000 “voluntary hours,” was the government’s model voluntary work action. Most citizens also performed voluntary work on their local sports facilities. Complying with state expectations, citizens submitted reports to the authorities about their voluntary work, and the state then celebrated these voluntary efforts as evidence of growing collectivity and socialist loyalty. Yet, contrary to the state’s goals, individuals and communities often experienced pride in

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their own achievements and self-sufficiency as a result of their voluntary work, rather than heightened loyalty to socialism and the state. The socialist mass event, specifically the Gymnastics and Sports Festivals held in the city of Leipzig, is the focus of Chapter Four. The festivals included athletic competitions, synchronized gymnastics displays, placard sections with political slogans, and other cultural events. Designed to embody an idealized East German society defined by collectivity and discipline, these festivals were the center of multiyear, national mass mobilization campaigns, and they functioned as rituals of state. Underneath the choreographed perfection, however, the state encountered challenges in fostering discipline and unity, particularly among the festival participants during their unstructured time in Leipzig. Furthermore, citizens experienced frustration as well as enthusiasm at the festivals. For example, the sudden availability of rare food items such as butter, supplied by the government to heighten the festive atmosphere, instead drew attention to the scarcities of everyday life. The festivals thus embodied the GDR in ways that the state did not anticipate, by showcasing the potential of mass mobilization, but also by revealing the contrast between the choreographed mass event and everyday difficulties. Chapter Five investigates East Germany’s early international athletic successes, examining how these successes helped the GDR attain international legitimacy and how they encouraged patriotism among East German citizens. The Friedensfahrt was the first event in which East German athletes excelled as teams and as individuals. The East German team won in 1953, and individual cyclist Täve Schur won in 1955. The government used the Friedensfahrt to inspire patriotism and to promote socialist spectatorship through which citizens actively supported, rather than passively consumed, international sports competitions. School children wrote letters to cyclists, factory workers manufactured special prizes, and many citizens turned out en masse along the route to watch the race. The state also cultivated Schur as a socialist role model for East German citizens. The chapter demonstrates the Friedensfahrt to have been a key event in which the aspirations of the government and the enthusiasm of the citizens overlapped and reinforced each other. The popularity of the Friedensfahrt and its champion Täve Schur foreshadowed later decades in East Germany, when winning Olympic gold became its most successful international initiative. This study concludes by contrasting the 1950s to subsequent decades. The East German government’s increasing prioritization of Olympic

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sports in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s contributed to decreasing support for mass sports. The 1950s is thus the crucial decade for studying the East German government’s vision for mass sports: those first years of the new state reveal the optimism about transforming East Germans into new socialist citizens as well as the factors that led to an abandonment of that ambitious vision.

CHAPTER ONE

BETWEEN GERMAN TRADITION AND SOVIET HEGEMONY: THE POSTWAR RECONSTRUCTION OF SPORTS Since the early nineteenth century, the Turnverein or Sportverein, the local gymnastics or sports association, has been a fixture in Germany. Members of Vereine, whether middle class or working class, have taken pride in history and traditions. Even today, citizens of reunited Germany maintain private sports archives in their homes and celebrate the history of their Vereine in public. Hockey player Werner Holtzschke wrote a history of his hockey club, the Allgemeiner Turnverein zu Leipzig, for a 1995 Festschrift commemorating its 150th anniversary. Cyclist Heinz Rühlicke is writing a “Chronicle” of his artistic cycling (Kunstradfahren) club in Annaburg, consulting files from the city archive and from the private archives of fellow athletes. Other athletes display mementos of family sports history in their homes. Rower Horst Evers exhibits not only his own rowing trophies, won during the East German years, but also those of his father, who died in 1944 in World War Two.1 In the years after World War Two, the East German government and its Socialist Unity Party (SED) leaders hoped to establish East Germany’s historical legitimacy as a nation state by highlighting its origins in indigenous German traditions. Recognizing the significance of the German sports and gymnastics clubs to individuals and their communities, leaders built upon that history by promoting athletic activities and organizing sports clubs. They celebrated their work on behalf of sports as proof that the socialist East Germany cultivated the best German traditions. They hoped thereby to enhance the historical legitimacy of the new East German state and to disguise the reality that the government’s new

1 Werner Holtzschke, interview by Molly Wilkinson Johnson (hereafter author), Leipzig, Germany, 10 July 1999; Heinz Rühlicke, interview by author, Annaburg, Germany, 18 May 2005; Horst Evers and Gisela Evers, interview by author, Berlin, Germany, 28 May 2005. Holtzschke’s history of his Verein can be found in: Werner Holtzschke, “Hockey am Völkerschlachtdenkmal in Leipzig vom Wiederbeginn 1945 bis 1989,” in Festschrift: 150 Jahre Allgemeiner Turnverein zu Leipzig von 1845, e.V. (Leipzig: Messedruck Leipzig, 1996), 173–187.

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sports programs dismantled German sports traditions and introduced heavily centralized Soviet models in their place. As part of this official celebration of German sports history, the Committee for Physical Culture and Sports in Leipzig issued guidelines in October 1952 advising historians how to research and write the history of German sports in order to prepare a museum exhibit. This museum exhibit would celebrate how socialist East Germany, not West Germany, best carried forward the indigenous German traditions of gymnastics and sports. The Committee encouraged historians not only to consult archival records, but also to gather memorabilia from old Vereine, such as leaflets, newspapers, old flags, posters, and photographs. The guidelines also suggested that the historians talk to as many athletes as possible. The Committee particularly encouraged historians to seek out “the oldest athletes in villages and towns. . . . These old ‘sports friends’ will be able to report much and give us valuable information for our work.”2 By interviewing citizens and gathering and placing their mementos into a museum, the government intended to demonstrate that German traditions lived on in the new socialist East German state. The goal was to make the history of sports in Germany not an abstraction, but rather a tradition of which many individual citizens were a part. Beneath the surface of this celebration of tradition, however, lies a dynamic more complicated than a straightforward celebration of history. The guidelines for the historians reveal a carefully managed, state-mandated historical narrative. Old athletes were not to write the history of their Sportvereine or of German sports traditions themselves. Rather, they would provide evidence, examples, stories, and material artifacts. Then, professional historians would interweave these memories and artifacts into an official historical narrative carefully established by the SED.3 Thus, rather than inviting citizens to celebrate and continue their indigenous traditions, the government wanted to manage history, bringing all stories and evidence together into one pre-established,

2 Bundesarchiv-Berlin (hereafter BAB), DR 5 661, “Anleitung des Komitees für Körperkultur und Sport beim Rat des Bezirkes Leipzig, zur Unterstützung der Erforschung der Geschichte der Körperkultur,” 10 October 1952. 3 As Catherine Epstein illustrates in her study of the SED’s initiative to encourage old communists to write their autobiographies, individual memories often conflicted with official memory. See “The Production of ‘Official Memory’ in East Germany: Old Communists and the Dilemma of Memoir Writing,” Central European History 32, no. 2 (1999): 181. She elaborates on this argument in The Last Revolutionaries: German Communists and their Century (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003).

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official narrative, carefully crafted to create historical legitimacy for the new state of East Germany and to disguise the true origins of East German sports organizations in the Soviet Union. The East German state’s need for historical legitimacy as an authentic nation state, and not as a Stalinist puppet, drove this management of history. In the 1950s, leaders of the SED faced the enormous challenge of legitimating the young East German state in the eyes of the world, West Germany, and its own citizenry. Despite the pre-existing strength of socialism and communism in Germany, the presence of the Red Army in the Soviet Occupation Zone (Sowjetische Besatzungszone [SBZ]) following defeat in 1945 was fundamental to the establishment of the East German communist state. Many people, both East German citizens and outsiders, saw the GDR as illegitimate and artificial; they considered West Germany to be the true German state and East Germany a Stalinist puppet. This problem was even more pronounced in East Germany than it was in the other eastern European Soviet satellite states because, as historian Mary Fulbrook writes, East Germany was the only Soviet bloc country that faced the “lack of intrinsic legitimacy as a nation state.”4 The problem of the lack of legitimacy, compounded by socioeconomic problems, drove 2.7 million East Germans to flee to the West in the 1950s.5 Against this backdrop, SED leaders worked to highlight the historical origins of East German communism, to foreground indigenous traditions such as those of gymnastics and sports, and to depict communism as the culmination of all the progressive trends of German history. East Germany was not in dialogue only with German history and with the West German alternative as it built a new government, economy, society, and culture. The Soviet Union, and the relationships between East German leaders and the Soviet government, also played a pivotal role in shaping postwar East Germany, including the reconstruction of sports. Under Soviet influence, East German leaders, rather than continuing the pre-war German sports traditions, instead suppressed the living traditions of East German sports and introduced in their place heavily centralized, factory-based structures modeled on those

Mary Fulbrook, Anatomy of a Dictatorship: Inside the GDR, 1949–1989 (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), 4. 5 Eric Weitz, Creating German Communism, 1890–1990: From Popular Protests to Socialist State (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997), 357. 4

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developed in the Soviet Union in the 1930s.6 This paralleled the broader introduction of Soviet political, economic, social, and cultural models into East Germany, a result of both Soviet pressure and the relationships between Soviet leaders and East German leaders, many of whom had spent the war in exile in the Soviet Union.7 Thus, although East Germany constantly celebrated itself as the embodiment of the best trends of German history, it simultaneously dismantled at the local level the very traditions it celebrated. The study of East German engagements with history—in terms of both propaganda and everyday practice—reveals two crucial dynamics of East German political culture in the early years. The ambitious project of celebrating indigenous traditions—of mastering the past—served

6 Soviet conceptions of sport and physical culture in the 1920s had rejected competition and hierarchy as antithetical to socialism and embraced instead non-competitive “physical culture” including labor gymnastics, mass displays, and pageants. The early working-class sports movement in Germany also featured tensions between competitive sport and noncompetitive physical culture. See John M. Hoberman, Sport and Political Ideology (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1984), 170–189; Arnd Krüger, “The German Way of Worker Sport,” in The Story of Worker Sport, ed. Arnd Krüger and James Riordan (Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 1996), 1–25; James Riordan, “Worker Sport within a Worker State: The Soviet Union,” in The Story of Worker Sport, 43–65; and James Riordan, Sports, Politics, and Communism (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1991), 34–51. Stalin, however, embraced competitive sport, sought records, and cooperated with Western-led international sporting federations. With the exception of the factory sports clubs that were founded in 1926, the structures of Soviet sport exported to the Eastern bloc developed in the 1930s under Stalin and therefore openly embraced competition. Non-competitive physical culture continued in the Soviet Union, manifested particularly in elaborate physical culture parades, and was important in East Germany as well, most clearly typified by the synchronized gymnastics exercises at the Gymnastics and Sports Festivals. However, in both countries, non-competitive physical culture activities coexisted rather than competed with competitive sport. See Barbara Keys, Globalizing Sport: National Rivalry and International Community in the 1930s (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006), chapter 7, for more on the process by which the non-competitive physical culture of the 1920s evolved into the competitive focus of the 1930s. See also Hoberman, 190–200, and Riordan, Soviet Sport Background to the Olympics (New York: New York University Press, 1980), 33–35, 42–50. 7 For the Soviet influence on the Soviet Occupation Zone, see Norman Naimark, The Russians in Germany: A History of the Soviet Zone of Occupation, 1945–1949 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995); Gareth Pritchard, The Making of the GDR 1945–53: From Antifascism to Stalinism (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000), and Peter Grieder, “The Leadership of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany under Ulbricht,” in The Workers’ and Peasants’ State: Communism and Society in East Germany under Ulbricht, 1945–71, ed. Patrick Major and Jonathan Osmond (Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 2002), 22–40. John Connelly compares the Sovietization of higher education in the national contexts of East Germany, Poland, and Czechoslovakia in Captive University: The Sovietization of East German, Czech, and Polish Higher Education, 1945–1956 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000).

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in the 1950s as part of a struggle for legitimacy, and the presentation of an official history of sports and sports festivals through ritual, museum exhibits, and the activities of day-to-day life was a part of this project. Throughout the 1950s and beyond, the state frequently mobilized carefully constructed history and tradition as a way to promote citizen participation in sports, sports festivals, and many other East German public activities. Yet as the history of the Soviet Occupation Zone and early GDR demonstrates, leaders reconstructed sports in the aftermath of war not according to the tradition of Arbeitersport and the independent Verein, but rather through centralization and Sovietization. In fact, leaders of the SED explicitly rejected the efforts of former Arbeitersportler to restore their former clubs. In the end, state centralization, rather than the autonomous freedom of choice that characterized the history of German associations before 1933, determined opportunities for citizens to play sports. History Lessons: Socialist Patriotism, Inclusiveness, Antifascism The East German government did not create a neutral and dispassionate history of sports in its books, rituals, and displays. Rather it constructed an intentionally coordinated narrative that emphasized some facets of German sports history (the early Turner movement, Arbeitersport), while ignoring others (such as Weimar-era strife between socialist and communist athletes and the parallels between National Socialist and East German centralization). The government presented this carefully crafted historical narrative to East German citizens through education, museums, ritual, festivity, performance, and material culture. This reconstruction presented three essential messages to East German citizens. The first lesson was socialist patriotism, as opposed to Soviet-oriented socialist internationalism; socialist patriotism invited East Germans to honor and take pride in their German roots, which were purportedly best expressed in the new socialist state. The second lesson was that of inclusiveness, an effort to define the East German socialist state not only as the home of socialists and communists, but also of many members of the “bourgeoisie”; the inclusiveness approach also aimed to appeal to West and to East Germans. The final lesson was that of antifascism, proclaiming that East Germany broke with the Nazi legacy by using sports to pursue peace. The East German government argued that the West German state, in contrast, continued

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the National Socialist manipulation of sports in pursuit of militaristic and imperialistic ends. The cultivation of socialist patriotism, which SED Secretary General Walter Ulbricht emphasized in a speech at the Second Party conference in July 1952, was East Germany’s first goal in its historical writing on the gymnastics and sports tradition.8 Within months of Ulbricht’s speech, local city councils all over East Germany began sponsoring history projects to reconstruct the German roots of East German socialism. Emphasizing socialist patriotism allowed East German leaders to distance themselves from the significant influence the Soviet Union wielded over East Germany. It thereby helped the East German government’s search for domestic political legitimacy.9 SED leaders also realized that they needed to shake Weimar-era assumptions that communism opposed patriotism and to demonstrate instead that communism best expressed the true essence of the German nation.10 This project involved championing the German nation over the Soviet Union in historical mythology. The colossal German Gymnastics and Sports Festivals (Deutsche Turn- und Sportfeste) constituted a primary venue for the East German government’s presentation of socialist patriotism through historical narrative. These showcase festivals, held in the city of Leipzig, drew hundreds of thousands of participants and spectators. Reflecting the official stance of the East German government that German division was not permanent, festival organizers went to great lengths to attract West German as well as East German visitors to the festivals in the 1950s. Indeed, the three sports festivals in the 1950s—1954, 1956, and 1959—were simply known as “German Gymnastics and Sports Festivals,” only acquiring the moniker “of the GDR” in 1963. The “call to all German gymnasts and athletes” from the 1956 Festival Organizational Bureau called on German gymnasts and athletes “to

BAB, DR 5 661, “Anleitung,” 10 October 1952. In the 1950s, the East German government also used film to highlight East Germany’s roots in German history. See Joshua Feinstein, The Triumph of the Ordinary: Depictions of Daily Life in the East German Cinema, 1949–1989 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002), especially chapter 1. 10 Alan Nothnagle, Building the East German Myth: Historical Mythology and Youth Propaganda in the German Democratic Republic, 1945–1989 (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1999), 169. 8 9

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be united in their efforts to serve freedom and the fatherland.”11 The most successful effort to attract West Germans was in 1956, when West German visitors numbered 32,000, constituting a significant proportion of the total 100,000 participants.12 These numbers suggest that, just eleven years after the end of the war and the beginnings of German division, many Germans, both East and West, had not fully accepted their separation. Reflecting the importance of socialist patriotism, the rhetoric and rituals of the 1956 Gymnastics and Sports Festival highlighted the prioritization of German history over Soviet influence. Festival organizers published three Festschrifts and distributed them all over East Germany in conjunction with the festival. Only one short article out of all three Festschrifts focused on the Soviet influence on GDR sports, and then only indirectly, highlighting the “German-Russian Sports Agreement” of 1926/27 and emphasizing that in the socialist nation of the GDR, Germans and Soviets could successfully work together without barriers.13 The vast majority of articles in the three Festschrifts, however, focused on the festival’s many ceremonies, on sports competitions, on the history of sports in Germany, or on the history of the host city Leipzig.14 The opening ceremony for the 1956 Gymnastics and Sports Festival, and for the subsequent six Gymnastics and Sports Festivals held in Leipzig over the remaining years of the GDR, took place at the Battle of the Nations Memorial south of Leipzig. This gigantic patriotic monument, dedicated in 1913, honored the centennial anniversary of the victory of Prussian, Russian, and Austrian forces over Napoleonic forces at the Battle of Leipzig in 1813. The opening ceremony at the 1956 Festival mentioned that the Battle of Nations memorial could be interpreted as a monument to long-standing “German-Russian friendship.” How-

11 Bernhard Wilk, “Im Zeichen nationaler Zusammengehörigkeit: Vom I. zum II. Deutschen Turn- und Sportfest,” in Bilder und Dokumente aus der Deutschen Turn und Sportgeschichte, ed. Abteilung Sportpropaganda des Staatlichen Komitees für Körperkultur und Sport (Berlin: Staatliches Komitee für Körperkultur und Sport, 1956), 344–347. 12 Volker Rodekamp, ed. Sport Schau: Ausstellung Deutsche Turnfeste 1860 bis 2002 (Leipzig: Stadtgeschichtliches Museum, 2002), 32. 13 Festausschuss II. Deutsches Turn- und Sportfest Leipzig 1956, ed., Unser Gruss den deutschen Turnern und Sportlern: Festschrift II. Deutsches Turn- und Sportfest Leipzig 1956, Nr. 2 (Berlin: Sportverlag Berlin, 1956), 27–29. 14 This paralleled standard narratives published in history books. One such book discussed the brief “Sports Agreement,” but otherwise did not mention the Soviet Union, even in the many pages devoted to postwar sports. See Lothar Skorning, “Der deutsch-sowjetische Sportverkehr beginnt,” in Bilder und Dokumente, 165–175.

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ever, more prominently, the opening ceremony emphasized the Battle of Leipzig’s status as the start of the long-term campaign on behalf of German patriots, particularly the nineteenth-century gymnasts, for the unification of Germany. Festival planners clearly intended that the opening ceremony at the monument should inspire the Germans of the 1950s, from the West and from the East, who likewise longed for German unity.15 Thus, despite brief references to Russia and the USSR in the Festschrifts and opening ceremony, the history of Germany remained front and center. The Soviet Union shaped East German sports, but the historical narratives and festival culture that developed around East German sports were explicitly national in order to establish the indigenous roots of East German practices.16 East German sports officials also sought to surround their citizens with material culture from sports history, particularly in museum exhibits.17 Such exhibits continued the focus on socialist patriotism while also highlighting the lessons of inclusiveness and antifascism. An exhibit on “Physical Culture and Sports in the GDR,” held from 29 July until 9 September 1956 in Leipzig, coincided with that year’s Gymnastics and Sports Festival. The exhibit, authorized by the Central Committee of the SED, reflected the historical narrative that the SED hoped to present to the East German population and to West German visitors. Aimed at the general public, the exhibit focused extensively on the history of physical culture and sports in Germany and highlighted how East Germany carried forward these traditions in its organizations, rituals, and festivals. The predominant theme of the museum narrative was inclusiveness. Chiefly, the museum exhibit celebrated the broad concept of Arbeitersport rather than highlighting the divisions in working-class sports during the Weimar Republic between the social democratic Workers’ Gymnastics and Sports Federation (Arbeiter Turn- und Sportbund [ATSB]) 15 BAB DR 5 191, “Auswertung des II. Deutschen Turn- und Sportfestes 1956 in Leipzig,” 17–18. See Nothnagle, 180–186, for additional background on the GDR’s use of the Battle of the Nations Memorial to cultivate socialist patriotism. 16 Sports history books echoed this celebration of German traditions and also compared East German athletes in the late 1940s and early 1950s with the gymnasts of the early nineteenth century, emphasizing that both worked on behalf of German national unity. See Bernhard Wilk, “Der nationale Kampf der deutschen Sportler beginnt,” in Bilder und Dokumente, 298–300. 17 For more on East Germany’s use of museums to highlight official socialist narratives, see H. Glenn Penny III, “The Museum für Deutsche Geschichte and German National Identity,” Central European History 28, no. 3 (September 1995): 343–372.

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and communist Fighting Society for Red Sports Unity camps. The rooms on the tradition of Arbeitersport featured copies of old workingclass sports newspapers, pictures from the Workers’ Gymnastics and Sports Festival in Leipzig in 1922, and photographs of activities of German Arbeitersportler in both the Socialist Sport International and Red Sport International. Nowhere did the exhibit mention that the ATSB had expelled communists in the late 1920s, or that the ATSB and communist sports organizations had struggled over relations with the Soviet Union.18 By celebrating the general Arbeitersport, rather than only the communist sports movement, exhibit organizers emphasized unity and underplayed discord and disunity. They presented East Germany as the protector of all German working-class traditions, not only those that had been affiliated with communism. Sports history books took a similar approach, highlighting the revolutionary tradition of Arbeitersport that had begun under the Anti-Socialist Laws and grew to prominence in the Weimar Republic, when the movement organized the opening Workers’ Gymnastics and Sports Festival in Leipzig and became involved in International Workers’ Olympiads. Some books indicated briefly that socialist and communist athletes became divided in the late Weimar Republic, but the bulk of the narratives focused on the broad tradition of Arbeitersport.19 The museum exhibit’s celebration of the nineteenth-century gymnastics movement also reflected the inclusive nature of sports narratives. The exhibit praised the progressive spirit of Friedrich Ludwig Jahn, the founder of the nineteenth-century German Turnen movement, and the political activities of the German gymnasts in 1848 and featured objects such as a bust of Jahn, a pommel horse from the Jahn Museum, copies of Jahn’s many writings about fitness, and photographs and artistic depictions of nineteenth-century gymnastics festivals.20 By incorporating the tradition of German gymnastics, organizers invited GDR citizens who had not been affiliated with Arbeitersport but rather “bourgeois” gymnastics and sports clubs to declare themselves descendants in spirit of the progressive nineteenth-century German gymnasts. Thus, according to the narrative posited at the “Physical Culture and Sports in the

18 Sportmuseum Leipzig, Turnfest Archiv (hereafter SML-TSF-A), AOrgbDTSF II-1956, 4/2, “Drehbuch der Sportausstellung zum II. Deutschen Turn- und Sportfest in Leipzig,” 7 May 1956. 19 See, as examples, the many essays in Bilder und Dokumente. 20 SML-TSF-A, AOrgbDTSF II-1956, 4/2, “Drehbuch.”

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GDR” exhibit, almost everyone (with the exception of the most active Nazi) could look to the East German state as the protector of his or her own treasured associational traditions. The third lesson that the GDR’s museum exhibit presented was the centrality of antifascism.21 The “antifascist myth” was the foundational myth of the GDR. It explained Nazism as a product of imperialistcapitalism, highlighted Nazi crimes against communists, celebrated communist resistance, and hailed the GDR—led by antifascist communist resistance heroes—as a fundamental break with National Socialism. The “Physical Culture and Sports in the GDR” exhibit highlighted the antifascist spirit of communism by featuring quotations from famous communist athletes such as Ernst Thälmann, as well as a wall of honor with photographs of Thälmann and other working-class heroes who died fighting Nazism.22 East German sports history books also highlighted the resistance activities of the “red” athletes, including the formation of illegal groups and the publication of illegal writings. These books featured excerpts from the last letters of executed communist athletes as well as a list of the names of Arbeitersportler who were killed by the Nazis.23 A related aspect of East German antifascism was the assertion that fascism actually continued to define the political and athletic climate of postwar West Germany. East German publications pinpointed Carl Diem, who planned the 1936 “Nazi Olympics” and became chairman of the West German National Olympic Committee after the war, as the embodiment of the Nazi-West German link.24 Just as the lessons of socialist patriotism and inclusiveness highlighted German traditions and unity and downplayed Soviet influences and tensions, so did the lesson of antifascism feature both embellishment and erasure. This was typical of the state’s celebration of history and

21 For a general overview of antifascism in the GDR, see Nothnagle, 93–142; Jeffrey Herf, Divided Memory: The Nazi Past in the Two Germanys (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997), particularly chapter 2; Josie McLellan, Antifascism and Memory in East Germany: Remembering the International Brigades 1945–1989 (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), 1–13; and Benita Blessing, The Antifascist Classroom: Denazification in Soviet-occupied Germany, 1945–1949 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006). 22 SML-TSF-A, AOrgbDTSF II-1956, 4/2, “Drehbuch.” 23 Georg Wieczisk, “Sinnlose Opfer—unsterbliche Helden,” in Bilder und Dokumente, 256–272. 24 Günther Wonneberger, Die Körperkultur in Deutschland von 1945 bis 1961 (Berlin: Sportverlag Berlin, 1967), 62. For more on Diem’s role in the 1936 Olympics, as well as on his sporting career before 1933, see Richard Mandell, The Nazi Olympics, 2nd ed. (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1987).

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biography with the goal of establishing legitimacy. In the case of the antifascist myth, most communists were not, in fact, freedom fighters against fascism and instead spent the war in exile or as inmates of German jails or concentration camps. Furthermore, some of these communists functioned as Kapos, prison-guards who helped preserve order in the camps, rather than engaging in acts of resistance. Yet, East German historical accounts of the Nazi era only focused on heroic activities, extrapolating from those few examples to claim that all communists were resisters.25 Reflecting this narrative, the museum exhibit only highlighted athletic heroes such as Thälmann and Werner Seelenbinder, a famous wrestler and Olympic participant from 1936, embellishing their life stories as the embodiment of collective communist resistance.26 Such narratives did not acknowledge the many workers, including communists, who joined bourgeois clubs or participated in sports through the Nazi-organized “Strength through Joy” program after working-class clubs were disbanded in 1933. In addition to embellishment, official history also involved the erasure of certain elements of national history.27 The East German narrative “forgot” the fact that the Nazi state’s primary objective was creating the master race and that its primary victims were not communists but Jews and others defined as racially inferior. The wall of honor highlighted communist heroes, not Jewish victims.28 Reflecting that official historical narratives sought to reach both East and West German visitors, organizers of the 1956 Gymnastics and Sports Festival compiled a list of twelve of the comments that visitors to the museum exhibit on “Physical Culture and Sports in the GDR” inscribed in the official guestbook. Of the twelve selected comments, two were from East Germans, seven from West Germans, and

Epstein, “Official Memory,” 184–85. SML-TSF-A, AOrgbDTSF II-1956, 4/2, “Drehbuch.” 27 As Margarete Feinstein writes, “the process of identity construction involves not only remembering but also forgetting.” Margarete Feinstein, State Symbols: The Quest for Legitimacy in the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic, 1949–1959 (Boston and Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers, 2002), 6. 28 For more on how East German historical analysis often overlooked Jewish victims in the Holocaust, see Jeffrey Herf, Divided Memory, and Claudia Koonz, “Between Memory and Oblivion: Concentration Camps in German Memory,” in Commemorations: The Politics of National Identity, ed. John R. Gillis (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994), 258–280. Jürgen Danyel also analyzes historical interpretations of the Nazi era in the two postwar Germanies in Die geteilte Vergangenheit: Zum Umgang mit Nationalsozialismus und Widerstand in beiden deutschen Staaten (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1995). 25 26

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three from non-German visitors. One of the East German comments appears to be from a “veteran” athlete named Heinrich Wiessgerber of Potsdam. He wrote that “This exhibit is exceptional as the first of its kind and . . . it left a particularly strong impression on me, an old athlete.” Max Zentsch, the mayor of the East German city of Zittau, praised the exhibit for showing the visitors to the festival what extensive efforts the East German government made to promote sports; he recommended that the exhibit travel throughout East Germany. One of the West German visitors, Walter Ejle of Löffingen in Baden, echoed this sentiment. He expressed his disappointment that the “excellent” exhibit could not be displayed in West Germany. Other West German visitors admired the extensive East German support for sports that the exhibit demonstrated, including Klaus Kühn from Marl in Westfalen and a group of nine athletes visiting from Hof in Bavaria, who wrote that they were tremendously “surprised” by the extent of East German support for sports and would return home and express their enthusiasm for East Germany to others. Three athletes from Langendiebach near Frankfurt/Main even expressed a desire for a speedy reunification of East and West.29 Because these comments were selected by festival organizers and are uniformly positive, they cannot be interpreted as a representative sample of the spectrum of possible visitor responses. The chosen comments nonetheless indicate what organizers had hoped visitors from both East and West would take away from the exhibit—a recognition of how much East Germany did for sports. To complement the opening ceremony and the museum exhibit, festival organizers choreographed other spectacles at the 1956 festival to highlight socialist patriotism, inclusiveness, and antifascism. The Consecration of the Flags (Fahnenweihe) on the second night of the festival paid homage to the German legacy that East Germany ostensibly fulfilled at the festival. The 1956 ceremony featured over one thousand flags from the Turnen movement and the Arbeitersport movement, as well as numerous flags from East German sports clubs. Designed “to carry forward a prominent tradition in German gymnastics and sports,” the ceremony’s location in the old marketplace square in Leipzig rested on the precedent set at the 1863 German Gymnastics Festival in Leipzig, where a similar Consecration of the Flags took place on the same

29 SML-TSF-A, AOrgbDTSF II-1956, 4/2, “Urteile über die Ausstellung aus dem Gästebuch.”

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marketplace square. The Consecration thus honored the long tradition of sports in Leipzig, in this case the positive example of “bourgeois” gymnasts at the 1863 festival.30 Also at the 1956 festival, a group of senior citizen gymnasts (Altersturner) who had been active in sports during the Weimar Republic performed mass gymnastics exercises, led by the celebrated Arbeitersportler Georg Benedix, who celebrated his 80th birthday that very day.31 Benedix had helped organize the inaugural Workers’ Gymnastics and Sports Festival in Leipzig in 1922, at which he led a similar mass gymnastics display.32 Festival planners intended for Benedix’s gymnastics exercises to embody a direct relationship between the tradition of Arbeitersport—as represented in the bodies of Benedix and his fellow Altersturner—and the GDR’s own sports festivals and sports programs. The festival also featured a Sunday morning Parade of Athletes that showcased athletes carrying banners of famous historical figures such as Friedrich Ludwig Jahn. Benedix and the Altersturner marched carrying historical flags that were, according to the commentary on a documentary film, “even older than they were.”33 In an interview conducted in 2005, then fourteen-year-old Gerald Iser remembered that Walter Ulbricht honored the oldest athlete from Iser’s town of Wittenberg at the 1956 sports festival.34 Festival organizers also decorated the entire inner city of Leipzig— every park, every central square, even the train station—as an outdoor history museum. They elaborately adorned the old market square

BAB, DR 5 191, “Auswertung des II. Deutschen Turn und Sportfestes 1956 in Leipzig,” 18; Erich Riedeberger, “Ansprache zur Fahnenweihe am 3. August 1956,” Theorie und Praxis der Körperkultur (hereafter TPK ) 5 (September 1956): 676–677. 31 Sportmuseum Leipzig, Organisationsbüro für das II. Deutsche Turn- und Sportfest, Abt. Sportschau, ed., Technisches Merkblatt für die Teilnehmer an der Sportschau, II. Deutsches Turn und Sportfest (1956), 22; Festauschuss II. Deutsches Turn- und Sportfest, ed., So war es: Festschrift II. Deutsches Turn- und Sportfest Leipzig, August 1956, Nr. 3 (Berlin: Sportverlag Berlin, 1956), 60–62 (hereafter So war es). 32 Benedix’s biography was frequently celebrated in the GDR. See, for example, Sportmuseum Leipzig-Dokumente (hereafter SML-Dokumente), D 3892, “Georg Benedix: Nachruf des Bundesvorstandes des DTSB,” Sportecho am Mittwoch, February 25, 1970, 1. Benedix also wrote his own autobiography, though it was never published. See SML-Dokumente, D 3800, “Georg Benedix: Mein Lebenslauf im Stenogrammstil.” A description of the 16,000 gymnasts that Benedix led in a similar synchronized exercise at the 1922 Workers’ Gymnastics and Sports Festival can be found in: Festausschuss II. Deutsches Turn- und Sportfest, ed. An die Turner und Sportler ganz Deutschlands: Festschrift II. Deutsches Turn- und Sportfest Leipzig, August 1956, Nr. 1 (Berlin: Sportverlag Berlin, 1956), 7. 33 Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv, BCSP 2685, “4. August 1956.” 34 Gerald Iser, interview by author, Wittenberg, Germany, 17 May 2005. 30

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to highlight the role of gymnastics and sports in German history. Forty-four flags hung around the square for the entire duration of the festival, primarily from historic German gymnastics and sports clubs, both bourgeois and working-class. In addition to the display of flags, five groups of panels surrounded the square, each featuring texts and images from the history of sports in Germany. The first panel showed a picture of the dedication of the gymnastics field at the Hasenheide in 1811, where Friedrich Ludwig Jahn founded the Turnen movement. The second panel group featured a picture of Turner on the barricades in 1848/49, and the third panel group highlighted the parade in the old marketplace square at the 1863 German Gymnastics Festival in Leipzig. The fourth panel shifted in emphasis from the history of Turnen to the history of Arbeitersport, showing pictures from the mass gymnastics exercises of women and men at the Workers’ Gymnastics and Sports Festival in Leipzig in 1922. The final panel showcased an image of the fallen antifascist hero Werner Seelenbinder, along with excerpts of the letter he wrote from prison before his execution in 1944.35 These panels—illuminated at night—constituted a miniature museum that allowed each of the thousands of people who passed through the square each day, who might not have visited the “Physical Culture and Sports in the GDR” museum exhibit, to stop and learn about German sports history and its patriotic, inclusive, and antifascist character. GDR citizens also encountered the official SED narrative on the historical origins of East German sports at local celebrations and festivals. In October 1952, the SED organized nationwide celebrations for the one hundredth anniversary of the death of Friedrich Ludwig Jahn. Sports leaders established a museum in his home at FreyburgUnstrut, coordinated gymnastics demonstrations in Berlin and Leipzig, and encouraged every small town in East Germany to organize an entire week of festivities, consisting of parades, public lectures, and gymnastics displays.36 The government also issued a special postage

35 SML-TSF-A, AOrgbDTSF II-1956, 4/1, “Ausgestaltung und Massenmobilisation: Drehbuch zur Ausgestaltung zentraler Strassen und Plätze.” 36 BAB DR 5 671, “Abschlussbericht des zentralen Jahnorganisationsbüros über die Vorbereitung und Durchführung der ‘Jahnfestwoche’ vom 12. bis 19. Oktober in der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik.” For additional evidence on the government’s official historical interpretations of Jahn, see Karl-Heinz Lehmann, “Friedrich Ludwig Jahn—ein biographischer Abriss,” TPK 1 (September 1952): 29–32; Gerhard Lukas and Karl-Heinz Lehmann, “Friedrich Ludwig Jahn—ein grosser Patriot unseres Volkes,”

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stamp in honor of Father Jahn.37 Localities extended honors to sports veterans throughout the GDR during the Father Jahn Festival Week. Each of the twelve counties of the district of Leipzig honored one of its oldest Turner; the county of Grimma honored seventy-seven-year-old Otto Roeber, and the county of Geithain honored seventy-three-yearold Hermann Feldmann.38 Many sports clubs organized excursions to the famous sites of German sports history, among them Father Jahn’s home.39 Furthermore, leaders of youth organizations such as the Young Pioneers introduced the history of sports into their activities. The State Committee for Physical Culture and Sports and the leaders of the Young Pioneers organized an initiative to write a history of the proletarian children’s movement in Germany and to present findings to meetings of the Young Pioneers. The history of the Red Sports Pioneers—the youth wing of the Weimar-era communist Fighting Society for Red Sports Unity—was one of the focal points, and Young Pioneers invited former Red Sports Pioneers to their meetings to share inspiring stories. Officials instructed the Young Pioneers to sing two songs at the conclusion of such meetings, “Gymnasts Off to Battle” (Turner auf zur Streite), penned in 1844 and a classic song of the nineteenth-century gymnastics movement, and the “Fichte-Marsch,” a song from the Fichte Sportverein, the famous working-class sports club founded in Berlin in 1890 that later joined the communist Fighting Society for Red Sports Unity.40 Thus, although the focus on the Red Sports Pioneers clearly valorized communist sports, the inclusion of music from both the gymnastics movement and the Arbeitersport movement highlighted the inclusiveness and socialist patriotism of the East German state. Everyday sports and leisure culture, particularly that of hiking, highlighted the antifascist message as well. Some hostels were named after antifascist activists,

TPK 1 (October 1952): 1–14; Willi Schröder, “Warum beschäftigen wir uns mit Jahn?” TPK 1 ( July 1952): 26–28. 37 Feinstein, State Symbols, 226–227. 38 BAB, DR 5, 661. “Sekretariatsvorlage: Vorlage der vorgeschlagenen ältesten Turner des Bezirks Leipzig, die anlässlich der Jahn-Festwoche ausgezeichnet werden sollen,” Leipzig, 6 October 1952. 39 So war es, 39. 40 SML-Dokumente, D 4061, “Rote Sportpioniere sind immer bereit.”

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such as “Ernst Thälmann,” and nature trails guided hikers to sites of antifascist resistance.41 The emphasis on East Germany’s fulfillment of German sports traditions culminated in the celebration of Walter Ulbricht himself. Books, film, and newspapers trumpeted Ulbricht’s participation in Arbeitersport as a youth and celebrated how his political sensibilities and his commitment to sports unfolded hand-in-hand. One book, prepared by sports scholars and widely distributed, celebrated Ulbricht as a “Role Model, Teacher, and Friend of German Athletes” and emphasized Ulbricht’s own history as an athlete, featuring essays by numerous sports and gymnastics friends who participated in sports with him from 1907—when he joined Turnverein Eiche in Leipzig at age 14—through the 1930s. The book also featured photographs of him participating in Eiche activities, along with photographs highlighting his resistance to the Nazis and his cooperation with Soviet leaders during World War Two. Ulbricht’s history as a German and as an Arbeitersportler was thus clear, as was his staunch antifascism during the Nazi years.42 To demonstrate how Ulbricht worked to carry his vision of sports and politics to all of society, the book contains reprints of many of Ulbricht’s speeches about sports as well as essays celebrating his support of sports written by sports leaders, sports historians, and famous athletes. Photographs of him are featured throughout the book, showing him attending and participating in athletic activities, such as volleyball, skiing, rowing, and tennis; interacting with children playing sports; talking with elite athletes; participating in mass calisthenics at the 1959 Gymnastics and Sports Festival; greeting athletes; participating in planning meetings; and helping design athletic facilities. In one photograph, featuring a ceremony at the 1956 Gymnastics and Sports Festival, Ulbricht shook the hand of Georg Benedix. This photograph succinctly captured the main theme of the book: Walter Ulbricht, and by extension East Germany as a whole, recognized and carried forward the great traditions of German sports, as exemplified in the figure of

41 Scott Moranda, “East German Nature Tourism, 1945–1961: In Search of a Common Destination,” in Turizm: The Russian and East European Tourist under Capitalism and Socialism, ed. Anne E. Gorsuch and Diane P. Koenker (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2006), 274. 42 Günter Erbach, et al., ed. Sport frei: Walter Ulbricht, Vorbild, Lehrer und Freund der Deutschen Sportler (Berlin: Sportverlag Berlin, 1963).

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Benedix, to whom Ulbricht reached out his hand in a show of solidarity across generations and historical epochs.43 As the celebration of East Germany’s purported fulfillment of German sports history makes clear, the East German government emphasized at every opportunity that the GDR carried forward the best traditions of German history. Sports and sports festivals cultivated socialist patriotism, included as many Germans as possible by casting a wide net, and highlighted the antifascist roots of the GDR. SED Secretary General Walter Ulbricht himself embodied East Germany’s continuity with German sports history. Ironically, as the postwar reconstruction of sports in East Germany reveals, the GDR did not fulfill but instead destroyed the traditions of Arbeitersport and introduced centralized, Soviet-based organizations in their place. Dismantling German Sports Traditions in the Postwar Years Between 1945 and 1948, there was some debate about the future of sports in the Soviet zone, and both “bourgeois” athletes and Arbeitersportler demanded the restoration of their old clubs. Nonetheless, in the end, the new socialist government thwarted the grassroots efforts of former Arbeitersportler to restore their former clubs and adopted instead new, Soviet-influenced, factory-based clubs. This was most clear by 1948, with the creation of the German Sports Association (Deutscher Sportausschuss [DS]), and by 1949, with the increasing dominance of the enterprise sports clubs (Betriebssportgemeinschaften [ BSGs]). Thus, despite the emphasis on socialist patriotism rather than Soviet internationalism, the heavily centralized structures adopted in the Soviet Occupation Zone in the aftermath of World War Two drew on Soviet models rather than German traditions. The massive destruction of German cities and the disruptions of social life that the war and postwar chaos fostered formed the backdrop to debates about how to reorganize sports. At the end of World War Two, the infrastructure of German sports had crumbled. Sports 43 Ibid., 223. Additional images of Ulbricht supporting and participating in sports are ubiquitous in printed sources from the 1950s. Ulbricht’s presence at and frequent participation in athletic events were also remembered in one interview conducted in 2004. Lothar and Christa Finze both remembered seeing Walter Ulbricht skiing in the early 1950s, disagreeing about whether it was 1950 or 1951. Lothar Finze and Christa Finze, interview by author, Köthen, Germany, 10 July 2004.

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facilities lay in ruins after the end of the war. Of 416 gymnasiums in Berlin, 301 were completely destroyed in the war. Only three of twelve indoor swimming pools could be used. Berliners used sports facilities as emergency housing or as make-shift hospitals or ersatz gardens to feed the hungry.44 The same conditions applied in Chemnitz, later renamed Karl-Marx-Stadt, where people transformed outdoor tennis courts into temporary gardens.45 In the sixth city district of Leipzig, of twenty-three sports fields that predated the war, eleven were completely destroyed and three partially destroyed. Sixteen of twenty-six tennis courts were completely destroyed, with another three partially destroyed.46 Furthermore, many prewar athletes had died in the war, including 20% of the 780,000 members of the Nazi’s umbrella organization for sports, the National Socialist League for Physical Education (Nationalsozialistische Reichsbund für Leibesübungen [NSRL]). Countless Jewish athletes died in the Holocaust. Significant numbers of working-class athletes died during the war. Any number of sports clubs lost more than half of their adult male members. Many former Olympic and world-class athletes died, as did many leaders of the working-class sports movement. The GDR celebrated some of these fallen working-class athletes as antifascist freedom fighters, including Ernst Grube, the leader of the communist Fighting Society for Red Sports Unity; Werner Seelenbinder; and the mountain climber Kurt Schlosser.47 The German sports landscape not only suffered the loss of facilities and members but also the right to engage in self-organization, as the Allied Powers—the United States, the Soviet Union, France, and Great Britain—proceeded with denazification. Law Number 2 of the Allied Control Commission, issued on 10 October 1945, ordered the liquidation of all fascist organizations including the NSRL and disbanded all individual clubs that were members of the NSRL. In effect, this meant the dismantling of all sports clubs in Germany because, during the process of “coordination,” the Nazis disbanded all clubs or forced them

Wonneberger, 19. Peter Hähnel, interview by author, Chemnitz, Germany, 10 July 2004. 46 SML-Dokumente D 3661, “Kurze Aufzeichnungen über den Neuaufbau des Sportes nach 1945 im Stadtbezirk 6 in Leipzig.” 47 Wonneberger, 18–19. For articles published in the GDR highlighting these heroes, see Fritz Patzke, “Ernst Grube, ein Vorbild für alle deutschen Sportler,” TPK 3 (April 1954): 289–305, and Heinz Schlosser, “Kurt Schlosser—ein vorbildlicher Sportler und Kämpfer gegen Ausbeutung, Krieg und Faschismus,” TPK 3 (August 1954): 677–690. 44 45

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to join the NSRL. The Law applied to all occupation zones, not just the Soviet zone. Allied Control Commission Directive 23, released on 17 December 1945, took the further step of ordering that all athletic, military, or paramilitary organizations not already banned by Law Number 2 should be disbanded by 1 January 1946. In Allied eyes, the Nazis had organized sports in order to serve explicitly paramilitary ends; thus, denazification necessarily involved the dismantling of sports organizations as well as more blatantly political organizations. Directive 23 also helped shape the rebuilding of sports, explicitly banning sports such as shooting, flying, gliding, and parachuting, while permitting nonmilitary sports activities at the local level with the permission of the relevant occupation authorities. The combined effect of Law 2 and Directive 23 was to disband all of the prewar sports clubs and place all future sports activities under occupation authorities. In the Soviet Occupation Zone, which would become the German Democratic Republic in 1949, this meant that athletic activity could only take place with the permission of the Soviet Military Administration.48 The years between 1945 and 1948 became known as the era of “communal sports” in the Soviet Occupation Zone, when military leaders allowed sports only on the county and municipal level, forbade autonomous sports clubs, and placed all decision-making powers in the hands of the SED-dominated Sports Office. The Sports Office represented the appeals and interests of local athletes to the relevant authorities in the Soviet Military Administration, who carried the ultimate decision-making powers, thus allowing them a significant role in determining the framework of sports. The Soviets permitted sports organized by the Free German Youth (FDJ) (the Soviet-inspired Communist youth organization) and the Federation of Free German Trade Unions (FDGB) (the newly organized umbrella labor organization), as well as some communal sports clubs.49 As a result of the disbanding of all clubs, local sports officials began to centralize all sports equipment, facilities, and other assets in the hands of the municipal governments. This reflected the broader goal of constructing “people’s owned” enterprises (Volkseigene Betriebe [ VEBs]) and to centralize the “people’s property” (Volkseigentum). The municipal Wonneberger, 22–23; David Childs, “The German Democratic Republic,” in Sport under Communism: The U.S.S.R., Czechoslovakia, The G.D.R., China, Cuba, ed. James Riordan (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1978), 75. 49 Childs, 76. 48

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governments were, for the most part, controlled by the Communist Party (KPD) and later the SED, founded in 1946 when the KPD and Social Democratic Party (SPD) were forcibly joined together to form one united party. These were the only parties with the full support of the Soviet Military Administration, though other political parties such as the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) continued to exist. The municipal governments then redistributed equipment and facilities according to their wishes for the reconstruction of sports. In the city of Leipzig, the former sports clubs each had to turn over to the city council a list of equipment, facilities, and other property, indicating the financial value of all assets. The Rowing Club “Sturmvogel,” for example, submitted an inventory that detailed not only valuable equipment such as twenty-six boats and sculls, but also minor property such as mirrors, tablecloths, pillows, tables, and wine and beer glasses.50 The centralization of resources did not always move forward smoothly. Alfred Volkert, a sports functionary in Leipzig and veteran of the Weimar communist sports movement, noted the many challenges involved in collecting information on sports clubs and in claiming such equipment as property of the city government. For example, many citizens hid materials and equipment in their homes. Volkert had to enlist police support to enter the restaurant “Zur Börse” to collect the equipment of the Allgemeiner Turnverein Schleussig.51 Even as municipal governments centralized club property, individual Germans found ways to play sports. Werner Holtschke remembered playing sports with friends and classmates in the small town of Niesky in 1946; they predominantly chose to organize track events “because it was possible without equipment.” Hurdler Peter Hähnel, just six years old at the end of the war, also played street soccer (Strassenfussball ) with other neighborhood children, mentioning that the children had to use a roll of fabric because no regular soccer balls were available. Gerald Iser likewise recalled playing street soccer with older children after the war, emphasizing the creativity of children in finding something to do with their free time. Iser also swam in the Elbe River in the postwar years. Soccer player Dieter Stellmacher, six years old at the end of the war, also mentioned playing street soccer in Wittenberg for entire

Stadtarchiv Leipzig, StVuR (I) 10756, Bl. 5–15. SML-Dokumente, D 3661, “Kurze Aufzeichnungen über den Neuaufbau des Sports nach 1945 im Stadtbezirk 6 in Leipzig.” 50

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afternoons; because soccer balls were so hard to come by, children often played with tennis balls. He also swam in the Elbe River.52 The SED, the dominant force in the Soviet Occupation Zone, responded to the grassroots interest in athletics by sponsoring sports competitions such as the Saxon Sports Days in August 1946. This event included athletes from Dresden, Leipzig, Chemnitz, Zwickau, and Bautzen. Because sports competitions outside the locality required special permission from occupation officials, large events like the Saxon Sports Days were rare. The Soviet Military Administration authorized the competitions, the SED and the Saxon Press sponsored them, and the Sports Days functioned to promote the SED for the fall local elections.53 Spectators and participants received the official program for the Saxon Sports Days, listing the schedule of events and featuring an SED campaign slogan at the bottom of each page. Slogans included “More free time for working youth, joy, happiness, and relaxation. Vote SED”; “Only the complete elimination of militarism enables the peaceful development of sports. Vote SED”; and “The SED and Sports are intimately connected, as these Sports Days demonstrate.”54 The SED-sponsored Saxon Sports Days highlighted the substantial privileges enjoyed by the SED in influencing the direction of sports in a context in which sports events required approval by the Soviet Military Administration. The Saxon Sports Days also foreshadowed the ultimate power the Soviet-supported SED would have in rejecting the reestablishment of traditional sports associations in favor of a factory-based, centralized, Soviet model. Despite SED influence over the Saxon Sports Days, non-SED groups also proposed models for the reorganization of sports between 1945 and 1948. Members of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in the Soviet Occupation Zone, with the support of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), strongly resisted the centralization of sports and functioned as the most prominent advocates for a non-Sovietized reconstruction of

52 Holtzschke, interview; Hähnel, interview; Iser, interview; Dieter Stellmacher, interview by author, Göttingen, Germany, 26 May 2005. 53 Eric Weitz writes that the SED, because of its extensive support from the Soviet Military Administration, was able to influence substantially the outcome of the elections held in the autumn of 1946 for representatives at the local, county, and state level. The Soviet Military Administration often harassed other parties and made it difficult for them to find paper, gain access to airwaves, and hold demonstrations. See Weitz, 334–336. 54 SML-Dokumente, D 3664, “Sächsische Sporttage 1946.”

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sports.55 In the spring of 1947, the LDP urged the Leipzig city council to authorize the readmission of all Sportvereine that practiced permitted, non-militaristic sports. At a meeting on 14 May 1947, the city council openly debated the proposal. The LDP, claiming to speak on behalf of free associational life in general, wanted to reintroduce both bourgeois and workers’ Vereine.56 The Liberal Democratic Party first argued that sports were apolitical by nature and should remain so. Representatives from the LDP worried that the SED would organize sports just as politically as the Nazis had done. To the LDP, people joined sports clubs out of the sporting spirit (Sportgeist) and to enjoy association with their friends, not to pursue political ends. Herr Rothe, the chief spokesperson, argued: “We take the position that politics and sports are mutually exclusive, not that . . . we should be told: when one plays sports, one is simultaneously playing politics.” Rothe then emphasized that people play sports not for political reasons, but rather “out of an interest in physical culture, physical movement, and health.” Another LDP spokesperson, Herr Kiemeyer, emphasized that sports associations should be apolitical, “where one will not be asked, are you a member of the Liberal Democratic Party or the SED, but rather, are you a talented athlete, do you have abilities?” The LDP also argued that the freedom of the individual, the bedrock of classic liberal ideology, should remain the fundamental cornerstone of society. The reestablishment of the autonomous independent Verein, purely voluntary in nature, was crucial to this end. The LDP feared that the SED, committed to a collectivist worldview, would reject the autonomy and associational freedom of the individual in order to 55 The LDP and CDU would continue to exist until the demise of the GDR, although neutralized by two parties introduced and controlled by the state, the German Farmer’s Party and the National Democratic Party. All four non-SED parties formed a statemandated “national front” that supported SED policy. Thus, despite the appearance of political pluralism, the arrangement ensured SED control. Hermann Weber, Die DDR: 1945–1990 (Munich: Oldenbourg, 1993), 23, 29. 56 All quotations and references in the following discussion, including arguments from both the Liberal Democratic Party and the SED, are drawn from SML-Dokumente, D 3668, “Beschlussfassung zum Antrag der LDP betreffend Wiederzulassung von Sportvereinen,” 14 May 1947. Hans Joachim Teichler notes that many residents of the SBZ preferred the “Vereinsprinzip” for the organization of sport, and that Wilhelm Pieck, the GDR’s President, was aware of this preference. See “Die SED und der Sport,” in Die Sportbeschlüsse des Politbüros: Eine Studie zum Verhältnis von SED und Sport mit einem Gesamtverzeichnis und einer Dokumentation ausgewählter Beschlüsse, ed. Hans Joachim Teichler (Cologne: Sport und Buch Strauss, 2002), 32.

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pursue its collective ambitions. According to Herr Liebold: “We have the feeling that the goal today is, in every aspect of life, to replace the individual person with the collective, and that would be contradictory to human dignity, to the freedom of the individual. . . . We want nothing more than that the individual will once again be free of constriction and will be able to go where he wants to go. . . .” Concern about state interference reflected the third concern of the Liberal Democratic Party. Members of the LDP were tired of bureaucratic control after the years of the Third Reich and did not wish to see the leadership of the Soviet Occupation Zone continue in this direction. Thus the reestablishment of the independent Sportvereine was of fundamental importance. Some of these comments employed strong language that accused the SED of wanting to continue the tradition of the Nazis. Herr Liebold argued that, “The individual wants, after these horrifying twelve years, to escape bureaucratic proscriptions, to escape from subordination, to escape from the Commando. He wants to establish his life for himself, built upon the foundation of humanity.” Representative Herr Kiemeyer used even stronger language: “We are all sick of this bureaucratic constriction. . . . We have had enough of it! We lived for twelve years under constriction, under force, we lost the war and we must pay for that, but we will not voluntarily do more than is necessary.” The SED responses to the Liberal Democratic proposal not only differed on how to structure sports, but also reflected a fundamentally different conception of the place of the individual in society and of the social and political function of associations. Denying that sports were fundamentally apolitical, Herr Nothnagel of the SED emphasized that many gymnastics and sports clubs had been extremely militaristic. He argued that their greatest crime was, perhaps, not their actual practices, but rather their failure to resist National Socialist militarization of sports. Nothnagel argued, “As a representative not only of the SED, but also the Free German Youth and the Federation of Free German Trade Unions, I will never support the existence of such Vereine who failed so horribly, and who carried through such physical training.” Nor did the SED accept that the reestablishment of the autonomous Verein and the centrality of the individual were key to restoring postfascist normalcy. Riedel accused the LDP of being nostalgic: “We are too hung up on traditions, on memories, on what we once had. And because of that, many people believe that it is only possible to rebuild sports through the old Vereine.” Furthermore, he argued, the Vereine only

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mattered to older people: “To the youth, it does not matter at all in what form they play sports; the most important thing is that they have the possibility to play sports at all.” Such disregard for traditions foreshadowed the GDR’s disingenuous celebration of indigenous tradition in its Gymnastics and Sports Festivals and in its schools; both efforts were propagandistic, not rooted in a genuine commitment to honor the German past. Most significantly, SED representatives argued that sports were political and should be political. SED member Herr Pohling, a former member of an Arbeitersportverein that the Nazi government shut down in 1933, rejected the claim of the Liberal Democratic Party that the restoration of both bourgeois and workers’ clubs was key to the restoration of civil society. Pohling argued that it would be impossible to restore the old Vereine, to reclaim their property, and to reverse the chaos that had ensued since 1933. Moreover, he argued that even if the old Arbeitervereine could be restored, they should not be, as German sports should move in a new, distinctly political direction, in which sports would help contribute to a new social order: “We no longer want workers’ sports clubs, we no longer want those clubs of which you speak, in which sports and politics must be separate. We do not support the political abstinence of sports clubs to the point that they forget their economic and political interests and become alienated from their interests. We consciously want—and I say this very openly—for sports in the future to be filled with a specific political spirit.” Pohling went to the core of the debate over GDR sports, arguing that sports were inherently political and reflective of the socioeconomic conditions that underpinned them. Thus, West German claims to promote apolitical sports were deceptive, because West German sports actually promoted an imperialist-fascist order. In contrast, East German sports promoted peace. This idea that all of social life is ultimately based on economic and political conditions rested in the concept of partisanship (Parteilichkeit) whereby all spheres of life under socialism should reflect the political ideals and policies of the SED Party. Thus, sports should be political and should support socialism.57 In the end, the proposal of the Liberal Democratic Party passed by a vote of forty-four to forty, largely because of the support of the Christian

57 For more on Parteilichkeit, including “partisanship” as a translation, see Nothnagle, 15–19.

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Democratic Union. The chairman of the city council filed a report on 24 June 1947 with Major Stepanov at the headquarters of the Soviet Military Administration, noting the acceptance of the proposal by the city council and requesting that the Soviet Military Administration adopt the proposal.58 The Soviet Military Administration apparently rejected the request, though the documentation is unavailable. On 9 December 1947, the LDP—refusing to abandon its proposal—responded with a second letter to the Constitutional Commission asking for permission to build its own Committee for Physical Education.59 What the LDP did not realize was that the SED Party was already moving to centralize sports on a Soviet model. An official broke the news to the LDP on 18 October 1948, stating that the SED had authorized the foundation of the Soviet-inspired German Sports Association (Deutscher Sportausschuss [DS]), which would oversee sports along with the Free German Youth (FDJ) and Federation of Free German Trade Unions (FDGB). The LDP’s petition was therefore “pointless.”60 The founding of the DS signified the turning point in the postwar reconstruction of sports, after which open debate disappeared. The independent model of associational life that had developed alongside German liberalism disappeared at the same time. Henceforth, centralized sports structures borrowed from the Soviet Union would organize sports in East Germany. The creation of the centralized DS was not, however, a foregone conclusion. The SED had in fact experienced some internal conflict over proposals to centralize sports. One prominent SED leader charged with overseeing sports, Reinhard Hellwig, made no secret of his preference for the revival of the independent Verein tradition. In particular, SED members that had been members of the SPD before the forced unification of the KPD and SPD in 1946, or who had been Arbeitersportler in the 1920s, resisted centralization and favored independent Vereine.61 Yet the Stalinization process within the SED in the second half of 1948, which created a party of a “new type” and purged dissident voices, sealed the fate of alternative proposals and mandated centralized,

58 SML-Dokumente, D 3689, Letter to “Zentralkommandantur Herrn Major Stepanow,” 24 June 1947. 59 SML-Dokumente, D 3685, Letter from LDP to “Rechts- und Verfassungsausschuss,” 9 December 1947. 60 SML-Dokumente, D 3686, “Aktennotiz,” 18 October 1948. 61 Teichler, 27, 32–33.

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Sovietized solutions. In his study of the SED from 1946 to 1973, historian Peter Grieder emphasizes the 1948 reforms as signaling the end of possibilities for a parliamentary democracy and the victory of the SED as a “highly centralized, hierarchical organization.” Grieder emphasizes that this process was not just an internal Stalinization of the party, but that it also transformed the SED into a “hegemonic elite dominating all other institutions.”62 Indeed, as historian Hans Joachim Teichler writes, these reforms, in transforming the GDR into a “People’s Democracy,” made “an independent sports movement . . . unthinkable. Political control was the highest priority.”63 The victory of centralization and hierarchy over the independent Verein tradition was nowhere more clear than in the response of the government to the call, in the form of an open letter, of a group of Arbeitersportler from the former communist Fighting Society for Red Sports Unity to rebuild sports and restart their former clubs. Whereas the LDP represented a primarily liberal “bourgeois” viewpoint, these Arbeitersportler were the very individuals whom the government’s public spectacles always celebrated. The open letter written in June of 1945 featured prominently in East German historical accounts and sports and educational publications. The letter called for former Arbeitersportler and antifascists to join together to form a new sports movement that would be free of military and Nazi influence, founded and run on democratic principles, committed to forming a physically and mentally healthy population, devoted to the peaceful rebuilding of Germany, committed to the fight for peace, and supportive of all forms of antifascism. The official version of the letter concluded with a call for “unbreakable unity.”64 Celebrated Arbeitersportler such as Bruno Plache, Erich Quade, 62 Grieder, 22. For more on the failed efforts for a “German path to socialism” and a “third way,” see Weitz, chapter 9. See also Pritchard, The Making of the GDR, for an account of the ambivalence of many socialists and communists active before and during the war to Stalinization in the period from 1945 to 1953, and Epstein, The Last Revolutionaries, for insights into how many active communists were disciplined and sometimes purged by SED leaders. The Volkspolizei experienced restructuring and Sovietization at the same time. See Richard Bessel, “The People’s Police and the People in Ulbricht’s Germany” in The Workers’ and Peasants’ State, 64–65. 63 Teichler, 39. 64 The official version of the letter can be found in Wonneberger, 21, and in Bernhard Wilk, “In der Sowjetischen Besatzungszone: Für eine antifaschistische-demokratische Volkssportbewegung,” in Bilder und Dokumente, 280. Hans Nicklaus briefly discusses the role of Arbeitersportler from Leipzig in the reconstruction of sports, as well as the attention these athletes received in official historical narratives, in Vom Kommunalsport zum Deutschen Sportauschuss (Schorndorf: Hofmann, 1982), 51–52.

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and Paul Kloss signed the letter. East German publications featured this letter as evidence that East Germany’s centralization of sports followed upon the direct initiative of Arbeitersportler already active in sports during the Weimar Republic. This narrative thus highlighted the indigenous roots of GDR sports and presented centralization—“unbreakable unity”—as an idea suggested by German Arbeitersportler, not Soviet military occupiers. In reality, however, the very Arbeitersportler who wrote the open letter had a vision for the restoration of sports that was different from the one that was eventually adopted by the government. Chiefly, the former Arbeitersportler—similar to the Liberal Democratic Party in Leipzig— hoped for a renewal of their old sports clubs. Although the East German history books accurately quoted the call of the Arbeitersportler for the building of antifascist sports, they eliminated other suggestions from the record, particularly those that did not square with the Party’s vision for centralized sports. Most significantly, historians concealed the desire of the Arbeitersportler to bring their former clubs, which had been disbanded by the Nazis, back to life. Yet the open letter of the Arbeitersportler had expressed great pride in their history and had explicitly suggested that the heart of the new antifascist sports movement should be those very clubs that the Nazis disbanded in 1933. The letter concluded with a call for the “reestablishment of the proud workers’ sports clubs and the proud Fighting Society for Red Sports Unity in a united and antifascist sports organization.”65 Party-sponsored histories eliminated the desire of the Arbeitersportler to reestablish their own clubs because the SED leaders had no intention of reinstating these clubs. Rather, the SED planned to make a new start for sports based on a centralized model developed in the Soviet Union. As East German sports historian Günter Wonneberger emphasized in his history of the rebuilding of East German sports, a history that included the edited version of the Arbeitersportler letter, “Not the ‘rebuilding of sports’—in other words the reestablishment of the old, surviving relations—but rather the construction of a fundamentally new path for sports . . . was the order of the day.”66 There was no place

65 SML-Dokumente, D 3636, “Offener Brief an die Sportgenossen der ehemaligen Führungsorgane der Arbeitersportverbände.” 66 Wonneberger, 24.

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within the SED’s vision for the revival of any old sports clubs, whether bourgeois or working-class. Another key indicator of the demise of the independent Sportverein came with the founding of new enterprise-based sports clubs (Betriebssportgemeinschaften [BSGs]), first introduced by the FDGB in 1948 and instituted comprehensively in 1949. The BSGs were modeled on enterprise sports clubs in the Soviet Union. Signaling the total break with associational tradition that the BSGs represented, the SED explicitly mandated that new names be used for the BSGs. SED guidelines issued in May 1948 stated, “Names along the lines of the old Sportverein tradition are not permitted.”67 The SED did not wish to remind citizens in any way of the independent associations that predated the GDR. In August 1948, the SED further put its stamp on sports by introducing the requirement that all sports clubs register with the appropriate Ministry of the Interior for their region. The SED simultaneously forbade citizens to participate in unregistered sports clubs.68 Despite the SED’s celebration of the German tradition of Arbeitersport, its revised version of the June 1945 open letter demonstrates that the SED’s praise of the Arbeitersport tradition remained rhetorical; the SED had no intention of allowing the former Arbeitersport clubs to reemerge, whether socialist or communist. The SED intended to have citizens, and especially workers, identify with the organizations of the new socialist state, not with organizations that appealed to preexisting identities.69 Historian Eric Weitz emphasizes that the SED was transitioning from a party of opposition—wherein organizations such as the Arbeitersport clubs performed an important mobilizing function for workers—to a party of order in which workers should be at one with the state, not involved in autonomous organizations such as trade unions or sports clubs that might threaten the new political order. As Weitz writes, “the transition from party-movement to party-state impelled the SED to unload a number of the time-honored practices of German commu-

67 Stiftung Archiv der Parteien und Massenorganisationen der DDR im Bundesarchiv (hereafter SAPMO-BArch), DY 30 IV/2/18/3, “Richtlinien zum Aufbau einer einheitlichen Sportbewegung.” See also Teichler, 38. 68 Teichler, 38, 43. See also Giselher Spitzer, Sicherungsvorgang Sport: Das Ministerium für Staatssicherheit und der DDR-Spitzensport (Schorndorf: Hofmann, 2005), 58. 69 Scott Moranda demonstrates that the East German government similarly disbanded the “Friends of Nature” socialist hiking group, bringing hiking first under a somewhat autonomous organization known as the Ferien- und Wanderwerk but eventually placing hiking under the control of sports officials. See Moranda, 272.

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nism.”70 Indeed, as the reconstruction of sports revealed, East German communism suppressed the very working-class traditions that had given it momentum and that it claimed to follow. Importing the Soviet Model As the LDP in Leipzig learned in October 1948, the founding of the German Sports Association (DS) represented the demise of the German associational sports traditions and the introduction of centralized, Soviet-modeled structures into the Soviet Occupation Zone.71 The DS was one of the many socialist mass organizations created in the early years of the GDR in a series of steps that replaced the associational autonomy of the pre-Nazi years with centralized, unified, state-led organizations. GDR leadership considered these “socialist mass organizations” to be fundamentally different from the independent Vereine of German history and as more desirable for mobilizing the population around state goals.72 The introduction of the aforementioned enterprise sports clubs (BSGs) in 1948 signaled most directly the victory of the Soviet sports model for East Germany. That sports would be organized through the enterprise was consistent with the broader social and political significance of the enterprise in the GDR, which replaced the neighborhood as the social Weitz, 358. The following details about the organization of East German sports are drawn from: Teichler, 23–66; Childs, 76–80; Wonneberger, 35–43 and 82–98; Peter Kühnst, Der missbrauchte Sport: Die politische Instrumentalisierung des Sports in der SBZ und DDR 1945–1957 (Cologne: Verlag Wissenschaft und Politik, 1982), and Andreas Herbst, “Deutscher Turn- und Sportbund der DDR (DTSB)” in Die Parteien und Organisationen der DDR: Ein Handbuch, ed. Gerd-Rüdiger Stephan, et al. (Berlin: Dietz, 2002), 637–657. For a regional case study, see Klaus Gallinat, Der Aufbau und die Entwicklung von Körperkultur und Sport in der SBZ/DDR am Beispiel regionaler Entwicklungen im Land Brandenburg (Mai 1945–Juli 1952) (Frankfurt am Main: Lang, 1997). A general overview of the sporting structures in the Soviet Union can be found in James Riordan, “The USSR,” in Sport under Communism, 13–53, and Riordan, Sports, Politics, and Communism, 64–74. For an analysis of the specific influence of the Soviet Union on the development of sporting structures in the GDR, see Kühnst, 35–42, and Riordan, Sports, Politics, and Communism, 1–8. The latter details specifically how Soviet structures, down to their very names, were “imposed upon” all Eastern bloc countries between 1945 and 1949. Indigenous traditions were also suppressed in Poland and Czechoslovakia, including Sokol gymnastics, a movement similar to the Turnen movement in Germany. 72 For more on this transition from “Verbändepluralismus” to “Massenorganisationen,” see Ulrich Mählert, “Die Massenorganisationen im politischen System der DDR,” in Die Parteien und Organisationen der DDR, 103–115. 70 71

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center of professional and personal life. People worked in the enterprise, joined the SED and socialist mass organizations through the enterprise, put their children in enterprise child care centers, acquired vacation slots through their enterprises, and participated in social and cultural activities—including sports—through their enterprises.73 Every enterprise in the GDR had to sponsor a BSG and to contribute a specific portion of its operating budget to fund its activities. Individual enterprises also appointed employees to organize sports. If an enterprise was too small to have its own BSG, it made financial contributions to the BSG of another local enterprise. Likewise, every sports club in the GDR had to be sponsored by an enterprise. If a sports club formed in a neighborhood, it had to seek out enterprise sponsorship and become a BSG of that enterprise.74 Ideally, each GDR citizen belonged to a BSG tied to his or her place of work or to that of a family member. Thus, for many citizens, sports were tied to the workplace. The workplace was to be the basis for sports and leisure activities in the GDR, rather than the neighborhood, political affiliation, or social circle. The sports club BSG Einheit Zentrum Leipzig operated as a typical BSG. Known as Allgemeiner Turnverein zu Leipzig (ATV-Leipzig) from 1845 until the GDR years, and again since 1990, it operated during the GDR years as BSG Einheit Zentrum with VEB Erzprojekt Leipzig as its sponsoring enterprise. Werner Holtzschke worked in VEB Erzprojekt Leipzig as a mining engineer and also played field hockey for the BSG. He often functioned as a liaison between enterprise and BSG and sought to ensure that all employees of VEB Erzproject Leipzig chose to participate in BSG Einheit Zentrum if they played sports. BSG Einheit Zentrum Leipzig had thirty-three sponsors. One of its smaller sponsors was the cemetery located near the sports facilities, which contributed 30 DM a year to the BSG.75 In 1950, the SED took a further step towards centralization by authorizing Sports Associations (Sportvereinigungen [SVs]) for each of the eighteen industrial branches of the GDR. These SVs all followed 73 Martin Kohli, “Die DDR als Arbeitsgesellschaft? Arbeit, Lebenslauf und soziale Differenzierung,” Soziale Geschichte der DDR, ed. Hartmut Kaelbe, Jürgen Kocka, and Hartmut Zwahr (Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1994), 42–43. 74 SML-Dokumente, D 4249, Beilage ‘Sportorganisator’ Nr. 13/1952, Gerhard Wenzel, “Die Förderung des Sportes in den sozialistischen Betrieben durch die Gewerkschaften.” 75 Holtzschke, interview. For a full history of ATV Leipzig, see Festschrift: 150 Jahre Allgemeiner Turnverein zu Leipzig.

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the Soviet model. The eighteen SVs oversaw all of the BSGs affiliated with the enterprises in the particular industry. BSG Einheit Zentrum Leipzig fell under the authority of the SV Einheit, which oversaw all jobs related to municipal administration. The SV Aktivist assumed authority for the BSGs of the mining industry, the SV Fortschritt for the textile and leather industries, the SV Traktor for agriculture, and the SV Dynamo for the police.76 East German sports moved even further in a Soviet direction with several key changes between 1950 and 1952. In 1950, the SED passed the Youth Law ( Jugendgesetz), which included the introduction of a sports honor known as the BAV Sports Medal. Modeled on the Soviet Union’s GTO Medal, the BAV Sports Medal declared its citizens “Prepared to Work and to Defend” (Bereit zur Arbeit und Verteidigung [ BAV]) and soon became a centerpiece of East Germany’s mass sports program. The 1950 Youth Law also authorized the building of the German College for Physical Culture in Leipzig—which, when combined with Leipzig’s role as host of the German Gymnastics and Sports Festivals, confirmed the status of Leipzig as the “sports metropolis” of the GDR. In 1952, the SED introduced the Society for Sports and Technology (Gesellschaft für Sport und Technik [GST]), a paramilitary organization that operated under the Ministry of Defense and based itself on the Soviet Voluntary Society of Assistance to the Army, the Air Force and the Navy (DOSAAF) civil defense organization. The final step in the Sovietization of East German sports came in 1952 with the creation of the State Committee for Physical Culture and Sports, a committee that reported directly to the Sports Division of the SED Central Committee. The All-Union Committee of Physical Culture and Sports of the Soviet Union provided the model for the GDR’s State Committee. The SED introduced the State Committee in part because the DS was struggling to manage its many responsibilities and was particularly ineffective in its efforts to attain recognition for East German teams by international sports federations and the International Olympic Committee. The new State Committee oversaw all areas of sports in the GDR and left the DS with the exclusive responsibility for East-West German sports relations.77 “Die gewerkschaftlichen Sportvereinigungen (1951),” in Körperkultur und Sport in der DDR: Dokumentation eines geschlossenen Systems, ed. Hajo Bernett (Schorndorf: Hofmann, 1994), 68–70. 77 Teichler, 46–51; Childs, 76–80. 76

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Even with the introduction of the State Committee, the organization of East German sports remained an almost overwhelming task. Particularly problematic were efforts to reconcile the Soviet-based industrial SVs with the sports-specific international federations that were increasingly recognizing East German teams. The introduction of the German Gymnastics and Sports Association (Deutscher Turn und Sportbund [DTSB]) in 1957—which involved the dismantling of the DS—represented a response to the organizational chaos. With the creation of the DTSB, which directed East German sports from 1957 until 1990, the government eliminated most of the SVs that had governed BSGs in particular industries. Only Dynamo and Vorwärts, which were tied to the police and the army and which housed internationally competitive athletes, remained. These SVs helped preserve the illusion of amateurism; officially the athletes had jobs with the police or with the army. In the place of the SVs, the DTSB founded national Sports Federations (Sportverbände) devoted to individual sports. Each individual BSG founded several subdivisions, known as Sections (Sektionen), for the different sports that the members of the BSG played. The Section of each BSG now reported to the local, regional, and then national Sports Federation for its sport, rather than the SV associated with the BSG’s sponsoring industry. At the highest level, the new DTSB coordinated all national Sports Federations. This new structure also made it easier for East Germany to work with international sports federations, all of them structured according to sports and not enterprise affiliation. On the surface, the creation of the DTSB represented a break with Sovietization, as it was not modeled on any Soviet precedent and was an independent creation of the East German government. It reflected the increasing independence of East Germany within the Soviet bloc, especially with its achievement of full sovereignty in September 1955, and the increasing freedom for experimentation that followed Khrushchev’s Secret Speech in February 1956.78 Nonetheless, although the DTSB was an East German, not a Soviet creation, it continued to feature the high degree of centralization that began in 1948 with the DS. Indeed, it was significantly more inconceivable in 1957 than it was in 1948 that independent sports associations in the Verein tradition would resurrect themselves. The new DTSB improved the organization

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of elite sports, but the everyday athletic experiences of the average East German citizen remained very much the same, centered on playing sports in a Soviet-style BSG. Whether under the DS or the DTSB, democratic centralism was a critical component of the Sovietization of East German sports. Indeed, the BSG functioned not as an autonomous Verein, but rather as the lowest instance of a highly centralized sports network designed to encompass all of East Germany. According to the model of democratic centralism, which defined organized social life in both the Soviet Union and the GDR, the SED Central Committee, the SED’s Sports Division, and the State Committee for Physical Culture and Sports formulated central plans for sports. These plans were ostensibly democratic, yet hierarchy and centralism dominated over democracy.79 Sports authorities developed centralized sports plans and passed these plans down through the hierarchical structure of East German sports until they reached every town and every BSG. Ideally, all BSGs in the GDR would engage in the same activities throughout the year, following the plans of the central party organs. Each year, for example, the State Committee for Physical Culture and Sports devised summer and winter sports plans and instructed organizations on all levels throughout the GDR to implement them. As part of the summer sports plan for 1953, the State Committee instructed the SV Traktor to organize Sports Days for the Rural Population throughout the agricultural areas of the GDR on 26 April. As a result, the BSG Traktor Naundorf organized a Massenwaldlauf (mass run in the forest) and a sports festival, and the BSG Traktor Bruesewitz organized a festival that included volleyball, table tennis, and soccer.80 These were not spontaneous local festivities, but rather a response to the requests of central leaders. Thus, whereas a working-class sports club in the Weimar Republic might have been a member of the Workers’ Gymnastics and Sports Federation (ATSB) and might have cooperated with the ATSB to organize activities, that club would not have been expected to follow the orders of the ATSB. However, in the GDR, the principle of “democratic centralism” replaced the associational autonomy of the pre-Nazi years with a standardized leisure culture in which every small

Weber, 31. SAPMO-BArch, DY 44 10/418/7970, “1. Sporttag der Landbevölkerung, 1953.” 79

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town of the GDR and every individual BSG ostensibly participated in the same activities. For a state claiming to promote socialist patriotism and antifascism, East Germany’s new sports structures, by establishing unity, by adopting democratic centralism, and by allowing no autonomy to preexisting clubs, actually bore a striking resemblance to National Socialist “coordination.” Ironically, the Nazi ban on working-class sports clubs during coordination in 1933 aided the “antifascist” GDR significantly. The SED, desiring unity, refused to allow formerly autonomous working-class clubs to resurrect themselves, yet did not directly disband those clubs, because the National Socialists had already done so in 1933. This saved the SED from doing the dirty work of directly dismantling longstanding Arbeitersport clubs, a step that would have starkly contradicted its pledge to work on behalf of the working class. Conclusion In public ceremony, in historical publications, and in schools, East German leaders celebrated the supposed historical roots of East Germany’s sports culture. In actuality, however, new Soviet structures entered the East German local sports landscape beginning in the late 1940s and soon replaced the autonomous Vereine of pre-Nazi German history. Despite East Germany’s constant celebration of its historical roots, sports leaders now began actively to replace lingering feelings for the old Vereine—for the actual athletic traditions of Germany—with pride in the newly-founded BSGs and in socialist East Germany. Many questions remain. How would the new Soviet structures shape sports in East Germany? What would it mean, as Herr Pohling of the SED demanded in the Leipzig debates with the LDP, “for sports in the future to be filled with a specific political spirit”? Would citizens who yearned for their old Vereine reject the new Soviet structures and abandon sports participation, or would they, as Herr Riedel of the SED proclaimed, embrace any chance to play sports, regardless of the name or form of the organization? In a broader sense, what can the story of mass sports reveal about the everyday culture of socialism in East Germany?

CHAPTER TWO

TRAINING NEW SOCIALIST CITIZENS THROUGH SPORTS In 1959, SED Secretary General Walter Ulbricht coined a phrase that succinctly captured East Germany’s goals for sports over the previous decade: “Jedermann an jedem Ort, jede Woche einmal Sport” (Everybody, Everywhere, Should Play Sports Every Week).1 To Ulbricht, athletic participation and physical fitness were key attributes of the ideal citizen of socialist East Germany, and his slogan became part of the standard promotional rhetoric surrounding East German sports. True to these visions, the government and its mass organizations sponsored a multitude of sports activities designed to reach every citizen in East Germany. These activities included festivals, runs in the forests, and competitions at the workplace, community, city, region, and national levels. Government leaders believed that athletic participation would help “build socialism” in the GDR. On an ideological level, “building socialism” meant cultivating a new socialist culture based on collective identities rooted in the factory, the neighborhood, or the school. It also involved fostering work productivity and paramilitary skills that would boost citizens’ health and well-being and enable them to serve these new collectives and their state. On a more pragmatic and political level, “building socialism” implied structuring the leisure time of citizens by inducing their participation in the state’s mass organizations and encouraging their basic identification with and loyalty to the socialist government of East Germany. Participating in state activities became a key expectation of a proper socialist citizen, and government leaders hailed citizen participation as a marker of the successful building of socialism. The fictional story “Sich selbst besiegt” (Victory Over One’s Self ), published in 1956 and distributed in factories and enterprises throughout the GDR, highlights the government’s goal that all citizens play sports and its optimism that mass mobilization activities could make this vision

1

10 Jahre DDR: Der Sport hilft beim Aufbau (Berlin: Sportverlag Berlin, 1959), 26.

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a reality.2 As propaganda, the brochure concisely and accurately demonstrates the state’s idealized vision of how participation in organized sports could transform individual East Germans into model socialist citizens. The brochure also reveals how leaders intended democratic centralism to work at the local level to mobilize citizens for sports, showing how the workplace would serve as the center of mobilization activities and highlighting one of the state’s most popular mass sports events, the Massenwaldlauf (mass run in the forest), organized throughout the GDR and designed to pull citizens into more regular athletic participation. In this pamphlet, readers meet Karl Hammerschmidt, an ordinary, 40-year-old everyman who works as a lathe operator. Karl and his good friend Fritz Doehmke are watching a weekend soccer game between their factory team, BSG Motor Breitenfeld, and BSG Traktor Eberswalde.3 Several days later, Fritz, who has been appointed an official sports organizer of the enterprise, asks Karl to help him organize sports. Karl is, however, reluctant, and thinks “Then I would have to play sports myself. That is unthinkable. With my 40 years, I’m too old.” Karl then looks “affectionately” at his “round belly.” Karl’s colleagues agree with him, thinking “We are happy to watch a soccer game. But to play ourselves?”4 At a meeting that evening, Fritz and members of the enterprise leadership strategize about how to increase the number of workers in the enterprise—at the moment only 20%—who participate in sports and are members of BSG Motor Breitenfeld. Fritz then suggests that the enterprise doctor talk to the workers about how sports could help them ease the physical strains of their demanding work.5 The next day, the enterprise doctor gives a lecture over the loudspeaker, and emphasizes the health benefits of regular athletic activity, proclaiming that “Damaged posture and work-related illnesses can be prevented through regular activity in the gymnasium or on the sports field.”6 He emphasizes that “It is not for the benefit of the BSG that we hope to win members. . . . Participating in sports is of personal benefit for every

2 Sportmuseum Leipzig-Dokumente (hereafter SML-Dokumente), D 4744, “Sich selbst besiegt,” published by FDGB Abteilung für Körperkultur und Sport, 1956. 3 Ibid., 3. 4 Ibid., 5. 5 Ibid., 10. 6 Ibid., 10.

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individual citizen.”7 Karl listens with interest. He has felt “run-down” for many days, and he wonders if perhaps the doctor is correct that his lethargy could stem from the unbalanced physical nature of his work.8 The story continues at a Sunday morning, non-competitive Massenwaldlauf of 1500 meters. Fritz encourages Karl to participate, but Karl remains stubborn and worries that he might finish last. Karl also realizes that he has work to do in the garden, and “what would his wife say, if an old man like him were to hop around like a boy?” However, Fritz is very persistent, and finally Karl decides, “I guess one time won’t hurt.”9 Thus begins the transformation of Karl Hammerschmidt. In groups of twenty, runners take off, and Karl is comforted that there is no stopwatch and that every person who completes the race receives a medal, which would be “the first athletic recognition in [his] life.”10 As Karl begins to run, his pensiveness and self-doubt become excitement and enthusiasm, and he becomes competitive, deciding he wants to be the first to finish from his group. According to the story, His legs grow heavier and heavier the longer he runs . . ., his thoughts race feverishly, and [ his] legs . . . pound in a fast rhythm. Centimeter by centimeter, the leader is nearer, he is almost close enough to catch. And now he is behind Karl. His breath is panting, his heart is beating wildly. But it is almost done! Karl sees the tape.11

At the end, the BSG leader gives Karl his medal, and the other colleagues congratulate him “as though he had won a great victory.” They also playfully dub him Zatopek, after an Olympic gold medalist runner from Czechoslovakia.12 Indeed, as the authors of the booklet point out, “Karl had in fact won a victory, a victory over himself and his preconceptions.”13 Through the Massenwaldlauf and the satisfaction of physical vigor Karl Hammerschmidt had been transformed. The lathe operator, who thought just weeks ago that he was too old for sports, is now one of sport’s

7 8 9 10 11 12 13

Ibid., Ibid., Ibid., Ibid., Ibid., Ibid., Ibid.,

10. 11. 14. 15. 18. 21. 21.

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chapter two most devoted followers. Everything is now so much easier, his work on the lathe and in the garden. Karl feels healthier and stronger. His muscle aches are long forgotten. He never misses a practice of his sports group. Karl cannot decide on any one sport. It makes him happy to run today, to play football tomorrow, or perhaps to swim.14

Throughout the remainder of the pamphlet, Karl becomes involved in the BSG, participates in Motor Breitenfeld’s first enterprise sports festival, and fulfills the requirements for the BAV Sports Medal, the state’s official mass sports honor. The booklet ends by asking its readers: “And when will you, colleague, begin to play sports actively?”15 The tale of Karl Hammerschmidt’s transformation reveals the importance the state placed on citizen participation in state-organized athletic events rather than private fitness activities, celebrating participation in the Massenwaldlauf, membership in the BSG, and acquisition of the BAV Sports Medal as appropriate activities for citizens. In fact, Karl Hammerschmidt’s transition from one-time athletic participant to sports club leader was the model trajectory that East German leaders such as Ulbricht hoped all citizens would follow. Karl Hammerschmidt is a fictitious everyman, yet many citizens of East Germany in the 1950s had athletic experiences very similar to his. Werner Holtzschke played field hockey in Leipzig in the 1950s with the BSG Einheit Zentrum Leipzig and also worked as the sports organizer for his employer, VEB Erzprojekt Leipzig, the sponsor of BSG Einheit Zentrum. Through his organizational efforts, he resembled the Fritz Doehmke of the story. Lothar and Christa Finze were avid skiers in the BSG Lokomotive Köthen, cross-training throughout the week, traveling away at the early hour of 4:17 a.m. to weekend ski competitions, and eventually coaching younger athletes. Heinz Rühlicke participated in artistic cycling (Kunstradfahren) in BSG Traktor Annaburg, training, competing, and socializing with fellow athletes, and enjoying the opportunity to travel away from his small town to weekend competitions. In the case of these individuals and countless others, athletic participation was the major activity outside of work and family; it became integral to their day-to-day lives and a major component of their identities during the years of the GDR and long after German reunification.16

Ibid., 26. Ibid., 29. 16 Werner Holtzschke, interview by Molly Wilkinson Johnson (hereafter author), Wittenberg, Germany, 10 July 1999; Lothar Finze and Christa Finze, interview by 14 15

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That so many East German citizens’ lives did, on the surface, resemble the state’s ideals as represented in the Karl Hammerschmidt story raises many questions. In what ways did the state’s day-to-day organization of sports correspond to that presented in the idealized Karl Hammerschmidt story? How did the “democratic centralist” approach towards mobilizing citizens to participate in state-driven associational activities actually work in day-to-day life? How did the experiences of real citizen-athletes such as Werner Holtzschke, Lothar and Christa Finze, and Heinz Rühlicke compare with those of the fictitious and idealized Karl Hammerschmidt? What drove these citizens to participate in their chosen sports, how did sports fit into the fabric of their daily lives, and how did they interpret these activities? Were they primarily private citizens choosing associational activities according to their personal interests, or did they see their activities as contributing to the construction of a new socialist state? Weighing the state’s goals for sports, as embodied by the Karl Hammerschmidt story, against a study of the day-to-day planning of sports reveals that the state successfully elicited participation in its sports programs and compliance with its expectations, thereby creating the appearance of a fully mobilized society. However, citizens preserved some individual and communal autonomy even as they adhered to the expectation that they participate in state programs. The government used its extensive power to structure the contours of associational life for millions of citizens, but was less successful in transforming people’s loyalty to their new socialist state in the process. Prepared to Work and Defend: East Germany’s Goals for Mass Sports Although Ulbricht and other East German leaders were intent on bringing all citizens into sports, the goal was not simply the elevation of sports. Rather, the state wanted to use sports to instrumentalize its citizens’ bodies for the purpose of “building socialism.” As Ulbricht pointed out in a speech on 31 October 1951, “We do not play sports as an end in and of itself, but rather to keep the body healthy and to strengthen the body in order to fulfill the necessary work for the new author, Köthen, Germany, 10 July 2004; Heinz Rühlicke, interview by author, Annaburg, Germany, 5 May 2005.

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building of socialism.”17 How did Ulbricht and others conceptualize the relationship between sports and the “building of socialism”? One goal was to use democratic centralism to bring individual citizens into the state’s collective structures, where they spent their leisure time engaging in state activities and encountering state ideology. Equally important was the state’s goal of using sports to train the bodies of citizens to contribute to East Germany by improving their work productivity and their paramilitary skills. As the official Sports Medal declared, its recipients were “prepared to work and defend.” Using sports both as a form of social control and as a means to improve citizens’ physical abilities to contribute to the state and to the economy paralleled the goals of other twentieth-century dictatorial states and liberal democratic governments and capitalist economies, all of whom shared an interest in developing the health of individual citizens as the foundation for the health of the entire society. The link between sports and paramilitarism was rooted in a broader perception, shared by many groups and nation states, that physical activity and participation in achievement-oriented, rule-bound, disciplined, competitive sports could prepare citizens for times of warfare. The Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the French aristocrat who promoted the modern Olympics, considered sports as a way to promote national fitness after France’s loss to Germany in the Franco-Prussian War.18 Concern over the poor physical fitness of young American men when the United States entered World War One provided an impetus for the promotion of physical fitness in public schools, as well as the incorporation of regular athletics into military training.19 The promotion of athleticism to foster paramilitary skills had deep roots on German soil as well. Friedrich Ludwig Jahn’s initial interest in forming Turnen clubs in early nineteenth-century Germany took its impetus from the need for young men to be able to defend Germany

17 Deutsches Hygiene-Museum Dresden, ed., Körperkultur, Sport und Gesundheit (Berlin: VEB Verlag Volk und Gesundheit, 1953), 32–33. 18 Richard Mandell, The Nazi Olympics, 2nd ed. (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1987), 16. See also Eugen Weber, “Pierre de Coubertin and the Introduction of Organized Sport in France,” Journal of Contemporary History 5, no. 2 (1970): 3–26. 19 See S. W. Pope, Patriotic Games: Sporting Traditions in the American Imagination, 1876–1926 (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), particularly chapters 7 and 8.

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against outside military threats.20 The Weimar Republic encouraged sports when the Versailles Treaty limited the size of Germany’s standing army. Reporters, sports officials, and athletes saw sports such as track and field as an ideal way to ensure that, even without formal military training, German boys and men would nonetheless be fit enough to fight a war; many considered sports as a substitute for military service (Ersatzwehrdienst).21 Furthermore, government and sports leaders explicitly linked physical fitness and sports to paramilitary potential in the Third Reich and required sports clubs to introduce paramilitary activities.22 Hitler’s Mein Kampf makes clear his belief in the link between physical fitness and the health and military might of the nation.23 East German leaders frequently emphasized that their paramilitary structures in no way resembled those of western capitalist countries or those of the Nazis, nor did they contradict the official rhetoric of peace. According to the standard East German narrative, whereas capitalist societies promoted paramilitarism to prepare for imperialist wars in which members of the working class would fight and die, socialist states, in contrast, cultivated paramilitary skills to enable citizens to defend themselves against outside threats and to restore conditions of peace. As one East German sports theorist argued, paramilitarism in socialist societies ensured “the defense of freedom and the homeland against attacks by imperialist groups and powers.”24 Despite this rhetoric of peace, East Germany became a thoroughly militarized society, in which millions of citizens encountered militarized activities through sports, flag ceremonies, military parades, and military training at school. Likewise, the language of East German socialism, calling for vigilance against enemies and constant mobilization, often resembled that of a military campaign, thus lending to the “building of socialism” a semi-military

Berit Elisabeth Dencker, “Popular Gymnastics and the Military Spirit in Germany, 1848–1871” Central European History 34, no. 4 (2001): 503–505. 21 See Erik Jensen, “ManPower: Militarism, Masculinity and Track and Field in Weimar Germany” (Paper delivered at German Studies Association Conference, Milwaukee, 2005). 22 See Reinhard Rürup, ed., 1936: Die Olympischen Spiele und der Nationalsozialismus (Berlin: Argon, 1999) and David Clay Large, Nazi Games: The Olympics of 1936 (New York: W. W. Norton, 2007). 23 See Mandell, The Nazi Olympics, chapter 2. 24 Günter Thiess, “Die Aufgaben der demokratischen Körpererziehung bei der bewaffneten Verteidigung unserer Heimat,” Theorie und Praxis der Körperkultur (hereafter TPK ) 1 ( June 1952): 4. 20

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tone.25 Indeed, the militarization of society could function to discipline the population as a form of social control. As historian Corey Ross argued, militarization “was as much about securing internal control as about outward civil defence.”26 Just as East Germany was hardly alone in promoting sports to cultivate paramilitary skills, so did its use of sports to heighten work productivity resemble the efforts of capitalist enterprises and a range of governments. As historian Anson Rabinbach wrote in his study of energy and fatigue, government and social interest in work productivity was “politically promiscuous” in the twentieth century.27 Siemens, one of the largest and most successful capitalist enterprises during the Weimar era in Germany, regularly sponsored sports clubs and festivals for its workers. Siemens organizers hoped that workers who played sports in company-built facilities and who participated in company-sponsored festivals would develop a strong allegiance to Siemens and would have less unstructured time to become involved in radical working-class politics.28 The German Institute for Technical Labor (Dinta), active in Weimar rationalization efforts, also prioritized sports such as swimming, gymnastics, and hiking as a means of boosting worker health, productivity, and camaraderie and of drawing workers away from the proletarian subculture. For example, Vestag’s Dortmunder Union, following Dinta suggestions, sponsored gymnastics, soccer, swimming, and chess for its employees.29 Socialist and communist leaders often criticized enterprises for replacing workers’ commitment to working-class sports clubs and politics with loyalty to the enterprise.30 As a form of welfare capitalism, enterprises in the United States during the Progressive era also sponsored sports and other leisure activities to help their workers

25 See Corey Ross, “‘Protecting the Accomplishments of Socialism’? The (Re)militarization of Life in the German Democratic Republic,” in The Workers’ and Peasants’ State: Communism and Society in East Germany under Ulbricht, 1945–71, ed. Patrick Major and Jonathon Osmond (Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 2002), 86. 26 Ibid., 79. 27 Anson Rabinbach, The Human Motor: Energy, Fatigue, and the Origins of Modernity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992), 272. 28 Andreas Luh, Betriebssport zwischen Arbeitgeberinteressen und Arbeitnehmerbedürfnissen: Eine historische Analyse vom Kaiserreich bis zur Gegenwart (Aachen: Meyer und Meyer, 1998), 106–116. 29 Mary Nolan, Visions of Modernity: American Business and the Modernization of Germany (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994), 195–196. 30 Luh, 194–199.

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adapt to industrial society and keep them from leisure time pursuits that could hurt their companies. The National Cash Register Company had a company park where athletes could play tennis, golf, or basketball; U.S. Steel owned nineteen swimming pools where its workers could swim; and the Pennsylvania Railroad operated thirty-two baseball fields, thirty-three tennis courts, seven athletic tracks, and a golf course.31 The Nazis also sponsored leisure activities for workers through the Labor Front and its “Strength through Joy” program, with the goal of boosting productivity, drawing workers away from vestiges of the independent labor movement, and creating a cooperative “plant community.” “Strength through Joy” functioned as an intermediary between the private travel industry and workers to ensure that workers could afford vacations. “Strength through Joy” prioritized sports, including official “Sports in the Plants” programs, as appropriate leisure activities that would contribute to work productivity and seal workers’ loyalty to their firm. Corollary “Beauty of Labor” campaigns also improved sports facilities for workers, constructing football fields, gymnasiums, and pools.32 Many workers who had previously participated in sports through the socialist or communist movements embraced the athletic opportunities of “Strength through Joy,” including Heinz Haferkorn of Leipzig, who became a sports functionary in East Germany in the 1950s. Haferkorn had been a member of a working-class sports club, Turnverein Eiche Leipzig, before 1933. When his club was shut down during the Nazi “coordination,” he and his friends continued to play sports through “Strength through Joy” programs.33 Like capitalist enterprises such as Siemens and Nazi organizations such as “Strength through Joy,” the East German government and its centralized organizations used sports as a way to depoliticize workers’ sympathies retained from previous eras. East Germany’s BSGs replaced sports clubs that individuals joined by free choice with centralized leisure time activities anchored in the enterprise and designed to bolster the productivity, unity, and loyalty of workers and to minimize the likelihood of workers falling prey to oppositional movements. East Germany—following the Soviet lead—argued that because its sports

31 Stuart D. Brandes, American Welfare Capitalism, 1880–1940 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970), 5, 75. 32 Shelley Baranowski, Strength through Joy: Consumerism and Mass Tourism in the Third Reich (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 96–98. 33 Heinz Haferkorn, interview by author, Leipzig, Germany, 21 August 2000.

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programs served socialist ends, they differed from exploitative capitalist sports programs.34 In a socialist “workers” state,” it was no longer necessary to have separate working-class organizations, leaders claimed. Despite such statements, the association of sports with such benefits to the state and society as work productivity and paramilitarism was not unique to East Germany or to socialism, although East Germany’s centralized sports structures allowed it to pursue these goals quite comprehensively. The GDR’s mass organizations for sports, the German Sports Association (DS) and the German Gymnastics and Sports Federation (DTSB), were critical to its efforts to mobilize citizens through sports. Historian Ulrich Mählert emphasizes how mass organizations in the GDR explicitly broke with the tradition of the independent Verein—a part of civil society ostensibly independent of the formal state—and instead designed programs to bind the population to the Socialist Unity Party. He stipulates three functions of the mass organizations: 1) to transmit party goals to the population and to mobilize citizen support (Transmissionsfunktion); 2) to integrate all citizens into state-sponsored activities (Integrationsfunktion); and 3) to “control” or “steer” the population by requiring frequent reports on club activities, thereby facilitating the monitoring of the population (Kontrollfunktion).35 The BSG—the lowest instance of the DS and DTSB—performed these functions in several ways. If one wanted to play competitive sports, one had to join the BSG; this integrated all citizens inclined to athletics into state-sponsored organizations. BSGs had to submit copious notes and reports on their activities to the city and county DS and DTSB organizations and to their sponsoring enterprises; this facilitated the state’s monitoring of the population. BSG members also had to participate in annual political celebrations, another means by which centralized sports transmitted ideology and mobilized the population. Many people who participated in sports in the 1950s remember the state’s expectations of involvement in festivities to celebrate 1 May, International Workers’ Day. Gymnast Siegfried Müller not only marched in May Day parades with his fellow gymnasts, but also gave a gymnastics exhibition during

34 Barbara J. Keys, Globalizing Sport: National Rivalry and International Community in the 1930s (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006), 179–180, 182–183. 35 Ulrich Mählert, “Die Massenorganisation im politischen System der DDR,” in Die Parteien und Organisationen der DDR: Ein Handbuch, ed. Gerd-Rüdiger Stephan, et al. (Berlin: Dietz, 2002), 110–111.

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festivities after the parade. Heinz Rühlicke remembered that sports club members not only had to participate in May Day parades, but also in all parades in his town.36 Participation in political events was one of the standard expectations of East Germany’s citizen-athletes. Perhaps the clearest evidence that East Germany designed its mass organizations to mobilize the population was the state-sponsored BAV Sports Medal (Sportabzeichen). By bringing the Sports Medal into schools, sporting events, and the workplace; by overseeing its distribution through substantial record-keeping and reporting; and by requiring its recipients to pass an exam infused with the state’s ideology, the state revealed its mobilizing, monitoring, and socializing goals for its mass sports organizations and programs. The BAV Sports Medal, introduced in 1950 and modeled on the GTO Sports Medal of the Soviet Union, became the primary mass athletic honor to which citizens could aspire.37 Citizens earned the BAV Sports Medal by performing a set of “obligatory exercises” including swimming, climbing, gymnastics, a foot march, and an obstacle course, and “optional exercises” such as shot put, long jump, high jump, running, and cycling. Rather than awarding accomplishment in one particular sport, the BAV Sports Medal thus rewarded all-around physical fitness. Citizens were required to complete most tasks in a specific amount of time, which was gauged with a stopwatch. Children and adolescents could earn preliminary versions, and once they turned eighteen, they could earn the adult BAV Sports Medal, which was available in bronze, silver, and gold.38 The Sports Medal was known as the “BAV” Sports Medal because the slogan on the Sports Medal declared one “Bereit zur Arbeit und Verteidung,” or prepared to work and defend. Initially, the BAV Sports Medal declared

36 Siegfried Müller, interview by author, Wittenberg, Germany, 19 May 2005; Rühlicke, interview. 37 For more on paramilitarism in Soviet sports and the GTO program, see Mike O’Mahony, Sport in the USSR: Physical Culture—Visual Culture (London: Reaktion Books, 2006), chapter 5. 38 These descriptions of the BAV Sports Medal are drawn from: SML-Dokumente, D 4286, “Werktätiger: Erwirb das Sportleistungsabzeichen ‘Bereit zur Arbeit und zur Verteidigung des Friedens’ ”; Bundesarchiv Berlin (hereafter BAB), DR 5 20, “Durchführungsbestimmungen,” Sekretariatsvorlage, 1 September 1952; BAB, DR 5 172, “Prinzipien zum Sportleistungsabzeichen ‘Bereit zur Arbeit und zur Verteidigung des Friedens,’ ” 26. Sitzung, 23 December 1955; BAB, DR 5 185, Vorlage Nr. 6/7/1956, “Umtausch des Sportleistungsabzeichen ‘Bereit zur Arbeit und zur Verteidigung des Friedens.’ ”

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its recipients “Prepared to Work and Defend the Peace” (Frieden). In 1956, the government changed the name of the badge to “Prepared to Work and Defend the Homeland” (Heimat) as part of the heightened emphasis on East German patriotism that followed Khrushchev’s Secret Speech delivered in February. With the reorientation of the medal around Heimat, the government also changed the appearance of the medal and added the possibility for citizens to win supplemental recognition, in the form of a ribbon that extended beneath the medal, if they repeated the requirements within a two-year period. They won a bronze ribbon for repeating the requirements once, a silver ribbon for completing them three times, and a gold ribbon for five successful repetitions. Members of the National People’s Army, founded early in 1956, could get a special tag hanging underneath the new medal when they fulfilled requirements.39 The BAV Sports Medal was the centerpiece of mass mobilization campaigns surrounding sports. One newspaper article, reporting on a speech by DTSB President Rudi Reichert, emphasized that “we must ensure that one of the attributes of the good citizen of our state is wearing the Sports Medal.”40 The most prominent citizen of the GDR, Walter Ulbricht, proudly wore his BAV Sports Medal on many occasions. A documentary film produced to highlight the Gymnastics and Sports Festival in Leipzig in 1956 featured Ulbricht, with the BAV Sports Medal pinned to his shirt, proudly watching the synchronized gymnastics show.41 The BAV Sports Medal was so important that the numbers of recipients became, in the eyes of organizers, the chief benchmark of the loyal participation of East German citizens both in sports and in the “building of socialism” as a whole. As officials from the SV Stahl reported in 1954, expressing a broader sentiment, “The number of recipients of the Sports Medal is a clear measuring stick of our work. It reflects not only systematic participation in sports

39 “Erweiterung und Veränderung des Sportleistungsabzeichens (1956),” in Körperkultur und Sport in der DDR: Dokumentation eines geschlossenen Systems, ed. Hajo Bernett (Schorndorf: Hofmann, 1994), 77. See also Wilfried Ehrler and Frigga Dickwach, “Das Sportabzeichen der DDR: Zwischen Absicht und Wirklichkeit,” in Alltagssport in der DDR, ed. Jochen Hinsching (Aachen: Meyer und Meyer, 1998), 98, 101–101, and Hajo Bernett, “Das Sportleistungsabzeichen der DDR,” in Körperkultur und Sport in der DDR, 71. 40 SML-Dokumente, D 3993, “Damit der Sozialismus siegt: Jeder treibt Sport!” Vorwärts (8 December 1958). 41 Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv, “4. August 1956,” BCSP 2685.

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activities, but also documents the level of moral-political socialization among athletes.”42 In addition to fulfilling athletic requirements, recipients of the Sports Medal also had to pass a theoretical examination that clearly demonstrated the ideological underpinnings of the government’s promotion of mass sports. Some citizens recognized this ideological function. In an oral interview, Werner Holtzschke, recalling the ideological examination, emphasized that the state “used every opportunity to have a political influence.”43 Although administrators tweaked the questions over the years as government ideological positions changed, the link between sports and broader questions remained. As one example, the questions in 1952 moved from general questions about East German socialism, to questions about sports, and finally to questions about the BAV Sports Medal itself. The questions on society required medal recipients to demonstrate their understanding of the role of the state in guaranteeing the democratic foundations of the GDR. Questions on physical education asked how physical education could improve the health of workers, increase work productivity, prepare them to protect East Germany, and promote the development of socialist morality and collective thinking and behavior.44 As the word “defend” emblazoned on the Sports Medal illustrates, the GDR conceptualized the athletic requirements of the badge in part as a way to cultivate paramilitary skills in the general population. According to many East German theorists, general participation in sports helped to develop such characteristics as courage, endurance, hardiness, decisiveness, will power, and discipline.45 Several of the obligatory exercises for the BAV Sports Medal that were introduced in 1952, then suspended after the 1953 uprising, before returning in 1956, were explicitly paramilitaristic.46 Citizens had to complete an “orientation march,” designed as an “endurance exercise” that would develop discipline and a collective spirit (Kollektivgeist). The orientation march resembled a military drill. To fulfill the requirements for the gold level, adult men had to complete a twenty kilometer march in four 42 Erhard Schöber, “Aus der Arbeit der gewerkschaftlichen Sportorganisation ‘Stahl,’ ” TPK 3 (March 1954): 279–280. 43 Holtzschke, interview. 44 “Anweisung Nr. 8 des Staatlichen Komitees für Körperkultur und Sport (1952),” in Körperkultur und Sport in der DDR, 75–76. 45 Thiess, 4. 46 For the reduction and reintroduction of paramilitary requirements, see Bernett, 71.

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hours, carrying a load of ten kilograms. Adult women had to complete a twelve kilometer march in three hours, carrying eight kilograms. In order to promote collective spirit, participants had to complete the task in a group; individual endeavors were explicitly forbidden. They also had to display discipline and follow their leader. The guidelines also emphasized that, “The march should be conducted in a relaxed yet disciplined form, and the applicants should sing youth songs in order to create a spirit of joy and enthusiasm.” The use of sports to enhance paramilitary skills was also evident in the “optional exercises” for the Sports Medal in athletic disciplines such as shooting.47 Using the mechanisms of democratic centralism, the state gave GDR citizens ample opportunity to fulfill these paramilitary requirements for the BAV Sports Medal. At sports festivals throughout the country, organizers set up shooting stations and orientation marches to enable people to complete the requirements. The State Committee for Physical Culture and Sports required that all local sports officials throughout the GDR organize a mass orientation march every October.48 Regular weekend activities also incorporated paramilitarism. When citizens went walking or hiking in the woods on the weekend, the government encouraged them not to adopt a “bourgeois” attitude towards these activities as an “escape into the ‘freedom’ of nature,” or a “flight from burning political and economic responsibilities.”49 Based on the assumption that leisure time was not separate from but rather integral to one’s public identity, time spent in nature should instead enhance the abilities of citizens to “build socialism.”50 Citizens, working together in teams, used maps and compasses and followed the clues of nature—sun, moon, stars, trees, and birds—in order to reach goals. Along the way, they had to throw model hand grenades at goals, clear obstacles in rivers, lakes, swamps,

47 BAB, DR 5 20, “Durchführungsbestimmungen,” Sekretariatsvorlage, 1 September 1952. 48 BAB, DR 5 49, “Verordnung über Massnahmen zur Durchführung des Massensportes im Sommer 1953,” 24 March 1953. 49 Edelfrid Buggel, “Die Bedeutung der touristischen Wettkämpfe für die Verbreiterung der Massensportbewegung in der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik,” TPK 4 (March 1955): 202. 50 Scott Moranda notes that discussion over the need for time spent in nature to be political, not escapist, dates back to the socialist Friends of Nature organization of the 1920s. See “East German Nature Tourism, 1945–1961: In Search of a Common Destination,” in Turizm: The Russian and East European Tourist under Capitalism and Socialism, ed. Anne E. Gorsuch and Diane P. Koenker (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2006), 269.

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and gorges, pitch tents, and prepare meals over fires.51 Spending time in nature, according to this plan, became not a private contemplation of nature’s glories or an escape from the hectic city, but rather a collective exercise in paramilitary training. Activities for schoolchildren who were too young to work towards the junior BAV Sports Medal also incorporated paramilitarism. Children could work towards the “Golden Snowshoe” prize awarded by the Young Pioneers for winter sports achievement. Children in the first and second grades had to help build snowmen, hold a contest to see who could throw a snowball the furthest, and pay active attention during a story hour. Activities for children in the third and fourth grades incorporated more distinctly paramilitaristic elements: their snowballthrowing contest required them to hit specific targets, and instead of a simple story hour, they read together stories with such titles as “On the Life of Partisans” and “The Responsibilities of the Border Police in the Winter.” “Golden Snowshoe” requirements for fifth and sixth grade students included an evening gathering with local members of the military. Seventh and eighth graders built and then stormed a snow shelter under the direction of representatives from either the army or the police.52 On 7 August 1952, the government went further in its efforts to use sports to promote paramilitarism, creating the Society for Sports and Technology (Gesellschaft für Sport und Technik [GST]), which was open to teenage and adult men and women. The GST was modeled directly on the Soviet Voluntary Society of Assistance to the Army, the Air Force and the Navy (DOSAAF), the paramilitary organization of the Soviet Union. The statute of the GST declared the organization’s purpose as “to educate its members to become good patriots, to have love and loyalty towards the first workers’ and peasants’ state—the German Democratic Republic—the bastion of peace, democracy, and progress.” The GST would cultivate in its members defense readiness (Verteidungsbereitschaft) by sponsoring sports that its practioners could easily utilize in the military, e.g., shooting, aviation, parachuting, hunting, and horseback riding.53

Buggel, 202–204. BAB, DR 5 927, “Bedingungen für den Erwerb der ‘Goldenen Schneeschuhe.’ ” 53 Kleine Enzyklopädie Körperkultur und Sport (Leipzig: Verlag Enzyklopädie Leipzig, 1960), 48–49. See also David Childs, “The German Democratic Republic,” in Sport 51 52

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Even more important to the GDR than paramilitarism was promoting work productivity through sports. This goal emerged out of economic necessity, particularly in the aftermath of significant wartime destruction. Both East and West Germany needed extensive reconstruction. East Germany’s Five Year Plan, launched in 1951, reflected the SED’s economic goals, which included an increase in industrial production from twenty-three to forty-five billion marks, an increase in agricultural yields of 25%, and an increase in “work productivity” of 72%. Leaders considered the cultivation of greater work productivity the most crucial economic goal because it was the foundation of all other economic accomplishments.54 Walter Ulbricht and other Party officials recognized sports as a promising way to enhance work productivity, and sports organizers, sports theorists, and sports propagandists celebrated the link between general participation in sports and increased work productivity. Typical was a poem that declared: “Sports and work represent for me a unity, joy at games and joy at producing for our state of peace! I call all workers to do the same: fulfill your duties everywhere, be a role model at work and a role model at sports!”55 The argument that sports could contribute to work productivity centered around two key benefits: sports could improve how the worker managed his energy to accomplish more tasks in less time, and work place sports programs could heighten the camaraderie among workers and their loyalty to the enterprise. A productivist ideology that focused on the worker’s body as the key to greater work productivity had deep roots in Germany. Both the European science of work and the American ideology of Taylorism had been very influential in twentieth-century Germany. According to Anson Rabinbach, both ideologies focused on the body of the worker, rather than the conditions of the work place, as the key to greater productivity.56 A new science of sports began to develop during the Weimar years, as achievement-oriented, competitive sports became

under Communism: The U.S.S.R., Czechoslovakia, The G.D.R., China, Cuba, ed. James Riordan (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1978), 80, 84–86. 54 Hermann Weber, Die DDR 1945–1990 (Munich: Oldenbourg, 1993), 34–35. 55 Sportmuseum Leipzig, “Nursportler? Ihre Zeit ist vorbei!” in Deutscher Turn- und Sportbund, Abteilung Agitation und Propaganda, ed., Gesundheit-Frohsinn-Schaffenskraft, Anleitungsheft für Sportwerbegruppen und die Gestaltung des kulturellen Lebens im DTSB (Berlin, 1961), 14–15. 56 Rabinbach, 11. See also Nolan, Visions of Modernity, for discussions of time and motion studies and other strategies to rationalize work.

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increasingly important as profit-generating spectacles. It shared methods and assumptions with the science of work and Taylorism, particularly the meticulous study of time and energy. The science of sports did not merely encourage athletes to train harder and run faster, but rather it took a scientific approach, using precise measurements and advanced tools in order to study the nuances of physical movement.57 East Germany would build upon these traditions as it promoted and studied sports and the utilization of energy in a scientific manner. The German College for Physical Culture in Leipzig was the foremost scholarly institute committed to studying how East German athletes could attain athletic success. Although most notorious for its development of doping programs, the College also engaged in scientific studies of all aspects of sports, including the human body in motion and its relation to the management of time. The East German government and its sports scholars insisted that its interest in managing the worker’s body to improve work productivity was fundamentally different from similar initiatives under capitalism. As East German sports scholar Rolf Uhlig argued, capitalists promoted sports to maximize the brute strength of workers in order to exploit them by exhausting them through work. In contrast, Uhlig claimed, the socialist GDR promoted sports to increase work productivity by fine tuning skill, improving the use of time, and enhancing endurance.58 Despite such official claims, the differences between socialist and capitalist promotion of work productivity, as with paramilitarism, were primarily rhetorical, as both systems studied the worker and his body in order to enable the worker to contribute to increasing industrial production. Sports as a means to improve energy and time management formed the backbone of scholarly arguments about the significance of sports to work productivity. As Uhlig argued: Just like sports, work is a production of muscles, brainpower, and nerves. . . . The more feeling and thought a worker has for an economy of strength and movement—which cannot be developed anywhere as well as through sports—the more time and strength he will conserve. Conserving

57 Michael Mackenzie, “Maschinenmenschen: Images of the Body as a Machine in the Art and Culture of Weimar Germany” (PhD Dissertation, University of Chicago, 1999). For discussion of American methods as a model for the “science of sports,” see Keys, 75. 58 Rolf Uhlig, “Welche Möglichkeiten hat die Demokratische Sportbewegung, auf die Steigerung der Arbeitsproduktivität einzuwirken?” TPK 2 ( July 1953): 14.

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Uhlig also noted that physical fitness makes workers better able to fight against general decline in productive potential in the afternoon and also decreases the number of sick days that workers request. Uhlig asked, “Who has stronger defenses against illness and can . . . avoid injuries as well as the person who has developed hardiness, endurance, and skillfulness through physical culture and sports?”59 Based on such scholarly arguments, political and sports leaders in East Germany promoted sports and physical training to help their workers manage their energy and thereby maximize work time. In addition to promoting any number of competitive sports, leaders also celebrated the BAV Sports Medal program as improving work productivity because it required citizens to perform tasks in specified periods of time. A BAV promotional brochure distributed to workers throughout East Germany stated, “Constant training to fulfill the requirements for the Sports Medal will teach workers . . . to fulfill their jobs in production with the same endurance and motivation [that they use in sports]. The struggle with seconds and millimeters will make them capable.”60 This “struggle with seconds and millimeters”—the performance of physical tasks in limited periods of time—was key to the potential of sports to effect greater work productivity. Whereas the BAV Sports Medal promoted paramilitarism through specific drills, it cultivated work productivity by requiring citizens to perform challenging physical tasks in specific periods of time. The fictitious Karl Hammerschmidt had decided to give the Massenwaldlauf a try in part because there was no stopwatch to measure his achievement—this was a conscious mobilizing strategy employed by the state to make sports more appealing. Yet the BAV Sports Medal, East Germany’s key mass participatory sports honor, was explicitly based on the stopwatch. To complement the BAV Sports Medal program, sports leaders, scholars, doctors, and enterprise managers experimented with incorporating gymnastics breaks into the work day. Although gymnastic breaks never became widespread, the initial interest in their potential reveals how many scholars and trainers understood the link between

Uhlig, 5–13. SML-Dokumente, D 4286, “Werktätiger: Erwirb das Sportleistungsabzeichen ‘Bereit zur Arbeit und zur Verteidigung des Friedens.’ ” 59

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sports and work. Dr. Hans-Joachim Geissler, the director of a special research collective on work and sports at the German College for Physical Culture in Leipzig, prepared detailed diagrams and compiled scientific evidence to demonstrate that physical exercise could result in increased productivity. According to the official reasoning behind the promotion of the gymnastics break, workers performed monotonous and repetitive work for up to eight hours a day. Often, by the afternoon, they felt tired and had poor blood circulation, which decreased their ability to concentrate. Many scholars believed that a break for physical activity could revitalize workers. Geissler encouraged enterprises to sponsor activities such as collective calisthenic exercises, scientifically planned for optimal effect, commencing at seventy minutes after the lunch break, the precise moment (evidence had shown) when productivity often began to fall.61 A series of pamphlets produced by Geissler’s research team encouraged the leaders of group gymnastics exercises to work according to a clear, synchronized, and disciplined plan.62 Dr. Geissler and his commission produced films, organized workshops, and distributed literature at medical conferences and to individual doctors, and the doctors from some enterprises responded with enthusiasm. A sports organizer at the VEB Entwicklungsbau Pirna/Elba wrote to Dr. Geissler to report that her enterprise had recently introduced the gymnastics break during official working hours—three times a week for ten minutes—and noted that workers who participated received full pa y.63 Some enterprises allowed workers to do the planned gymnastics exercises only during the lunch hour, as Werner Holtzschke remembered in an oral interview. He organized lunchtime exercises for workers in his enterprise, the VEB Erzprojekt Leipzig, in the 1950s.64 Dr. Weissbrodt, a specialist for internal medicine at the VEB Leipzig Wollkämmerei, wanted to introduce “Ausgleichsport ” for the 2500 members of his enterprise, and he wrote to Dr. Geissler and his research team for practical assistance. Doctors from the VEB Galvanotechnik Leipzig also wrote to the German College for Physical Culture and asked for a list of other Leipzig enterprises that organized gymnastics breaks 61 Dr. Hans-Joachim Geissler, “Zur Frage der Steigerung der Arbeitsproduktivität: Die Gymnastikpause als wertvoller Bestandteil im Achtstundentag unserer Werktätigen,” TPK 5 (1956): 263. 62 SML-Dokumente, D 3397 a-d, “Ausgleichgymnastik Übungsprogramm.” 63 BAB, DR 5 927, Letter from Dr. L. Schaffranek to Dr. Hans Joachim Geissler, 29 October 1958. 64 Holtzschke, interview.

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so that they could visit these enterprises and receive suggestions. Karl Freytag, the enterprise doctor at both the VEB Mechanische Spielwaren in Brandenburg and the VEB Konsum Waffel und Susswarenfabrik in Brandenburg/Havel reported to Dr. Geissler that the work at these enterprises required much pressing, which strained workers’ bodies. He wanted to introduce gymnastics in order to reduce work-related illness and hoped Geissler could offer practical advice.65 DEFA, the East German film bureau, featured gymnastics breaks in one weekly newsreel, thus giving the movement broader visibility. The newsreel featured female workers at the VEB Triumphator Rechenmaschinenwerk Leipzig-Mölkau who went outside at 10:20 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. every day for ten minute gymnastic breaks that involved holding hands and running around in a circle. The newsreel included diagrams that demonstrated when work productivity began to decrease each day and how the gymnastics breaks would result in a surge in energy and therefore productivity.66 East German political and sports leaders also hoped that the very structure of the BSG—incorporating work and leisure—would promote a collective spirit among workers, heightening their loyalty to their enterprise and their ability to achieve greater work productivity together. Uhlig emphasized the strong links between the cultivation of collectivity through sports and its translation to the work environment where it fostered shop floor solidarity. He argued that the “sports collective” cultivated a spirit of “comradely mutual help” that also improved the “production collective.” According to Uhlig, “In one place, [comradely mutual help] means athletic victory; in the other, heightened work productivity and therefore a better life for all of us.”67 Ideally, participation in BSGs—subject to democratic centralism—would also help workers identify not only with each other but also with the broader collectivity of East Germany. In order to pursue its goals for sports, the GDR was dependent on motivating the individual citizen/worker to participate in its mass sports programs. How, then, did the East German government work to

65 BAB, DR 5 927, Letter from Dr. med. Weissbrodt to Dr. Geissler, 29 August 1958; Letter from Heppe and Roelka, VEB Galvanotechnik Leipzig, to DhfK Abt. Betriebssport, 12 September 1958; Letter from Karl Freytag to DHfK Rektorat Leipzig, 9 July 1958; Letter from Karl Freytag to Herr Doktor Geissler, 25 July 1958. 66 Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv, “Der Augenzeuge 22/1957,” BSP 23537. 67 Uhlig, 9.

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mobilize its citizens to participate in sports? And how did its citizens, many of whom already played sports in the autonomous organizations that predated the Nazis, respond to yet another set of state-sponsored sports programs? “Jedermann an jedem Ort, jede Woche einmal Sport”: Mass Mobilization Campaigns In order for East German leaders to fulfill their vision of using sports to build socialism, they had to ensure that as many East Germans as possible participated in sports. As Rudi Reichert stated, “The primary goal for the development of sports in our republic can be expressed in one standard phrase. It is plain and simple: ‘Everybody plays sports.’ ”68 The process by which the fictitious Karl Hammerschmidt became mobilized for sports—and by extension for socialism—represented the ideal path to mobilization in the eyes of GDR leaders. Karl, initially interested only in watching soccer matches but not engaging in athletic activity himself, first participated in a one-time, non-intimidating athletic event, the Massenwaldlauf, attracted by the promise of a prize and the guarantee of improved health. Then, the sheer act of physical movement inspired his confidence and desire to engage in sports in the future. In the end, the reluctant Karl joined a BSG, participated in a wide array of sports, earned the BAV Sports Medal, and became a sports organizer himself. Thus, the mobilization process began anew. Karl would inspire future workers to participate in a Massenwaldlauf, just as Fritz Doehmke had inspired him. Many of the mass mobilization campaigns in day-to-day life resembled the mobilization of the fictitious Karl Hammerschmidt, specifically the promotion of special athletic events to draw people into sports. As Reichert pointed out, “We think it is an appropriate path when we first win citizens for occasional and then for regular athletic participation.”69 By inviting citizens to participate in sports in informal settings, sports leaders hoped to excite citizens about sports and help them discover their athletic potential. As requested by the State Committee for Physical Culture and Sports, towns and BSGs all over the GDR sponsored the

68 SML-Dokumente, D 3993, “Damit der Sozialismus siegt: Jeder treibt Sport!” Vorwärts (8 December 1958). 69 Ibid.

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Massenwaldlauf every fall and spring as a centerpiece of mass mobilization efforts. Sports leaders in enterprises encouraged their workers to participate, and organizers hung flyers and distributed promotional brochures.70 Sports organizers also sponsored enterprise and neighborhood sports festivals to encourage citizens to adopt organized athletic participation. As a how-to book for local sports organizers pointed out, “The transition from non-athlete to DTSB member must be made easier through certain intermediary steps, if we want to win the majority of the population for sports.”71 Both the Massenwaldlauf and neighborhood sports festivals illustrate that sports organizers hoped that mass athletic events, targeted at non-athletes as well as athletes, would draw more citizens into regular participation in sports. To bring sports to the countryside where sports were sparse in the 1950s, the government sponsored Sports Days for the Rural Population (Sporttage der Landbevölkerung)—as part of a broader drive to modernize the countryside by collectivizing agricultural production and creating culture houses to organize social and cultural activities for farmers. Although the tale “Victory Over One’s Self ” featured urban male workers—the usual public face of the GDR in the 1950s—sports organizers also promoted sports among agricultural workers, who lacked the indigenous sports traditions of Germany’s industrial areas. The SV Traktor, which oversaw the BSGs in the agricultural industry, had responsibility for organizing sports in the countryside. Many of the BSGs were affiliated with LPGs (Agricultural Production Cooperatives) or MTSs (Machine Tractor Stations), the primary organizational units for agricultural work. The SV Traktor identified the Sports Days for the Rural Population as a key activity to draw agricultural workers and their families into sports. These Sports Days were to take place every spring and every fall on the same days throughout all agricultural areas in East Germany. Organizers and sports scholars celebrated the Sports Days as proof that socialism enhanced life for farmers. According to Paul Marschner, a scholar who specialized in rural sports, “It is clear that athletic activity brings positive health and relaxation benefits for productive work in agriculture. . . . It would be completely false to assume that the rural 70 BAB, DR 5 721, “Heraus zum Frühjahrs Massen-Waldlauf ” and “Heraus zum Massen-Waldlauf.” 71 Ralf Florl, Volkssportfest im Wohngebiet (Berlin: Sportverlag Berlin, 1959), 7.

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population does not have this need. Playing sports is not a privilege of the urban dweller alone, but rather the right of all of the workers of our republic.”72 Marschner hoped that farmers would learn the importance of sports, suggesting that “the Sports Day can decisively contribute to overpowering the idea, stemming from capitalist times, that sports are a time-consuming luxury.”73 Many urban BSGs signed “sponsorship agreements” with agricultural communities and collective farms to help them organize their Sports Days.74 The BSG Traktor Neuhausen/Schweinsberg signed an agreement with the LPG Ernst Thälmann to give “practical help and support.” Members of BSGs belonging to SV Motor, SV Fortschritt, and SV Empor in Neukirchen/Schweinsburg volunteered as organizers and referees at the Sports Days. They also set up stations to help agricultural workers fulfill initial requirements for the Sports Medal, such as the long jump. According to the SV Traktor report, the urban athletes did not focus exclusively on the stopwatch or the tape measure; instead, they offered help and explained to farmers how to perform unfamiliar exercises. Urban representatives showed children in Mestlin how to use the javelin and the discus, neither of which the children had ever before seen.75 Sports organizers also pinpointed summer vacations as ideal times for citizen participation in sports. The inclusion of vacations into mass mobilization drives underscored the SED’s commitment to constant, total mobilization. Vacations, like so much else in East German life, depended on the enterprise. Most citizens went to state-owned vacation settlements on the Baltic Sea and gained vacation slots through their enterprise-based membership in the FDGB. At these vacation settlements, workers were not to relax on their own, read novels, or sleep in late, but instead to participate in “active relaxation” (aktive Erholung)

72 Paul Marschner, “Der Sporttag der Landbevölkerung—ein Höhepunkt des Massensportes auf dem Lande,” TPK 4 (March 1955): 176. 73 Ibid., 174. 74 For more on campaigns to use industrial workers to help modernize and build socialism in the countryside, see Gregory R. Witkowski, “On the Campaign Trail: State Planning and Eigen-Sinn in a Communist Campaign to Transform the East German Countryside,” Central European History 37, no. 3 (2004): 400–422. 75 Stiftung Archiv der Parteien und Massenorganisationen der DDR im Bundesarchiv (hereafter SAPMO-BArch), DY 44 10/418/7970, “1. Sporttag der Landbevölkerung, 1953.”

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in the form of state-organized sports. An article offering advice to sports organizers who worked at the Baltic Sea was particularly focused on discouraging “sun-bathing fanatics” and their “passive sweltering in the sun,” insisting instead that citizens engage in proper physical exercises in the fresh air during vacation. To this end, sports organizers initiated athletic activities ranging from early morning gymnastics exercises on the beach to weekend sports festivals at which citizens could fulfill the requirements of the BAV Sports Medal or a special vacation medal.76 Organizers also saw winter vacations, like summer vacations, as ideal mass mobilization activities. Just as organizers scolded “sunbathing fanatics” for unhealthy laziness during summer vacation, they also chastised winter vacationers who remained inside their mountain cabins by the fire rather than enjoying the great outdoors. A promotional pamphlet encouraging citizens on winter vacation to work towards the winter sports medal featured a cartoon of three men, one holding skis, peering inside a winter hut, where a very overweight man sleeps by the furnace, with an elaborate spider web spread over him. “We do not want to sit idly by the furnace, but rather benefit our health through winter sports,” reads the caption. The message of the cartoon was clear: rather than lying around, citizens should be outside in the fresh air, participating in one of the many sporting opportunities, whether cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, sledding, or speed skating. Promotional brochures also emphasized that workers who enjoyed themselves while on vacation should return home and continue to play sports in a BSG.77 To recognize participation in mass mobilization events such as the Massenwaldlauf, neighborhood sports festivals, Sports Days for the Rural Population, and summer and winter vacation festivals, state sports organizers often awarded medals to citizens. They understood these medals as encouragement of continued participation in sports. In an article on vacation sports, Ingeburg Wonneberger, scholar at the German College for Physical Culture, highlighted the importance of getting medals into

76 Lieselotte Zimmermann and Horst Pönisch, “Massensportarbeit am Ostseestrand,” TPK 4 (May 1955): 379. Shelley Baranowski notes that the Nazi program “Strength through Joy” likewise promoted vacations as opportunities for building the racial community, not for personal pleasure. See Strength through Joy, 143, 159. 77 BAB, DR 5 721, “Heraus zum Massen-Wintersport.”

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the hands of many citizens to build their confidence and draw them into further organized athletics. She advocated that, Everybody should have the opportunity to win a prize. . . . Many people are too shy to participate in a sports festival. . . . However, if they have the opportunity to win a mass sports medal, with even minimal accomplishments, then there will surely be an increase in their participation in vacation sports festivals.78

Each year, Massenwaldlauf participants received over 500,000 medals,79 and Massenwaldlauf promotional brochures often highlighted the promise of a medal. One cartoon shows a thin man and an overweight man running, and the thin man says “Persevere, colleague, and then you will also be a contender for the Massenwaldlauf medal!” Another cartoon declared “The attractive medal awaits you as a reward for this fast Sunday outing.”80 The frequency with which citizens could receive awards enabled sports organizers to replace old medals and certificates, produced by the autonomous middle-class and working-class sports clubs of German history, with new medals that emphasized citizens’ new status as East Germans. By making the mass medals so easy to win—often through simple participation—the state thus aimed to get these new markers of East German socialism into as many hands as possible. Over the course of the GDR years, the state placed a truly impressive number of medals into its citizens’ hands. During an oral interview in 2004, Lothar and Christa Finze poured out a container that stored their many sports medals, and the medals covered their entire dining room table.81 Sports organizers also made it possible for athletes to fulfill one of the requirements for the BAV Sports Medal at these mass events. For example, summer vacation organizers at the beach set up long jump stations and invited citizens to test their abilities. The organizers hoped that a small taste of athletic accomplishment—fulfilling an initial requirement for the Medal—would build the confidence of citizens and inspire 78 Ingeburg Wonneberger, “Gedanken zu einem Programm für den Massensport und einige Bemerkungen über die Bedingungen des Sportleistungsabzeichens,” TPK 4 (February 1955): 106. 79 BAB, DR 5 44, Sekretariatssitzung 17 February 1953, “Frühjahrs-Massenwaldläufe am 26. April 1953.” 80 BAB, DR 5 721, “Heraus zum Frühjahrs-Massen-Waldlauf ”and “Heraus zum Massen-Waldlauf.” 81 Finze and Finze, interview.

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them to fulfill the remaining requirements when they returned home.82 In this way, what was on the surface a one-time event became instead a gateway to future athletic participation in state-sponsored programs. In addition to organizing special events and promising awards, East German sports recruiters celebrated the health benefits of sports in enterprise lectures, newsreels, newspaper and magazine articles, and promotions for organized sports events. One slogan in a promotional brochure for the mass winter sports medal echoed the advice that the enterprise doctor gave the fictitious Karl Hammerschmidt and his colleagues: “Engage in physical culture and sports as counterbalance to the one-sided, physical demands of work.”83 Cartoons featured in the Massenwaldlauf promotional brochures celebrated the general health and psychological improvements brought by sports, such as “Only healthy people can be happy. Therefore, you, too, should enhance your health through athletic participation.” Cartoons trumpeted the potential usefulness of improved athletic ability in meeting the unexpected challenges of daily life. One cartoon highlighted a man chasing a bus in vain, with the caption: “Man, if you had participated in the Waldlauf yesterday, you would have caught that bus today!” Other cartoons appealed to vanity, highlighting how sports could transform physical appearance. One shows a middle-aged man bent forward examining his leg, with the caption, “Emma, bring me the tape measure. I think that after today’s Waldlauf, my calves have already gotten bigger!”84 The government’s long-term goal in its mass mobilization campaigns was to encourage citizens to build on their participation in vacation sports or special events by joining BSGs and engaging in regular sports. To enable this result, the enterprises of East Germany played a significant role in funding BSGs and encouraging sports activities. All enterprises had to provide financial support to a BSG. This subsidy made sports participation affordable for citizens, who paid only 1,30 DM a month as adults and 0,80 DM a month as youths. In addition to supporting BSGs, enterprises directly sponsored many activities. Soccer player Horst Heck worked for the nitrogen plant in Wittenberg and organized a football tournament for his fellow workers. The plant that

82 83 84

Wonneberger, 107–108. BAB, DR 5 721, “Heraus zum Massen-Wintersport.” BAB, DR 5 721, “Heraus zum Frühjahrs-Massen-Waldlauf.”

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employed track athlete Wilfried Gärtner made a sports field available for practices and also let athletes rent vehicles to transport teams and equipment at minimal cost. Werner Holtzschke’s company paid for bowling evenings for his work brigade. Holtzschke, in his role as an intermediary between his BSG, Einheit Zentrum, and VEB Erzprojekt Leipzig, his employer and the BSG’s sponsoring enterprise, also organized sports festivals for the workers of his enterprise, prepared slide slows and bulletin boards promoting sports, and helped oversee the competition for best socialist brigade inside the enterprise.85 Lothar Finze remembers BAV-related activities at enterprise sports festivals.86 Through such required activities, the government and sports leaders ensured that, after initial sports participation and modest success, citizens had many opportunities to continue athletic participation through BSGs and enterprise-based activities. The story “Victory Over One’s Self ” and the GDR’s actual promotional campaigns both underscore the conviction of East German sports organizers that they could successfully mobilize all citizens for sports by offering centralized athletic events all over the GDR, awarding medals, and demonstrating health benefits. After initial participation in a mass athletic event, these newly mobilized citizens would become active BSG members and earn BAV Sports Medals. They, in turn, would draw other citizens into sports, renewing the mass mobilization process. In the end, the hopes of Walter Ulbricht would be fulfilled: all citizens, all over Germany, would regularly play sports in a BSG. They would spend their leisure time participating in state-sponsored activities, rather than developing identities and loyalties separate from the state, and as a result, they would be better able to contribute to their society through their paramilitary skills and improved work productivity. Yet many questions remain: how successful were the mass mobilization programs of the government? Did previously inactive citizens respond to special events, mass prizes, and promises of better health when they decided to try sports? Did they later join BSGs and win BAV Sports Medals? If they did fulfill these expectations, why did they do so?

85 Manfred Jentzsch, Siegfried Rössner, and Horst Heck, interview by author, Wittenberg, Germany, 17 May 2005; Wilfried Gärtner, interview by author, Wittenberg, Germany, 2 July 2004; Holtzschke, interview. 86 Finze and Finze, interview.

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In short, what did participation in state-sponsored sports mean to the citizens of East Germany? The Successes and Limitations of Mass Mobilization Most published sources constantly celebrated the state’s success in furthering sports participation, even as they emphasized the need for stronger future participation. Because of the positive tone of published sources, one needs to examine unpublished sources and oral history interview sources to gauge the success of mobilization campaigns as well as citizens’ perceptions of their own athletic participation. Some archival files include correspondence between local sports leaders and higher officials about local sports activities. Also, sometimes central authorities traveled to observe local events and compiled reports. These types of files reveal some of the problems the state encountered in using democratic centralism to mobilize its entire population. Oral interviews provide a particularly rich source of insights about citizens’ experiences with state-sponsored sports. Interview sources are not, however, without problems. Some former citizens experience nostalgia for the GDR, which might color their memories. Furthermore, citizens who responded to queries to participate in interviews are those citizens who did play sports. Thus, they are self-selected, rather than representing a true cross-section of the population. Nonetheless, because these citizens’ sports participation so closely resembled the state ideals, as embodied by Fritz Doehmke and Karl Hammerschimdt, it is instructive to interrogate their own narrations of their athletic activities. Furthermore, an exclusive reliance on state-produced archival and published sources carries with it just as many problems as an exclusive use of a handful of oral interviews would bring. Analyzing oral history accounts against each other and against the archival and published record allows the historian a view into the experience of sports from multiple perspectives. Some archival sources reveal considerably more nuance than published sources and propaganda. One instructive example is in documents from the Sports Days for the Rural Population in the early 1950s. Archival records on this mass mobilization drive reveal the clear limits of democratic centralism, rooted in the multiple and often competing responsibilities of local leaders. Although democratic centralism—as represented by the nationwide Massenwaldlauf—worked without a hitch

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in the idealized Karl Hammerschmidt story, archival sources reveal that state sports organizers often encountered many challenges in bringing sports to every corner of the GDR.87 The Sports Days for the Rural Population, organized to bring sports to the countryside in the 1950s, reveal that one of the major limitations of mass mobilization programs was that the state intended to organize many spheres of society, not only sports. Local committees as a result faced the challenge of fulfilling multiple state goals with scarce resources. Despite the assumption that agricultural workers would embrace sports if given the opportunity, the Sports Days for the Rural Population often failed to attract participants. On 26 April 1953, the day of the inaugural Sports Day, representatives from the SV Traktor, the national organization that oversaw sports for agricultural workers, visited the rural counties of Weisswasser and Niesky in the district of Cottbus. To their dismay, in the villages of Muskau, Krauschwitz, and Horka, they encountered no activity at all. When they asked local residents in Horka about the absence of the festival, most responded that they had no idea a festival was even supposed to take place.88 How did the central organizers from SV Traktor explain this problem? For the most part, they blamed local officials, a pattern that characterized relations between national and local leaders in many spheres of life in the GDR. Central officials claimed that most rural residents seemed excited about participation in sports, yet their negligent local officials failed to provide them with opportunities.89 In reality, towns and villages had many reasons not to organize a Sports Day. Some communities lacked financial resources and facilities; the Sports Days were to these communities unfunded state mandates. Others did not have the time to organize the Sports Day, especially

87 For more on the limits of democratic centralism, particularly regarding the persistence of traditional regional identities, see Jan Palmowski, “Regional Identities and the Limits of Democratic Centralism in the GDR,” Journal of Contemporary History 41, no. 3 (2006): 503–526. Alan McDougall also shows how a “vast gulf generally separated centre from periphery” in the context of Free German Youth functionaries. See Youth Politics in East Germany: The Free German Youth Movement 1946–1968 (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), 8. Scott Moranda similarly shows how local residents, asked by the government to maintain hiking trails that led to antifascist sites, were often uncooperative unless the site had some local resonance. See Moranda, 276. 88 SAPMO-BArch, DY 44 10/418/7970, “1. Sporttag der Landbevölkerung, 1953.” 89 Ibid.

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because of other state-mandated obligations. The county sports directors of both Weisswasser and Niesky emphasized that in light of planning for International Workers’ Day, the Massenwaldlauf, and the upcoming Friedensfahrt cycling race, they simply had no energy or time to coordinate a Sports Day.90 The total mobilization of all spheres of social and cultural life, not just sports, could burden local officials with too many responsibilities. Perhaps more significantly, organizers from some towns pointed out that the Sports Days for the Rural Population failed to attract interest and participation because the sports festivals conflicted with the farmers’ springtime agricultural responsibilities. Local sports officials in Weisswasser and Niesky emphasized that 26 April was the height of the planting season and that most prospective festival participants were busy planting potatoes. The town of Mestlin encountered the same problem. Organizers had planned a morning Massenwaldlauf, yet nobody came because the entire town was involved in a potato planting action. Mestlin postponed the event until the afternoon, hoping that at least a few farmers would show up after completing their planting obligations. However, the afternoon participants were almost exclusively children. The town of Walkendorf also had to cancel activities because all local residents were planting potatoes.91 In the end, officials from SV Traktor realized that their optimism about the ease of mass mobilization betrayed a misunderstanding of agricultural life. The officials therefore advised many towns to postpone the Sports Day and the Massenwaldlauf in future years until the month of May, when planting would be complete.92 Yet conflicts persisted, not only in the spring planting season but also in the fall harvesting season. After officials observed the autumn Sports Day for the Rural Population in 1954, they recommended the cancellation of the autumn Sports Days to allow agricultural areas to focus their full attention on the harvest.93 Despite the clear challenges state sports officials encountered in organizing mass mobilization campaigns such as the Sports Days for the Rural Population, many East German citizens did participate in state-

Ibid. Ibid. 92 Ibid. 93 SAPMO-BArch, DY 44 10/419/ 7971, “3. Sporttag der Landbevölkerung, 1954.” 90 91

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sponsored athletic events and play sports. Herr Riedel of the SED had pointed out during the 1947 debates between the Liberal Democratic Party and the SED on whether to reintroduce former sports clubs that “To the youth, it does not matter at all in what form they play sports; the most important thing is that they have the possibility to play sports at all.”94 True to Riedel’s prediction, citizens already predisposed to sports embraced the state’s sporting opportunities and joined BSGs. There were no alternatives to state programs if they wished to play organized, competitive sports. However, as oral interviews reveal, many of these citizens’ motivations for playing sports, reasons for earning the BAV Sports Medal, and interpretations of their sports participation were different than those celebrated by the state. Interviews reveal the state’s significant presence in everyday sports, particularly in compelling citizens to earn the BAV Sports Medal. Yet interviews also reveal that citizens displayed significantly more initiative than state sources indicate. Many citizens blended political savvy—a recognition of the state’s desire for their participation—with what can only be described as predominantly personal and community-based reasons for playing sports. Although these individuals appeared to be properly-mobilized citizens, honing their abilities to contribute to their socialist GDR through the greater paramilitary skills and work productivity that sports developed, they often maintained an autonomous stance vis-à-vis the state in their decision-making. The state thus elicited significant citizen participation, but this participation did not lead all of its citizens to develop the growing socialist consciousness and loyalty to the East German state that the government proclaimed. Many interviewees credited state-sponsored sports with providing them with something to do in the 1950s, a decade before televisions, when the same film would run in the movie theaters for weeks on end. Almost every interview narrator had played “street soccer” in the postwar years, and then became involved in sports clubs as soon as they were available, as a way, they said, to come together with other people and have leisure activity.95 As field hockey player Helga Bennewitz claimed, there was “always something going on” at the sports SML-Dokumente, D 3668, “Antrag der LPD betr. Wiederzulassung von Sportvereinen,” 14 May 1947. 95 See for example, Dieter Stellmacher, interview by author, Göttingen, Germany, 26 May 2005; Peter Hähnel, interview by author, Chemitz, Germany, 10 July 2004; 94

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complex. She emphasized that sports got people off the streets, which were still covered in rubble.96 Yet, interestingly, when asked how they became involved in sports, most did not mention a state-sponsored mass sports activity like a Massenwaldlauf or Sports Day for the Rural Population. Instead, community and familial relationships that predated or were independent from the East German state drove their interest. Several were already involved in sports before the war, such as Siegfried Müller, who first participated in gymnastics with the Hitler Youth.97 Others received encouragement from their parents, such as hockey player Hans-Dietrich Sasse, whose father had raised him and his brothers to be athletic.98 Similarly, volleyball and table tennis player Richard Dietzsch’s father had encouraged him and his brothers to play sports, even though he had been injured in World War One and could no longer participate himself.99 Family influence also led Gisela and Horst Evers to choose rowing as their sport. Both had parents who had rowed before the war, and at the time of the interview, Herr Evers maintained a display case in his dining room featuring his father’s and his own trophies.100 Other athletes did not begin formal sports participation until the late 1940s or 1950s, and yet social relationships, rather than state mass mobilization events, led them to sports. Günther Deckert began cycling because a cyclist in his apartment building encouraged his interest.101 Lothar Finze played street soccer after the war, but then turned to skiing due to the influence of his uncle.102 Helga Bennewitz began playing field hockey after her brother encouraged her to go see “Frau Schmidt,” who trained the girls’ team in her area. Frau Schmidt had played before the war and was eager to coach after the war. Helga’s husband Karl-Heinz Bennewitz played hockey because when his family moved to Leipzig, they

Gerald Iser, interview by author, Wittenberg, Germany, 17 May 2005; Werner Freydonk, interview by author, Wittenberg, Germany, 2 July 2004; Finze and Finze, interview. 96 Karl-Heinz Bennewitz and Helga Bennewitz, interview by author, Leipzig, Germany, 18 May 2005. 97 Müller, interview. 98 Hans-Dietrich Sasse, interview by author, Leipzig, Germany, 12 July 1999. 99 Richard Dietzsch, interview by author, Crimmitschau, Germany, 3 July 2004. 100 Horst Evers and Gisela Evers, interview by author, Berlin, Germany, 28 May 2005. 101 Günther Deckert, interview by author, Wittenberg, Germany, 18 May 2005. 102 Finze and Finze, interview.

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took up residence directly next to the hockey fields, and he saw other children playing and decided to join them.103 On the surface, these citizens’ intense engagement in BSGs seemed to demonstrate the government’s success in drawing citizens to its sports clubs. Yet, the pathways to these clubs were more complicated than the mechanisms of the state’s mass mobilization programs. The end result was what the state wanted—citizens playing sports in BSGs—but citizens arrived there through pre-existing relationships and non-state relationships rather than through the state’s mass mobilization process. Despite state centralization of sports, citizens also showed some selfinitiative in the process of joining a BSG. Werner Holtzschke claimed responsibility for getting his place of work, VEB Erzprojekt, to sponsor his hockey club, BSG Einheit Zentrum Leipzig. He also convinced his co-workers to join the club unless they played specific sports only sponsored by another BSG. This arrangement proved mutually beneficial. Each enterprise had to sponsor a sports club, and his suggestion thus enabled VEB Erzprojekt to fulfill its duties, while also enabling him to combine his work and leisure responsibilities.104 Lothar and Christa Finze, who skied as members of the BSG Reichsbahn Köthen, recalled that the club’s founding members, all of whom had skied before the war, consciously sought out the train station as their sponsoring enterprise once the BSG reorganization became official. They did so because all athletes who belonged to BSGs sponsored by the railways received free travel to and from sporting events. Because Köthen was far from skiing regions, the founding members decided that affiliation with Reichsbahn would save their members substantial money as they pursued training and competition in the distant mountains.105 Clearly, citizens sometimes learned how to work the GDR sports system to their own benefit. Many citizens also continued to refer to their BSGs as “Vereine,” even though the East German government rejected the Verein tradition as bourgeois and embraced socialist mass organizations and democratic centralism. According to Lothar and Christa Finze, many skiers in Köthen continued to say that they were “going to their Verein.” They added that many people saw BSG Reichsbahn Köthen as, in essence, the same sports club that had existed in Köthen since 1927.106 Dieter 103 104 105 106

Bennewitz and Bennewitz, interview. Holtzschke, interview. Finze and Finze, interview. Ibid.

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Stellmacher, who played soccer in Wittenberg in the 1950s, also explained that although the BSGs were legally not the same as the traditional Vereine, many people saw them the same way, and referred to the new BSGs in Wittenberg using the former names of the soccer Vereine “Viktoria” and “Hertha.”107 Some citizens also participated in state-sponsored sports clubs in order to fulfill individual desires. Heinz Rühlicke, for example, chose his sport, artistic cycling (Kunstradfahren) because of a desire to do something “different” from the multitudes that played soccer. Furthermore, he did not want to spend all of his time in his small town of Annaburg. Participating in artistic cycling gave him the opportunity to travel on weekends, with the added appeal that the sport featured many “girls’ teams.”108 Citizens also brought a spectrum of motivations to their pursuit of the BAV Sports Medal, completing requirements for personal, educational, and professional reasons often very disconnected from the state’s goal of heightened work productivity and paramilitarism. All interviewees had earned the BAV Sports Medal, many of them multiple times. This was consistent with standard practice in the GDR. To produce strong statistical results, the government tied the earning of the Sports Medal to institutions, such that it could not be a purely voluntary act. All members of the army and police had to earn the Medal, as did school children and students at every level of their education. Workers at many enterprises worked collectively towards the Medal. Furthermore, statistics about the number of Sports Medals earned were subject to much manipulation to guarantee that more and more people appeared to win the Medal each year.109 In light of the institutionalization of the Sports Medal, oral interviews become necessary in order to gauge how citizens themselves perceived their frequent pursuit of the celebrated Medal.

107 Stellmacher, interview. Jan Palmowski discusses the persistence of local traditions and the local Heimat, even as the government worked to cultivate a socialist Heimat, in “Building an East German Nation: The Construction of a Socialist Heimat, 1945–1961,” Central European History 37, no. 3 (2004): 365–399. The socialist Heimat was ostensibly a collective ideal for all East Germans, yet involved state encouragement of the work of local folklore and hobby groups who often continued to value their local Heimat, not the collective socialist Heimat. 108 Rühlicke, interview. 109 Ehrler and Dickwach, 99.

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Interviews reveal that citizens were well aware of the importance of the Sports Medal to the socialist government. Horst Evers emphasized that the BAV Sports Medal was “calculable.”110 Karl-Heinz Bennewitz remembered that the government liked the statistics that the BAV program provided.111 Interviewees frequently used verbs such as “should” or “must” in conjunction with their anecdotes about pursuing the Sports Medal, although most citizens were quick to insist that there was no actual physical force involved.112 Rather, the state developed a system whereby compliance with state expectations could bring citizens advantages, and non-compliance could bring disadvantages. Hockey player Hans-Dietrich Sasse noted that a club had to demonstrate that enough members won the Medal in order to qualify for participation in competitions.113 Siegfried Müller related that students had to submit proof of earning the Sports Medal in order to continue with higher education after completing secondary school.114 Peter Hähnel remembered that factory sports clubs got to keep more of their membership fees for their own use if their members all won the Sports Medal.115 Werner Holtzschke explained how clubs could be paid premiums from sports authorities in exchange for showing that all members earned the Medal.116 How did these citizens interpret winning the Sports Medal? Were they proud? Indifferent? Some citizens were clearly proud of the Medal. Horst and Gisela Evers emphasized that it was simply an expected aspect of being a good citizen to win the Medal, and that it was embarrassing for those citizens who failed to meet the athletic requirements. During the interview in the Evers’ home, Gisela found her scrapbook from 1958 and showed a black and white photo of herself with outstretched arms featuring her handwritten caption, “Sports Medal Attained!”117 Horst Heck also stated that he had to work hard to earn the Medal and was particularly proud of fulfilling the shot put requirement.118 But on the other end of the spectrum, swimmer Werner Freydonk

Evers and Evers, interview. Bennewitz and Bennewitz, interview. 112 Bennewitz and Bennewitz, interview; Freydonk, interview; Dietzsch, interview; Jentzsch, Rössner, and Heck, interview. 113 Sasse, interview. 114 Müller, interview. 115 Hähnel, interview. 116 Holtzschke, interview. 117 Evers and Evers, interview. 118 Jentzsch, Rössner, and Heck, interview. 110 111

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stated that he only earned the medal because it was expected of him, and he intimated that his club falsified the number of recipients to meet state expectations.119 Karl-Heinz Bennewitz likewise emphasized that citizens often helped each other to meet what were supposed to be individual goals, and that they sometimes lied about results on the long-jump requirement.120 Dieter Stellmacher claimed that nobody ever wore the Medal or gave it special respect, as there were so many different state-sponsored medals that one could win in everyday life.121 Lothar Finze provided the mixed response of “Jein”—a combination of “Ja” for “yes” and “Nein” for “no”—when asked if he was proud of the Medal.122 Track athlete Wilfried Gärtner, went so far as to call the Medal “Mist” or “crap.”123 Despite a spectrum of attitudes towards the BAV Medal, interviews revealed no ambivalence about another aspect of everyday sports: the pride citizens experienced in individual and team victories and achievements in their chosen sports. Wilfried Gärtner highlights this dynamic. Immediately after dismissing the Sports Medal as “crap,” he discussed his pride in reaching the highest classification level for youth runners ( Jugendklasse I ), which made him one of the best runners in the district of Cottbus. He then attained the lowest classification level for elite runners (Leistungsklasse III ). He said that “I am still proud today of that achievement.”124 What Gärtner reveals is that many citizens often placed personal value on athletic achievements related to their individual sports, rather than on programs such as the Sports Medal celebrated by the state. Many interviewees repeated this sentiment. When asked about their proudest sports accomplishments, nobody mentioned the Sports Medal. Soccer goalie Horst Heck remembered a game in Merseberg during which he stopped seven shots on goal and was even congratulated by the opposing team.125 Lothar and Christa Finze from Köthen, a relatively flat region, were pleased at how surprised people were that “flatlanders” performed so well in competitions; both frequently won

119 120 121 122 123 124 125

Freydonk, interview. Bennewitz and Bennewitz, interview. Stellmacher, interview. Finze and Finze, interview. Gärtner, interview. Ibid. Jentzsch, Rössner, and Heck, interview.

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district champions in cross-country skiing.126 Peter Hähnel was proud that he achieved sixth place in 1957 in the youth ninety meter hurdle national championship in Eisenach.127 Karl-Heinz and Helga Bennewitz emphasized the many times that their hockey teams were national champions.128 Soccer player Siegfried Rössner best summed up the pride these citizens had in their athletic achievements, saying that the “best time that one can experience in sports is success.” He bragged about the successes of his soccer team in the 1950s, including not only their victories, but also the crowds of 4000 to 5000 that they attracted for their games.129 His teammate, Dieter Stellmacher, who emigrated to West Germany in the late 1960s, also celebrated the many spectators at soccer competitions in Wittenberg in the 1950s and expressed pride that their soccer team always lost the regional championship only to the team that went on to become national champion.130 Other athletes were also proud of the crowds that they attracted: Werner Freydonk showed photographs of the crowds of spectators at swimming events,131 and Siegfried Müller described how much he enjoyed performing in gymnastics exhibitions at town festivals, proclaiming that the “highest honor” a gymnast could receive was applause. Müller was proud that friends, co-workers, and neighbors commented so positively on his athletic performances.132 Significantly, then, even though the government was very invested in the Sports Medal as the benchmark of its success, memories uncovered in oral interviews reveal alternative measures, including citizens’ competitive achievements and the audiences that they attracted in their chosen sports. The emphasis on attaining victory in individual and team sports also overshadowed the attention that interviewees gave to the presence of political speeches and slogans at events and competitions and of political discussions in BSG meetings. All interviewees understood that the state had political ambitions for its sports programs and particularly understood the importance of the BAV Sports Medal. Some went further and noted their awareness of the state’s use of sports as “social control.” Peter Hähnel believed that the East German government did not like 126 127 128 129 130 131 132

Finze and Finze, interview. Hähnel, interview. Bennewitz and Bennewitz, interview. Jentzsch, Rössner, and Heck, interview. Stellmacher, interview. Freydonk, interview. Müller, interview.

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the German tradition of the independent Verein and instead wanted the government and its enterprises to oversee leisure-time athletic activities. The government wanted a “stable population” and saw sports as a way to “give the development of people a clear orientation” toward health and to keep youth away from the “beer bottle.” He concluded that sponsoring mass sports was a way for the government to “keep everything in its hands.”133 Heinz Rühlicke likewise saw sports as a way in which the government could “keep us all under control.”134 Despite such recognition of the state’s political goals for sports, some interviewees underplayed the influence state political mechanisms had on their sports activities and the pervasiveness of propaganda and official rhetoric. For example, even though Heinz Rühlicke claimed that the government saw sports as a way to control the population, he did not comment during his interview on some clear examples of politicization. When he showed and described photographs from the East German artistic cycling championships that featured very large political slogans in the background—so prominent that they almost dwarfed the photographs—he did not acknowledge these slogans at all. When directly asked how athletes viewed such political slogans, he seemed almost puzzled by the question and answered: “We wanted to win. It was our goal to win.” He then continued narrating the championship. He might have neglected to acknowledge the slogans because they were so pervasive as to be unremarkable. At the same time, it was clear that for him the seriousness of the athletic competition at hand far outweighed the presence of political slogans. He saw the competi135 tion as an athletic event first and foremost, not as a political venue. Soccer player Hans Kupny, who played under both the Nazi and Communist regimes, expressed a similar sentiment when asked about the relationship between sports and state objectives. “A goal is a goal no matter who is in power,” he proclaimed, implying that for him athletic achievements transcended political ideology.136 Other interviewees acknowledged that local sports facilities often featured banners with slogans on them and that slogans were printed on certificates. Lothar and Christa Finze said that there was “always a slogan.”137 Yet, most

133 134 135 136 137

Hähnel, interview. Rühlicke, interview. Ibid. Hans Kupny, interview by author, Wittenberg, Germany, 9 July 2004. Finze and Finze, interview.

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echoed the words of émigré Dieter Stellmacher that the slogans and political signs “simply hung there,” and that nobody paid them any attention.138 Karl Heinz Bennewitz, in fact, described his hockey club as an independent “niche” where citizens could escape state control and the eyes of their work colleagues.139 What is clear from these interviews is that the attraction many citizens had for participation in sports had little to do with becoming “prepared to work and to defend”—the slogan featured on the BAV Sports Medal. The state could—and certainly did—celebrate participation as a mark of engagement in the project of building socialism. Indeed, citizen participation was a political act in that it acknowledged the legitimacy of state structures and reflected an individual’s choice to do what was politically necessary to pursue one’s individual and community goals. Yet participation in state-sponsored activities did not necessarily imply transformation into new socialist personalities, or the development of conscious political loyalties. Most surprising in the interviews was the significance of an element of athletic activity that was not even a part of the questions raised in initial oral interviews: the sociability that sports fostered. As the aforementioned writings of sports scholars such as Rolf Uhlig revealed, political leaders and sports organizers certainly believed that the cooperation displayed by co-workers while participating in team sports could help build workers’ broader loyalty to their work collective. The ultimate goal, however, was for such team spirit to translate to the broader collective of the GDR. State leaders and sports scholars did not celebrate athletic camaraderie as an end unto itself. Yet such camaraderie and sociability became an essential element of how citizens experienced their athletic activities. Seven of the people interviewed had in fact met their marriage partners through sports—Karl-Heinz and Helga Bennewitz, who met playing hockey; Horst and Gisela Evers, who met while rowing; Lothar and Christa Finze, who skied together; and Siegfried Müller, who met his wife through gymnastics.140 Heinz Rühlicke also remembered that his teammates went to a local restaurant after every practice for “drinking festivals,” as well as the many special

Stellmacher, interview. Bennewitz and Bennewitz, interview. 140 Bennewitz and Bennewitz, interview; Finze and Finze, interview; Evers and Evers, interview; Müller, interview. 138 139

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parties and festivals.141 Dieter Stellmacher recalled playing cards and singing on the train rides to soccer matches and how these activities built camaraderie.142 Siegfried Rössner described how the same soccer team gathered after every game at their regular bar, the Schwarzer Bär, regardless of the outcome of the match; they often sang to the accompaniment of a piano player.143 Peter Hähnel remembered nights in a youth hostel after out-of-town events, which were highlighted by singing to the accompaniment of guitars and accordions.144 Werner Holtzschke recalled his club’s yearly Mardi Gras festivals,145 and Horst and Gisela Evers described the Rowing Ball held every year in their club, as well as the celebratory parties at the beginning and end of the season.146 Many interviewees built lasting friendships through sports. More than a decade and a half after the collapse of East Germany, hockey players from Leipzig and soccer players from Wittenberg still gathered for annual reunions, and even Dieter Stellmacher, who emigrated to the West, met regularly with his former teammates from Wittenberg.147 Sporting friendships thus transcended the state border and decades of geographical separation and political division. Conclusion Walter Ulbricht’s goal that all citizens play sports reflected the government’s very political interest in mass participatory sports. It wanted its citizens to participate in state-sponsored leisure activities that cultivated paramilitary skills and work productivity, and it employed mechanisms of democratic centralism to plan mass mobilization activities throughout the GDR to draw its citizens to sports. Almost all citizens participated in state-sponsored sports to some extent, usually winning the BAV Sports Medal. Many citizens took sports participation even further, joining BSGs, and training, competing, and socializing with their teammates. On the surface, these citizens appeared to be fulfilling state goals. The state was, indeed, an undeniable presence in their athletic activi-

141 142 143 144 145 146 147

Rühlicke, interview. Stellmacher, interview. Jentzsch, Rössner, and Heck, interview. Hähnel, interview. Holtzschke, interview. Evers and Evers, interview. Bennewitz and Bennewitz, interview; Stellmacher, interview.

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ties, as they were compelled to earn the BAV Sports Medal and march in parades to protect their status at work and their access to athletic opportunities. Citizens also remembered the frequent political slogans at large athletic events. Yet most citizens narrated their athletic experiences with only a partial focus on the state’s goals for their athletic participation. More frequently, citizens focused on pride in competition and enjoyment of social opportunities that participation brought. Furthermore, their paths to sports participation often did not stem from the state’s mass mobilization activities, but in familial and neighborhood relationships. Despite the state’s overwhelming presence in creating new structures for sports and requiring that citizens perform certain activities, citizens nonetheless continued to exercise a degree of autonomy in their leisure time, particularly in the value they placed on their experiences, focusing more on individual and community pride than on how their activities related to the socialist state and economy. The power of the state was thus profound in restructuring sports and commanding citizen participation, yet it was ultimately unable to determine the meanings that citizens ascribed to their athletic activities.

CHAPTER THREE

VOLUNTARY CAMPAIGNS AND SOCIALIST SOCIETY On 20 January 1950 the Central Committee of the SED pledged to build a Sportforum in the city of Leipzig. The Sportforum would consist of a College for Physical Culture, numerous indoor and outdoor athletic facilities, swim and hockey stadiums, and a Zentralstadion (Central Stadium) that would seat 100,000 people, making it the largest stadium in East or West Germany and one of the largest in the world. On 6 April 1950 work began as workers and volunteers cleared war rubble from the fields. Builders used some of the war rubble in the construction of the Zentralstadion, which gave Party leaders a perfect metaphor for building socialism out of the ruins of fascism. Construction workers and volunteers completed the Zentralstadion, the crowning achievement of the Sportforum, in a burst of productivity between March 1955 and August 1956, when local and national SED leaders inaugurated it as the site of East Germany’s Second Gymnastics and Sports Festival.1 The most highly celebrated elements of the stadium project were the countless voluntary work actions ( freiwillige Arbeitseinsätze) completed by ordinary East German citizens in response to state campaigns to encourage their participation. According to some estimates, citizens completed more than 500,000 voluntary work hours at the Zentralstadion.2 Radio reports, posters, newsreels, and newspapers repeatedly praised the efforts of voluntary workers. Neues Deutschland, the national newspaper, issued a progress report complete with pictures for each of the more than sixty weeks of the stadium construction project.3 The SED used the “voluntary work actions” to portray the building of the

1 Stadtarchiv Leipzig, Stadtverordnetenversammlung und Rat der Stadt Leipzig (hereafter StVuR) (1) 10763, “Denkschrift über die Errichtung des Grossstadions und der Deutschen Hochschule für Körperkultur auf dem Gelände der Frankfurter Wiesen,” Bl. 15–17. 2 Sportmuseum Leipzig, Turnfest Archiv (hereafter SML-TSF-A), AOrgbDTSF II-1956, 9/1, “Unsere Bildreportage vom Leipziger Stadionbau/Nr. 59: Eine halbe Million Aufbaustunden überschritten,” Vorwärts, 2 July 1956. 3 An almost complete set of the Vorwärts clippings, collected by the organizers of the 1956 Gymnastics and Sports Festival, can be found in SML-TSF-A, AOrgbDTSF II-1956, 9/1.

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Zentralstadion—and by extension the building of socialism in East Germany—as a joint effort of state initiative and grassroots participation. A book celebrating the completion of the stadium proclaimed, “Through these voluntary unpaid contributions, citizens demonstrated how they worked collectively to fulfill the resolutions of the state.”4 Such “voluntary unpaid” work had an inherently ambiguous nature. Citizens ostensibly “volunteered,” yet their work was highly structured and often somewhat compulsory. The state took a direct role in organizing and encouraging voluntary work, calculated and documented such work, and celebrated it as a political act. Party leaders saw volunteering for projects such as the Zentralstadion and myriads of other projects outside the world of sports as integral to proper socialist citizenship. Voluntarism was a “social contribution” that all citizens should make, and the state promoted voluntarism not only to save money, but also as an ideological strategy to encourage the participation of citizens in the “building of socialism.” A study of how voluntarism functioned on a day-to-day basis thus illuminates much about state-society relations and everyday socialist culture in the 1950s. The government expected voluntary work from its citizens, and it learned to appeal to citizens’ individual and communal self-interest, sense of local pride, and respect for historical tradition to encourage their voluntary work. Most citizens understood the benefits that fulfilling the state’s expectations could bring, and they duly performed voluntary work on state-sponsored construction projects. Citizens also learned to track and report construction and maintenance work on their own club facilities as voluntary work actions. Even fifteen years after German reunification, some citizens still used the state’s terminology of voluntarism in oral history interviews. This chapter argues that most citizens who performed voluntary work on sports facilities did so for individual and community reasons or due to necessity, not out of a desire to contribute to socialism. Furthermore, they often disassociated their work from government encouragement and instead experienced significant local, club, and individual pride in their voluntary accomplishments. Thus, an analysis of state-sponsored voluntary work, like the BAV Sports Medal, reveals the limits of the

4 Sportforum Kollektiv Leipzig, ed., Sportforum Leipzig: Stätte des II. Deutschen Turn und Sportfestes vom 2–6. August 1956 (n.p., 1956), 37.

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state, in that many citizens took pride in their work as a primarily local, not state, accomplishment. State Goals: Managing Shortages and Mobilizing Citizens The East German state had both economic and ideological motivations for organizing voluntarism. Persistent economic problems, including a lack of funds, inadequate athletic facilities, and deficient materials, produced the initial need for voluntary work actions. Although the East German state was committed to sports as a form of state building and mass mobilization, its sports programs were expensive, which was particularly problematic in light of the economic challenges of the 1950s. Even as East Germany worked to bolster economic productivity, it also sought to encourage frugality (Sparsamkeit). In February 1953, the SED’s Central Committee issued a proclamation that mandated frugality and encouraged voluntary work actions in order to economize.5 In Walter Ulbricht’s “Ten Commandments for the New Socialist Person,” frugality was the seventh.6 Central sports authorities encouraged local sports organizers to adhere to such principals as they built their facilities and organized their programs. Although “voluntary” implies eager and committed service to a larger community, “voluntary” also means work done without monetary compensation. One of the chief motivations for the Leipzig city council’s organization of voluntary work actions was to save money by using cheap labor. In 1952, the Aufbau division of the Leipzig city council calculated how much money the city saved from voluntary work actions at the stadium construction site, considering each hour of voluntary work as worth approximately .65 DM. By the council’s calculations, if 1,200 people worked every Saturday and Sunday for 4 hours, and if 300 people worked for two hours each evening during the week, then the city council would benefit from 460,000 voluntary

5 Stadtarchiv Leipzig, StVuR (1) 1844, Letter from Steckel to Bayer, “Betr.: Feldzug der strengsten Sparsamkeit,” Bl. 16. See also Peter Hübner, Konsens, Konflikt und Kompromiss: Soziale Arbeiterinteressen und Sozialpolitik in der SBZ/DDR 1945–1970 (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1995), 150. 6 Stiftung Archiv der Parteien und Massenorganisationen der DDR im Bundesarchiv (hereafter SAPMO-BArch), DY 24 1537, “Zehn Gebote für den neuen sozialistischen Menschen.”

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work hours during the remainder of the year, yielding a net savings of almost 300,000 DM.7 Leipzig was not alone. The use of voluntary work actions to shift financial responsibilities onto the population characterized construction projects throughout East Germany. In August 1952, the State Committee for Physical Culture and Sports instructed the chair of the county committee in the city of Plauen to organize “an ongoing work action to complete the sports stadium in Plauen.” The State Committee gave Plauen 20,000 DM in order to pay for stadium materials, but required that athletes and the residents of Plauen perform the physical work of building the stadium in order to save 50,000 DM in labor costs.8 State efforts to encourage citizens and participants to cover costs influenced not only the building of sports facilities, but also the funding of the Gymnastics and Sports Festivals in Leipzig, among the premier East German festivals during the 1950s. The government, despite its orchestration of the festivals as rituals of state, aimed to contribute as little money as possible. According to official plans, the Gymnastics and Sports Festival in 1956 required collections, donations, participant contributions, admission fees, and finally government supplements.9 Collections and donations—voluntary contributions of money—achieved top priority; the least significant contributor of funds was the state, which provided “supplements” rather than crucial funding. Introduced in 1959, the practice of self-financing (Eigenfinanzierung) became standard for each sports club in the GDR, requiring members to raise money to cover their transportation and housing costs and participation fees at the sports festivals in Leipzig.10 The state encouraged voluntary work and voluntary donations not only to save money, but also as a way to mobilize East German citizens, particularly non-athletes, to “build socialism.” In theory, shifting responsibility onto the citizens not only saved the state money, but also gave people a greater sense of identification with state-initiated projects, thereby aiding mass mobilization. Voluntarism could also foster 7

13r.

Stadtarchiv Leipzig StVuR (1) 5112, “Freiwilliger Bevölkerungseinsatz,” Bl. 13,

8 Bundesarchiv Berlin, DR 5 19, “Bericht über die Bauvorhaben im Stadion Plauen, Gera und Rudolf-Harbig-Stadion Dresden.” 9 SML-TSF-A, AOrgbDTSF II-1956, 11/2, “Finanzen/Sammelaktion.” 10 Sportmuseum Leipzig-Dokumente (hereafter SML-Dokumente) D 1043, “Deutscher Turn- und Sportbund, Richtlinien für die Sammelaktion und Eigenfinanzierung des III. Deutschen Turn- und Sportfestes 1959.”

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collective experiences and loyalties in the East German population. As a Neues Deutschland report on the building of the Zentralstadion noted, “the combination of conscientious and hard work and the voluntary work action created a unique atmosphere of cheerful responsibility that . . . gave the construction site the character of a socialist construction site.”11 Local voluntary work could bring similar benefits. The SV Medizin praised the tennis sections of the BSGs in Plauen, Suhl, and Potsdam for performing voluntary work actions to help renovate their facilities, proclaiming that collective participation had “resulted above all in a strong feeling of solidarity between medical experts and their employees in health care enterprises.”12 In East Germany in the 1950s, voluntary work actions, as both a financial and mass mobilization strategy, went far beyond the Zentralstadion project and work on local sports facilities. The first significant state-sponsored voluntary work project was the Stalinallee construction project, begun in Berlin in 1951. The National Building Corps (Nationales Aufbauwerk) was created at this time to coordinate citizens’ voluntary efforts on Stalinallee. The National Building Corps soon expanded to coordinate voluntary labor on construction projects in towns and cities throughout the GDR. Among other celebrated voluntary work projects in the GDR was the construction of the Buchenwald Memorial in 1958.13 East Germany was certainly not the only twentieth-century dictatorship that found state-sponsored voluntarism—and the mass participation and community spirit it fostered—of political benefit. Most modern states, including dictatorships, strive to achieve legitimacy not through appeals to divine right, military victory, or control over the secret police, but rather through promising to meet the needs of their citizens. As a result, many states celebrate citizen engagement in voluntary programs

SML-TSF-A, AOrgbDTSF II-1956, 9/1, “Unsere Bildreportage vom Leipziger Stadionbau/Nr. 40: ‘Frost—unwillkommener Gast im Stadion,’ ” Vorwärts, 6 February 1956. 12 SAPMO-BArch, DY 41 7/132/2853, “Investitionen.” 13 For information on Stalinallee, see Doris Müller, “ ‘Wir bauen die erste sozialistische Strasse Berlins’: Die Stalinallee in der politischen Propaganda im ersten Jahr des ‘Nationalen Aufbauprogramms Berlin 1952,’ ” in Parteiauftrag: Ein neues Deutschland: Bilder, Rituale und Symbole der frühen DDR, ed. Dieter Vorsteher (Berlin: Deutsches Historisches Museum, 1996), 369–388. For information on the Buchenwald Memorial, see Alan Nothnagle, Building the East German Myth: Historical Mythology and Youth Propaganda in the German Democratic Republic, 1945–1989 (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1999), 108–110. 11

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as a demonstration of willing participation in and support for state projects; voluntarism thus legitimates state rule for being an expression of the popular will. The Third Reich, for example, sponsored such initiatives as “Winter Aid,” which encouraged citizens to support winter relief programs by voluntarily contributing a portion of their paychecks to the state and by giving up meat on Sundays and donating the saved money. Winter Aid promised to increase feelings of connection to fellow members of the national community.14 Hitler was also greatly impressed by the mid-nineteenth century fundraising drives to build the nationalist monument known as the Hermannsdenkmal. Fundraisers for the monument had written letters to the best pupil of every high school in Germany to encourage that student to collect pledges, and Hitler hoped to use a similar subscription strategy to build his monumental Dome in Berlin.15 The Soviet Union also organized “voluntary” projects, known in the Soviet Union as the subbotnik, to save money, to enable the timely completion of projects, and to cultivate a spirit of mass participation and collective spirit. One celebrated example of voluntary work in the Soviet Union was the “Reconstruction of Moscow” plan launched in 1931. The many associated projects included the construction of several new sports stadiums and an expanded metro system, both of which relied significantly on voluntary workers. Their participation transformed the endeavor into a widely publicized mass mobilization project.16 As in the Soviet Union, East German leaders found voluntarism and voluntary work actions appealing as a strategy to compensate for shortages and to complete projects in a timely manner. However, the state-organized voluntary drives were not mere efforts to save money. 14 Detlev J. K. Peukert, Inside Nazi Germany: Conformity, Opposition, and Racism in Everyday Life (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982), 194, 244. For more on Winter Aid in Nazi Germany, see Joe Perry, “Nazifying Christmas: Political Culture and Popular Celebration in the Third Reich,” Central European History 38, no. 4 (2005): 572–605. Petra Terhoeven compares National Socialist and Italian fascist organization of voluntarism in “‘Nicht spenden, opfern’: Spendenkampagnen im faschistischen Italien und im nationalsozialistischen Deutschland als Disziplinierungs- und Integrationsinstrument” in Faschismus in Italien und Deutschland: Studien zu Transfer und Vergleich, ed. Sven Reichardt and Armin Nolzen (Göttingen: Wallstein, 2005), 59–93. 15 George L. Mosse, The Nationalization of the Masses: Political Symbolism and Mass Movements in Germany from the Napoleonic Wars through the Third Reich (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1975), 60–61. 16 See Mike O’Mahony, Sport in the USSR: Physical Culture —Visual Culture (London: Reaktion Books, 2006), chapter 4. O’Mahony, an art historian, also analyzes the many athletic motifs featured on several of the new metro stations.

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Building and legitimating the new state depended on mass mobilization, and state-organized voluntarism was one strategy used by the state to encourage mass participation, to create circumstances in which the state and its citizens worked together to fulfill common goals, and to give citizens a personal stake in collective state accomplishments. The ZENTRALSTADION Campaign: The Model Voluntary Work Action Government and sports leaders celebrated the construction of the 100,000 seat Zentralstadion in the city of Leipzig in 1955 and 1956 as the ultimate proof of what citizens could accomplish through voluntary labor. Although most of the volunteer workers were based in Leipzig and surrounding areas, the government used extensive media coverage to cast the construction of the Zentralstadion as a national project. The documentary record contains some evidence of citizen complaint and lack of interest. One SED representative overheard a man dining in a Leipzig restaurant complain that the 1956 Gymnastics and Sports Festival should be postponed a year, so that the stadium would not need to be built in such a hurry.17 Other local residents suggested that the government should focus on building apartment buildings, not a sports stadium.18 All in all, however, the rapid construction of the Zentralstadion through unpaid citizen labor, and its role as central venue for the 1956 Gymnastics and Sports Festival, captured the enthusiasm of many residents of the city of Leipzig and citizens of the GDR. It demonstrated the full potential of mass mobilization efforts, combining the state’s organization of citizen participation with its widespread celebration of this achievement in state-controlled media. The Zentralstadion project reveals the complex mixture of willingness and obligation that defined voluntary work. Local officials did not wait for citizens to stop by the stadium construction site on Saturday afternoon and shovel a few piles of dirt before heading home for coffee, or to drop change into the collection bucket after buying the morning newspaper. Rather, they carefully coordinated voluntarism. An analysis

SächsStAL, SED IV 15/01/527, “Stimmung der Bevölkerung zum II. Deutschen Turn- und Sportfest,” 2 August 1956. 18 SächsStAL, SED IV 15/01/527, “Bericht über das II. Deutsche Turn- und Sportfest,” 4 August 1956. 17

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of the cooperation of various sports and festival organizations to coordinate volunteers highlights the tightly-organized structure of voluntary work actions and the ambiguous nature of their “voluntary” status. Launched in March 1955 with a deadline for completion in August 1956, the Zentralstadion project required thousands of skilled and unskilled volunteers. Local organizers had to recruit appropriate voluntary laborers and coordinate their efforts, and sports officials encouraged each sports club in Leipzig to turn out en masse for weekend voluntary work actions.19 Because of the need for skilled construction specialists, the Leipzig city council requested that each enterprise in the city and surrounding areas “delegate” one or two workers for long-term service at the construction site. Especially needed were bricklayers, carpenters, painters, metalworkers, pipe fitters, plumbers, and landscape architects.20 The city council also encouraged local trade schools to send trainees to the construction site.21 Encouragement of voluntary work went beyond the actual stadium site. Factory workers often took over the normal work duties of their co-workers who had been delegated for long-term work at the construction site as extra work for themselves; the state celebrated such substitute work as a voluntary contribution. For example, VEB Farben und Lackfabrik Leutzsch delegated a worker to the construction site from 15 August until 22 October 1955, and the remaining colleagues in the factory took over his work, which was registered as 500 voluntary hours.22 It was also common for local enterprises to sponsor a compo19 See SML-Dokumente, D 5002, “Wir bauen unser Stadion: Jede BSG delegiert einen Sportler zur ständigen Mitarbeit,” Leipziger Volkszeitung, 27 July 1955, and SMLDokumente, D 5002, “Wir bauen unser Stadion: Am Wochenende: SV Lokomotive,” Leipziger Volkszeitung, 5 August 1955. The Sports Association Lokomotive and its sponsoring enterprise, IG Transport and Verkehr, were the first sports clubs and enterprises delegated for weekend voluntary work actions. In ensuing months, most other sports clubs and their sponsoring enterprises conducted similar voluntary work actions. The Sportmuseum Leipzig holds a scrapbook, prepared by a local GDR sports functionary, including all Leipziger Volkszeitung articles on the construction of the Zentralstadion in 1955–1956 and on the 1956 Gymnastics and Sports Festival. The Leipziger Volkszeitung covered almost every work action associated with construction of the stadium in 1955–56. 20 Stadtarchiv Leipzig StVuR(1) 4250, “Arbeitsprogramm für das NAW 1956,” Bl. 62. 21 SML-TSF-A, AOrgbDTSF II-1956, 9/1, “Unsere Bildreportage vom Leipziger Stadionbau/Nr. 48: ‘Dringlich nach wie vor: Ganztagseinsätze!’ ” Vorwärts, 16 April 1956. 22 SML-TSF-A, AOrgbDTSF II-1956, 9/1, “Unsere Bildreportage vom Leipziger Stadionbau/Nr. 156: ‘Der Turm der Arbeiter—das geht klar!’ ” Vorwärts, 15 August 1955.

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nent of the stadium that they would prepare in their factory, or that they would fund through financial contributions. The S. M. KirowWerk II in Böhlitz-Ehrenberg pledged to pay for one of the four large stadium lights.23 Some workers gave up an hour of pay or performed overtime work and donated their wages. The newsletters publicizing the 1956 festival pointed out that a number of local enterprises had pledged themselves to do special shifts in honor of the festival. The pay for these shifts—which counted as voluntary work hours—would be transferred into sports festival funds. Among the countless enterprises who made such pledges all around East Germany were Brigade I of MTS Lübstorf in the district of Schwerin, the youth brigade of the MTS Schwaan, and the MTS Bülow-Rehna. One hundred athletes from the BSG “Motor” Karl-Marx-Stadt also promised one hour of pay to the stadium.24 As this brief discussion demonstrates, state-initiated “voluntarism” was a somewhat ambiguous concept in that it was simultaneously voluntary—one was not physically forced to contribute and one was not paid—yet it was understood as one of the expected “duties” of the good citizen and good worker. Historian Stephen Kotkin points out in his study of work brigades at the Magnitogorsk metal works in the Soviet Union in the 1930s that, “work was not simply a material necessity but also a civic obligation.” Kotkin stresses that activism in politics and production was expected of workers, as was taking part in periodic subbotniks and making voluntary contributions to state loan programs.25 The ambiguity of voluntarism is seen in the language of newsletters and other documents from the 1950s that exhorted citizens to contribute. One common verb was “verpflichten sich,” which means “to pledge one’s self ” or “to promise” to do something. The newsletters publicizing the 1956 Gymnastics and Sports Festival often listed the “Verpflichtungen”— pledges or promises—of local residents, for example praising “Friend of Sports” Nitschke, an athlete from the BSG Stahl Stalinstadt who initiated a whole movement of pledges in the Eisenhüttenkombinat J. W. Stalin by donating the proceeds of fifty hours of work in his job as

SML-TSF-A, AOrgbDTSF II-1956, 9/1, Vorwärts, 8 August 1955. SML-Dokumente, D 1813, II. Deutsches Turn- und Sportfest, Informationsblatt des Organisations-Büros, Nr. 5 (Leipzig, 14 April 1956). 25 See Stephen Kotkin, Magnetic Mountain: Stalinism as a Civilization (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997), 202, 222. 23

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a welder. His colleagues Hudler and Jacobs in the same division followed his model by also “pledging themselves” to donate fifty hours.26 On the other hand, “Verpflichtungen” also can be translated as “obligations,” and indeed many internal files mandate the “freiwillige Verpflichtungen” (voluntary obligations) assigned to various groups, ranging from bakers to printers.27 The word “delegiert” (delegated), used to refer to the process by which employers sent sports clubs members and enterprise workers to the construction site, also reflects the extent to which there was a noncompulsory yet highly obligatory nature to voluntary work actions. Finally, the word “Einsatz,” as used in the context of “voluntary work actions” ( freiwillige Arbeitseinsätze), reveals that voluntarism, while not compulsory, was very highly organized and hardly left to the whims of citizens. “Einsatz” can be translated neutrally, as in “assignment,” “deployment,” or “action” but also carried with it in the East German context connotations of quasi-militaristic zeal and purpose. Indeed, other translations for Einsatz include “mission,” “fight,” or “struggle,” all of which convey a sense of serious purpose that should be pursued by the entire citizenry.28 Oral interview evidence confirms the somewhat compulsory nature of citizens’ voluntary work building the Zentralstadion. Field hockey player Hans-Dietrich Sasse remembered completing one of his major examinations as a brick layer trainee while doing voluntary work at the Zentralstadion. The work, he said, was not entirely voluntary, but rather a necessity to gain the right to take his exam.29 Soccer player Dieter Stellmacher, who met his wife when he moved to Leipzig in the 1960s,

26 SML-Dokumente, D 1813, II. Deutsches Turn- und Sportfest, Informationsblatt des Organisations-Büros, Nr. 5 (Leipzig, 14 April 1956). 27 Stadtarchiv Leipzig StVuR(1) 4256, “Operativsabteilung II. Deutsches Turn- und Sportfest am 12.5.1956,” Bl. 9. Shelley Baranowski discusses how workers were similarly required to “volunteer” time to National Socialist Beauty of Labor projects including maintaining and improving factories and facilities. See Strength through Joy: Consumerism and Mass Tourism in the Third Reich (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 115. 28 The most notorious twentieth-century use of Einsatz is, of course, the Einsatzgruppen that followed the German Wehrmacht into the Soviet Union to carry out the “Final Solution.” For more on militarism in the GDR, see Corey Ross, “‘Protecting the Accomplishments of Socialism’?: The (Re)militarization of Life in the German Democratic Republic,” in The Workers’ and Peasants’ State: Communism and Society in East Germany under Ulbricht, 1945–71, ed. Patrick Major and Jonathon Osmond (Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 2002), 78–93. 29 Hans-Dietrich Sasse, interview by Molly Wilkinson Johnson (hereafter author), Leipzig, Germany, 11 July 1999.

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indicated that she had told him about the voluntary work she did helping build the Zentralstadion in the mid-1950s. She and her classmates were required to pledge a certain number of hours.30 Field hockey players Karl-Heinz and Helga Bennewitz likewise remembered helping build the Zentralstadion. Frau Bennewitz noted that she performed obligatory voluntary work along with fellow job trainees, yet she emphasized that the challenging physical work was much more fun than going to regular classes. Her husband likewise acknowledged that although the state “steered” people’s participation, most citizens enjoyed and took pride in the work.31 That the Bennewitzes, despite the obligatory nature of their voluntarism, remembered their experiences positively sheds light on the state’s success in promoting the Zentralstadion project and encouraging citizens to take pride in their efforts. Simply setting up compulsory avenues to participation might have ensured that the stadium would be built, but it would not enable the state to celebrate the stadium as a truly voluntary project. To fulfill its goal of using voluntary work actions as a vehicle for mass mobilization, the state also took steps to make voluntary work on the stadium appear as appealing as possible and to encourage citizens to take pride in their accomplishments. Significantly, most of the promotional campaigns organized by the state did not invoke “building socialism” as a motivational strategy. Rather, the state spoke to civic and historical pride and offered material and psychological incentives. Leipzig newspapers and newsletters repeatedly conveyed to Leipzig residents that the Zentralstadion was “their” stadium or “Leipzig’s” stadium, not the government’s stadium, and that the sports festivals belonged to them as well.32 According to one article in the Leipziger Volkszeitung, “This stadium belongs to us all, the workers in the factories, the farmers on the farms, and the students in the schools.”33 Organizers and journalists frequently urged Leipzig residents to be proud that they were building the largest stadium in Germany and emphasized that the Zentralstadion would transform Leipzig into the sports metropolis

Dieter Stellmacher, interview by author, Göttingen, Germany, 26 May 2005. Karl-Heinz Bennewitz and Helga Bennewitz, interview by author, Leipzig, Germany, 18 May 2005. 32 SML-Dokumente, D 5002, “Unser Stadion braucht deine Hilfe!” Leipziger Volkszeitung, 1 July 1955. 33 SML-Dokumente, D 5002, Leipziger Volkszeitung, 31 May 1956. 30 31

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of Germany. Newspapers also reminded Leipzig residents what an achievement the stadium and the festival were for Leipzig, emphasizing to residents that by contributing their time, they would be able to experience personal pride in the finished product. According to one newspaper article, “Something new and beautiful is arising in our city every day. Each of us must be able to say: I, too, played a small part in that accomplishment.”34 For some citizen volunteers, pride in Leipzig’s stadium has persisted long after the demise of the GDR. Helga and Karl-Heinz Bennewitz talked effusively about the post-reunification history of the stadium; it—albeit substantially renovated between 2000 and 2004—was the centerpiece of Leipzig’s unsuccessful campaign to host the 2012 Olympic Games and it hosted World Cup soccer matches in 2006. The Bennewitzes displayed significant pride and identification in what they described as “our” stadium.35 Local sports officials also called on the residents of Leipzig to make voluntary contributions that would cast Leipzig in a positive light, and especially highlight Leipzig’s hospitality to festival guests. “Every visitor must feel that our city breathes hospitality and beauty,” exhorted one organizer.36 The Leipziger Volkszeitung furthermore instructed residents: “Now is the time to undertake the last efforts and create in the entire city of Leipzig an atmosphere of warm hospitality and true patriotic enthusiasm. Leipzig must be transformed into a sea of flags, flowers, and garlands.” The same article reminded Leipzig residents of the need for still more private quarters for festival guests and urged them to demonstrate the “proverbial hospitality” of Leipzig by volunteering their homes.37 Appeals to local pride meshed with efforts to remind Leipzig residents of the tradition of sports festivals in Leipzig, reflecting the state’s broader strategy of celebrating historical traditions to promote socialist patriotism. In a Festschrift written in honor of the Gymnastics and Sports Festival in 1956, Fritz Thomas, Chair of the Committee for Physical Culture and Sports for the district of Leipzig, pointed out that “the Gymnastics Festivals in Leipzig were always high points in 34 SML-Dokumente, D 5002, “Warum nicht alle wie die 1?” Leipziger Volkszeitung, 12 August 1955. 35 Bennewitz and Bennewitz, interview. 36 Stadtarchiv Leipzig StVuR (1) 4262, “Protokoll über die Beratung des Operativstabes III. Deutsches Turn- und Sportfest am 26.3.1959,” Bl. 20. 37 SML-Dokumente, D 5002, “Leipzig muss ein Meer von Fahnen, Blumen und Girlanden werden!” Leipziger Volkszeitung, 29 July 1956.

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the history of German gymnastics. Leipzig was one of the most gymnastics-enthusiastic cities in Germany.”38 Indeed, Leipzig was the site of the German Gymnastics Festival in 1863, one of the highlights of the grassroots gymnastics movement of the nineteenth century, when 85,000 residents of Leipzig hosted over 20,000 participants from around the German territories.39 The inaugural Workers’ Gymnastics and Sports Festival took place in Leipzig in 1922, involving 100,000 participants and guests from nine countries.40 In fact, Leipzig hosted more gymnastics and sports festivals before 1945 than any other German city.41 Whether or not Leipzig residents had known of these sports festivals, East German officials worked to “invent” the great gymnastics and sports festival tradition of Leipzig—just as they invented a narrative of historical continuity between the heroic nineteenth-century Turner and the heroic Arbeitersportler and East German sports. The goal of such “invention of tradition” was to stimulate local pride and to highlight the indigenous legitimacy of the GDR’s projects by uncovering historical antecedents.42 National and local officials also emphasized the decades-long project to build sports facilities at the site of the new Sportforum. The first local plans for a stadium dated to the 1890s. Groups during the Weimar years and the Third Reich had likewise hoped to build a large stadium in order to increase the profile and prestige of Leipzig and to provide leisure outlets for its citizens. Thus, East German leaders were in

Festauschuss II. Deutsches Turn- und Sportfest Leipzig 1956, ed., Unser Gruss den deutschen Turnern und Sportlern: Festschrift II. Deutsches Turn- und Sportfest Leipzig 1956, Nr. 2 (Berlin: Sportverlag Berlin, 1956), 3. 39 Pall Björnsson, “Liberalism and the Making of the ‘New Man’: The Case of Gymnasts in Leipzig, 1845–1871,” in Saxony in German History: Culture, Society, and Politics, 1830–1933, ed. James Retallack (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2000), 161. 40 Volker Rodekamp, ed. Sport Schau: Ausstellung Deutsche Turnfeste 1860 bis 2002 (Leipzig: Stadtgeschichtliches Museum, 2002), 23. 41 See Rodekamp, 11–49, for basic information on all national gymnastics festivals in Germany from 1860 to 2002. 42 Festausschuss II. Deutsches Turn- und Sportfest, ed., An die Turner und Sportler ganz Deutschlands: Festschrift II. Deutsches Turn- und Sportfest Leipzig, August 1956, Nr. 1 (Berlin: Sportverlag Berlin, 1956). On the “invention of tradition,” see Eric Hobsbawm, “Introduction: Inventing Traditions,” in The Invention of Tradition, ed. Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1983), 1–14. For more on East German state efforts to cultivate local pride as part of building a socialist Heimat, see Jan Palmowski, “Building an East German Nation: The Construction of a Socialist Heimat, 1945–1961,” Central European History 37, no. 3 (2004): 365–399. 38

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part emphasizing simple facts when they claimed that finally, under socialist leadership, the residents of Leipzig were building the sports stadium they had desired for so many decades and that other governments had failed to support. At the same time, the narrative created by the state—of East German citizens working together to fulfill their decades’ long dream—allowed it to draw attention to and celebrate local tradition as a strategy to mobilize participation. Even if people did not know of the history of the stadium project beforehand, local and national officials and newspapers told them about it constantly and asked them to come out to the construction site and help Leipzig realize this long-standing dream.43 National and local officials also promised Leipzig residents and GDR citizens financial and material rewards in exchange for their contributions to fund-raising campaigns, including free tickets to sports events or exemptions from participation fees. In the eleventh city district in Leipzig, the residential commission that collected the most money received ten free tickets to sports events at the 1956 Gymnastics and Sports Festival, and the second and third best commissions received six and four free tickets, respectively.44 Every athlete who raised 200 DM received an exemption from the 20 DM participation fee. Athletes such as “Friend of Sports” Runkel from BSG Stahl Frankleben, who raised 1000,84 DM; Hermann Wilke from BSG Einheit Nauen, who raised 564,69 DM; and Heinz Bothe from BSG Stahl Eisleben, who raised 386,50 DM, earned exemptions.45 A raffle also encouraged people to donate money in the hopes of winning a prize. Prizes in 1956 ranged from the “luxury” East German automobile known as the “Wartburg,” won by border police officer Christian Wittich from Dippoldiswalde, to motorcycles, bicycles, radios, cash prizes, and wrist watches.46 Athletes could buy fund-raising stamps from their sports clubs. For each 1 DM deposited in the sports 43 Stadtarchiv Leipzig StVuR(1) 5102, “Stadion-Träume werden endlich Wirklichkeit,” Leipziger Volkszeitung, 22 March 1950, Bl. 179. 44 Stadtarchiv Leipzig StVuR (1) 4252, “Vorschlag für einen Wettbewerb zur Unterstützung der Vorbereitung des II. Deutschen Turn- und Sportfestes im Stadtbezirk 11,” Bl. 33. 45 SML-Dokumente, D 3397, II. Deutsches Turn- und Sportfest, Informationsblatt des Organisations-Büros, Nr. 4 (Leipzig, 29 February 1956). 46 SML-Dokumente, D 1002, II. Deutsches Turn- und Sportfest, Informationsblatt des Organisations-Büros, Nr. 6 (Leipzig, 24 June 1956); Stadtarchiv Leipzig, StVuR (1) 4252, Bl. 33; SML-Dokumente, D 7, “Spendenkarte ‘Wir finanzieren unser Fest!’ ”; SMLDokumente, D 1207, “Geld- und Sachwert-Lotterie.”

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festival fund, they could receive one of ten different stamps, decorated with motifs such as the Battle of the Nations Memorial in Leipzig or a gymnast performing on parallel bars. Athletes each received a personal donation card on which they could affix their special stamps. After purchasing all ten stamps, they could buy the eleventh stamp for 2 DM, which made them eligible to win raffle prizes.47 Non-sports club members could also participate. Before the 1959 Gymnastics and Sports Festival, radio stations sponsored a fund-raising drive, “Trabant im Spiel.” For a 50 pfennig fee, participants could buy a card that allowed them to submit a musical request to the local radio station and to place their name in the lottery for raffle prizes, including two Trabant autos, four radios, and ten cameras.48 In a state in which automobiles were extremely scarce, the chance to win a “Trabi” would probably have been enticing.49 Local organizers also appealed to individual and group psychology in order to stimulate participation, awarding public recognition to those who volunteered their time and money.50 Almost every day during the months of the Zentralstadion campaign, the Leipziger Volkszeitung praised a resident of Leipzig who had helped at the Sportforum, who had collected money, or who had agreed to host a sports festival participant in his or her home. On 15 May 1956 the newspaper praised young Reinhard Scherzer, who collected over 300 DM for the sports festival in a period of only three weeks. The names of his donors filled twelve complete pages; after asking his family and acquaintances, he had gone to the train station and collected pledges from people waiting for their trains. The local newspaper ran an article that featured the boy’s name in the headline, included a prominent photograph, and celebrated him as a role model for other Young Pioneers.51 The Leipzig newspaper also featured Frau M. Farchmin, who slept on a cot and offered her two

SML-Dokumente, D 7, “Spendenkarte ‘Wir finanzieren unser Fest!’ ” SächsStAL, SED IV/5/01/528, Letter from Stadtvorstand Leipzig, DTSB, to Grundorganisationen des Stadtverbandes des DTSB, 11 June 1959. 49 For insights on the significance of the automobile in East Germany, see Jonathan R. Zatlin, “The Vehicle of Desire: The Trabant, the Wartburg, and the End of the GDR,” German History 15, no. 3 (1997): 358–380. 50 As Stephen Kotkin points out, this “calculated use of publicity” was also evident in Soviet mass mobilization campaigns. Kotkin, 205. 51 SML-Dokumente, D 5002, “Dem Reinhard gibt man gern,” Leipziger Volkszeitung, 15 May 1956. 47

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beds and sofa to three festival participants,52 and sixty-eight-year-old Martha Lehmann, who worked in the luggage check at the train station and who volunteered for twenty hours at the Sportforum construction site, providing “an example that can put many young people to shame.”53 Stadium and sports festival reports covered most of the back page of the national newspaper each Monday and appeared almost daily in the Leipzig newspaper. These reports provided opportunities for individuals to read their names and see their pictures in print. One photograph published in Vorwärts in June 1956, featured young men from the People’s Police in Barracks (Kasernierte Volkspolizei ), a paramilitary organization, marching with their shovels over their shoulders along the inside rim of the stadium. One young man is gazing up at the camera, with one hand removing his hat and the other hand arranging his hair more attractively. His gesture suggests that the picture was posed, as were most likely all of the militaristic pictures from the construction site. Nonetheless, the young man’s desire to look good for the camera indicates that he (and presumably others) appreciated the opportunity to get their pictures in the newspaper.54 Local organizers and newspaper writers also relied on a spirit of competition, group dynamics, and peer pressure to encourage voluntarism. The ideological concept of “socialist competition” drove workplace and free time culture in East Germany and other socialist states, and local organizers planned a whole series of such competitions surrounding the stadium project and fund raising campaigns. In a socialist competition, worker brigades issued challenges to other brigades, and they all competed against one another in order to raise the productivity overall.55 Just as sports organizers insisted that their 52 SML-Dokumente, D 5002, “Unsere Leser helfen,” Leipziger Volkszeitung, 31 May 1956. 53 SML-Dokumente, D 5002 “Die 68–jährige Arbeiterin,” Leipziger Volkszeitung, 24 June 1956. 54 SML-TSF-A, AOrgbDTSF II-1956, 9/1, “Unsere Bildreportage vom Leipziger Stadionbau/Nr. 57: Endspurt noch einmal im Wettbewerb,” Vorwärts, 18 June 1956. In the newspaper article, the picture is quite small. However, in the black and white original photograph located in the Sportmuseum Leipzig, it is clear that this man is posing for the camera. For more on the relationship of the KVP to both the Volkspolizei and the Nationale Volksarmee, see Richard Bessel, “The People’s Police and the People in Ulbricht’s Germany,” in The Workers’ and Peasants’ State, 59–77. 55 Socialist competitions were initially introduced into the GDR in 1947 as part of Order 234, authorized by the Soviet Military Administration. These competitions bore some resemblance to Stakhanovism and other “activist” movements in the USSR. Socialist competitions soon became merely ritual in the GDR. See Corey Ross, Constructing

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promotion of paramilitarism and work productivity through sports was fundamentally different from such efforts under capitalism, so did the coordinators of voluntarism frame socialist competitions as different from capitalist competitions. According to Stephen Kotkin, “Theoretically, socialist competition differed from competition under capitalism in that the aim was not supposed to be the triumph of a victor but the raising of everyone up to the level of the most advanced.”56 Officials coordinated special competitions to encourage work brigades to meet both fundraising and Zentralstadion goals as quickly as possible.57 The city council designated a flag as the reward for the most productive work teams from the various sports clubs in Leipzig. Each weekend, the flag passed to a new team, who displayed it next to its designated portion of the construction site during that day’s work action.58 Local organizers and journalists also promoted a more amorphous “spirit of competition.” Newspapers and newsletters featured frequent cartoons, stories, and headlines to prod functionaries, the residents of Leipzig, the members of particular enterprises or sports clubs, or the residents of certain city districts, to do more because other cities or groups were surpassing their efforts. In each newsletter devoted to the preparations for the 1956 Gymnastics and Sports Festival, a cartoon depicted the “Standings of the Districts in the Donation and Collection Movement.” One cartoon incorporated athletic metaphors. On the right, figures representing Gera, Neubrandenburg, and Potsdam peddle furiously on their bikes and have almost reached their goal. In the “midfield,” figures representing Rostock, Frankfurt/Oder, Magdeburg, Halle, Schwerin, and Leipzig sweat and struggle on their approach to the goal. Some are on scooters rather than bikes, and two people pull a third person in a cart. To the left, far from the goal, are figures representing Dresden, Erfurt, Berlin, Karl-Marx-Stadt, Suhl, and Cottbus, and they snack, take pictures, sing, stroll, and even sit. The caption at Socialism at the Grass-Roots: The Transformation of East Germany, 1945–65 (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000), 35–36, 45. For a brief explanation of the concept of socialist competition in the USSR beginning in 1929, see Kotkin, 204. Padraic Kenney explores socialist labor competitions on the shop floor in postwar Poland in Rebuilding Poland: Workers and Communists, 1945–1950 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1995), 237–286. 56 Kotkin, 204. 57 SML-TSF-A, AOrgbDTSF II-1956, 9/1, “Unsere Bildreportage vom Leipziger Stadionbau/Nr. 57: ‘Endspurt noch einmal im Wettbewerb!’ ” Vorwärts, 18 June 1956. National Socialists also organized competitions to encourage mass participation. See Peukert, 151. 58 Heinz Haferkorn, interview by author, 21 August 2000, Leipzig, Germany.

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the bottom of the cartoon states: “This chart speaks for itself. We hope that it will make certain functionaries think.”59 Organizers incited peer pressure not only in newspapers and on posters but also, and to great effect, in house-to-house campaigns. It was clearly more difficult to say “no” to hosting sports festival participants or donating money if one was asked in person. In the initial strategy to encourage citizens to open their homes to sports festival guests, residents received a registration card along with the weekly rationing card. Leipzig residents had to fill out their address and name and the number of sleeping spots available in their homes. However, this strategy brought insufficient results, presumably because, according to one newspaper report, “personal contact between athletes and the people of Leipzig was missing.” Therefore, officials adopted a new strategy in which athletes took to the streets, squares, and apartment complexes to secure rooms from private citizens.60 This strategy brought greater success. In one city district that had secured a paltry 376 rooms, the Organizational Bureau of the sports festival sent two recruiters to one street and gained forty-five rooms in a mere four hours. After noting that residents of her neighborhood had offered few rooms for sports festival participants, Frau Austel, a member of Leipzig’s sports commission, walked door-to-door through her own apartment complex and convinced six families to offer eight sleeping places for festival visitors.61 Most likely, Leipzig residents found it more difficult to say no face-toface. Perhaps they also had a fearful respect for authorities and felt it best to cooperate with the simple requests of local officials. Voluntarism at the Zentralstadion construction site was a mixture of compulsion and voluntarism. Yet the Zentralstadion was more than a simple construction project. Through the state’s celebration of the project in the media, and through central and local officials’ efforts to appeal to citizens’ civic and historic pride and to offer them material and psychological rewards, the Zentralstadion became a national mass mobilization project.

59 SML-Dokumente, D 1813, II. Deutsches Turn- und Sportfest, Informationsblatt des Organisations-Büros Nr. 5 (Leipzig, 14 April 1956). 60 SML-Dokumente, D 5002, “Im Kirow-Werk tut sich was für die Augusttage,” Leipziger Volkszeitung, 31 May 1956. 61 Stadtarchiv Leipzig StVuR (1) 4256, “Operativstabsitzung II. Deutsches Turn- und Sportfest am 12.5.1956,” Bl. 9.

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Voluntarism in Everyday Life Although the Zentralstadion was one of the GDR’s landmark voluntary work actions in the 1950s, the government also expected citizens to perform voluntary work on community and BSG athletic facilities, ranging from helping build local stadiums to performing routine maintenance work on facilities. The government encouraged citizens to record all such activities and to consider them, like voluntary work actions on the Zentralstadion, as political acts and as contributions to the building of socialism. A yearly competition, “Best Sports Organization of the Federation of Free German Trade Unions,” measured not only athletic accomplishments but also the number of voluntary work hours completed by members.62 The state’s measuring mechanisms thus put a clear state stamp on local voluntary efforts, as citizens learned not only to track and report on their activities, but also to employ the state’s terminology as they described their work. Government and sports officials recognized the need for voluntary contributions of labor and materials to ensure that citizens had suitable facilities to play sports. A 1959 guidebook advising sports officials on how to organize neighborhood sports festivals emphasized the importance of frugality to achieve “the best effect on the masses with the most minimal use of materials.” The book told organizers that certain pieces of equipment, such as stands for volleyball and badminton nets, soccer goal posts, starting blocks, and high jump bars “can be produced without much complication, out of one’s own efforts, if one succeeds in gaining the help of specialists or artisans.” The book also instructed officials to promote self-financing by collecting money from participants and spectators. The guidebook even suggested how very young children could get involved in raising money: “The children themselves can collect recyclable items and sell them, the proceeds of which will go towards buying balls, badminton sets, and other sports equipment.”63 As the guidebook’s word choice—particularly “out of one’s own efforts” and “self-financing”—reveals, government leaders and sports organizers often praised citizens who contributed their own time and

62 SML-Dokumente, D 833, Application from Betriebsportgemeinschaft ‘Empor’ Nordost Leipzig, 5 July 1954. 63 Ralf Florl, Volkssportfest im Wohngebiet (Berlin: Sportverlag Berlin, 1959), 17.

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money rather than relying on state assistance. Similar terms invoked by leaders and organizers included self-initiative (Eigeninitiative) and self help (Selbsthilfe), both characteristics that they believed all socialist citizens should embrace. Sports officials often chastised citizens and sports clubs leaders who whined to higher officials about insufficient funds and encouraged them instead to “help themselves” through voluntary work actions and contributions of materials and supplies. In a report from the County Sports Association in Leipzig, published as a brochure in January 1949, city officials criticized the many complaints made by local sports clubs about the lack of sports equipment, clothing, and facilities. They emphasized, as a counter example, the members of Sportgemeinschaft Probstheida who had pledged to renovate its sports hall for winter training. The County Sports Association reminded Leipzig residents that, “When you encounter a sports complex and recognize that much of it remains destroyed, whining is a useless waste of time. Give a hand yourself, get to work yourself !”64 The clear implication was that athletes who needed to ask the state for help lacked virtue and were too lazy to work hard. A decade later, the government continued to interpret requests for help in such a light. In January 1960 an SED committee analyzed letters written by GDR citizens to the SED since August 1959. The committee noted that the majority of the twenty-one letters, written by DTSB members or functionaries, complained about a lack of funds and insufficient athletic facilities and asked for more state funds for sports facilities. The SED writer criticized the letter writers for failing to seek out all local possibilities—such as the National Building Corps—and for resorting to “the easiest approach.”65 Such responses clearly revealed the SED’s belief that hard-working virtuous citizens sought local solutions to their problems; only lazy, unmotivated citizens sought financial assistance from the government. Many sports clubs understood that they needed to use “self-initiative” in order to “help themselves” secure access to suitable athletic facilities. As the worker Heinz Völlings wrote in 1950, “It is very unfortunate for us that we encounter such difficulty finding adequate places to play sports. But our club is now building our own enterprise sports field, and SML-Dokumente, D 3746, “Informationsblatt für die Sportgemeinschaften des Kreises Leipzig,” January 1949. 65 SAPMO-BArch, DY 30 IV 2/18/1, “Analyse der Post aus der Bevölkerung seit Anfang August 1959, Arbeitsgruppe Sport, Berlin,” 6 January 1960. 64

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we soccer players are, of course, participating in this effort.”66 A report written by the SV Stahl in 1954 documented the lack of facilities and noted that many sports organizers had chosen to center their efforts around sports such as table tennis and volleyball, because “Players can erect a playing field for volleyball without great expense . . . and table tennis tables can easily be built anywhere.”67 As oral history interviews reveal, many citizens interpreted such efforts to create even rudimentary sports facilities as a clear function of necessity. Gymnast Siegfried Müller, proclaiming that “nothing comes from nothing,” narrated how he helped build a gymnastics center in the 1950s in his town of Wittenberg; this enabled gymnasts to have their own facility rather than sharing with other sports teams.68 Hurdler Peter Hähnel remembered helping build a running track and long jump pit in his city of Karl-Marx-Stadt, noting how he and fellow athletes removed war rubble from the site, clearing the way for trained workers to complete the skilled work.69 Skiers Lothar and Christa Finze, who lived in the flat area of Köthen, described how their club built their own ski hut in the mountains to enable skiers to spend entire weekends training. Herr Finze described such voluntary work as “in the interest of sports, of the club.”70 Field hockey player Werner Holtzschke emphasized the need to mow lawns, paint, clean up, and complete repairs.71 Karl-Heinz and Helga Bennewitz, members of the same hockey BSG as Holtzschke, also remembered carrying in nets and mowing grass; Herr Bennewitz indicated that although club members understood it as politically useful to report to higher authorities about even such mundane activities, their primary motivation was to “ensure that sports could function.”72 Although citizens primarily did local voluntary work in order to facilitate their own athletic activities, they understood that government officials also expected them to perform such work. Several interviewees

66 SML-Dokumente, D 3949, “Von Sportlern am Arbeitsplatz notiert—für Sportler am Arbeitsplatz geschrieben,” Deutsches Sport-Echo, 20 November 1950. 67 Erhard Schöber, “Aus der Arbeit der gewerkschaftlichen Sportorganisation ‘Stahl’,” TPK 3 (March 1954): 279–280. 68 Siegfried Müller, interview by author, Wittenberg, Germany, 19 May 2005. 69 Peter Hähnel, interview by author, Chemnitz, Germany, 10 July 2004. 70 Lothar Finze and Christa Finze, interview by author, Köthen, Germany, 10 July 2004. 71 Werner Holtzschke, interview by author, Leipzig, Germany, 10 July 1999. 72 Bennewitz and Bennewitz, interview.

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suggested that performing voluntary work was a “social contribution” expected of citizens.73 Others revealed that voluntarism often involved formalized, structured work that was not really optional, yet nonetheless counted as voluntarism. For example, soccer player Manfred Jentzsch remembered that at the conclusion of his job training, every student had to prove that he or she had completed twelve voluntary hours before taking the final exam. He helped build a track and field facility in Wittenberg.74 His teammate Horst Heck mentioned that all soccer players had to pledge thirty hours of work on a new sports facility in the town. Some went once a week, but most volunteered several stretches of seven to eight hours.75 Other citizens performed voluntary work in order to gain privileges for their sports clubs. Cyclist Günther Deckert remembered receiving stamps on a card for every hour he and fellow cyclists devoted to building a local swim stadium; proof of voluntary work helped the club receive points towards state competitions for “best sports club” that carried cash prizes.76 Voluntary work thus not only helped ensure that citizens could make use of appropriate facilities, but also allowed citizens to demonstrate their proper socialist behavior and thereby gain access to examinations and win rewards. State influence not only prodded citizens to perform voluntary work, but also influenced the language and terminology they used to describe their work. Despite organizing voluntary work actions and demonstrating frugality and self-sufficiency, local officials still encountered shortages of funds and had to ask the central government for assistance. In a letter requesting more state funds, officials from the SV Medizin emphasized the many “self-help actions” and “collective work actions” of club members. The letter noted that “in countless cases, athletes and employees of the health care enterprises—through their own work and without investment—have built sports facilities and thereby contributed to the people’s property of our Republic.” Yet, the letter emphasized, many sports clubs that belonged to the SV Medizin needed additional financial support. The BSG Medizin Nord in Berlin, for example, had successfully built a tennis complex through voluntary work actions,

73 Stellmacher, interview; Günther Deckert, interview by author, Wittenberg, Germany, 18 May 2005. 74 Manfred Jentzsch, Siegfried Rössner, and Horst Heck, interview by author, Wittenberg, Germany, 17 May 2005. 75 Ibid. 76 Deckert, interview.

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yet it required additional funds in order to equip the tennis complex with working toilets and showers.77 By emphasizing the frequency of voluntary work actions by the local clubs, the SV Medizin letter spoke in the language of the state in the hope that the government would reward the “self-initiative” of the athletes.78 The state’s influence on the language of voluntarism persisted more than a decade after the demise of East Germany. Werner Holtzschke described the rather mundane work of mowing the team’s field and cleaning facilities as “work actions.” He also employed phrases such as “seize the initiative ourselves” and “by our own efforts” to describe his club’s work, echoing the state’s praise of the self-initiative and self-help of ideal socialist citizens. Holtzschke acknowledged that he was using the state’s terminology, stating that when regular citizens referred to “voluntary work hours,” they were employing the state’s concept to describe their own activities.79 Other interviewees employed state terminology without indicating such awareness. Siegfried Müller explained that he and his teammates did voluntary work “out of our own initiative,”80 and Peter Hähnel emphasized—without referencing state goals—that voluntary work helped build the “collective” by giving people something to do together.81 The interviewees’ use of state language—both consciously and unconsciously—reveals the extent of the state’s power to mold discourse and to shape relatively mundane activities into official political and social acts. Although interviewees often employed state terminology to narrate their voluntary activities, they nonetheless interpreted their work very differently than the state desired. The state championed the self-initiative and self-help that drove individual citizens to contribute to social SAPMO-BArch, DY 41 7/132/2853, “Investitionen.” For further insights into this process of “speaking Bolshevik,” see Kotkin, Magnetic Mountain, particularly 215–225. As Kotkin writes, “It was not necessary to believe. It was necessary, however, to participate as if one believed. . . .” 220. Katherine Pence also highlights how the female consumers who wrote letters in 1953 to Elli Schmidt, head of a State Commission to look into problems with provisioning the population, learned to use a “socialist-based rhetoric” in their letters. According to Pence, the letters show the writers’ “savvy sense of what entailed respectable socialist citizenship in the eyes of the regime—especially a commitment to productive labour and to the ideological community.” See “ ‘You as a Woman Will Understand’: Consumption, Gender and the Relationship between State and Citizenry in the GDR’s Crisis of 17 June 1953,” German History 19, no. 2 (2001): 250. 79 Holtzschke, interview. 80 Müller, interview. 81 Hähnel, interview. 77 78

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projects as helping them develop a stronger tie to the collective of the socialist state, but many citizens instead described their voluntary efforts as fostering strong individual and local pride. In a 1962 publication in honor of its tenth anniversary, the BSG Lokomotive Leipzig Wahren proudly emphasized the dedication of its clubhouse in 1961: “It required a lot of sweat and effort in order to convert the former Salzmeste — during a lengthy construction project—into into a worthy facility for our athletes. . . . We also thank the countless voluntary helpers who helped create for us and for themselves a great sports center.”82 Oral interviews confirmed this emphasis on local pride. Siegfried Müller mentioned his and his teammates’ pride in completing a construction project fraught with problems, proclaiming, “We did it!” He emphasized that, as a general principle, the harder the work is, the longer it stays in the mind.83 Peter Hähnel noted that even today, when he walks by the track he helped build, he is “still proud of that accomplishment.”84 Werner Holtzschke said that it was because of “our accomplishment,” not that of city employees on the state’s payroll, that the players were able to compete on their fields on the weekends.85 Such pride in the shared accomplishments of sports team members indicates that voluntary work did foster new “socialist” values such as collective spirit. Indeed, voluntary work completed with one’s teammates promoted the same sociability that train travel to competitions and visits to local restaurants after evening practices cultivated. Yet, citizens primarily developed pride in non-socialist collectives such as their team or their community. Two particular oral history interviews demonstrate the extent to which voluntary work produced substantial local pride. In both interviews, former East German citizens underplayed the role of state interest in and organization of voluntary work actions, revealing in the process a selective remembering that only makes clearer that many citizens understood their voluntary efforts as local, and not state or socialist, accomplishments. The first interview involves Lothar and Christa Finze, whose sports club had built a ski hut to enable athletes to spend the night in the

82 SML-Dokumente, D 4327, “10 Jahre, 1952–1962: BSG Lokomotive Leipzig Wahren.” 83 Müller, interview. 84 Hähnel, interview. 85 Holtzschke, interview.

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mountains during training season. They described the long process of building the hut, including earlier unsuccessful efforts to secure a site. During the interview, Herr Finze displayed a scrapbook highlighting the voluntary work on the hut. Each page had the title “voluntary work action” and listed a date, the name of each voluntary worker, and how many hours he or she completed. The scrapbook also featured the lists of citizens who voluntarily donated money. Herr Finze singled out Werner Franke by name, a child who gave 20 pfennig, and pointed to the names of other children who gave small contributions. He also displayed the many photographs of “work actions.” Interestingly, when asked if he or somebody else in the club sent copies of this information to higher sports officials, Finze insisted that this was a purely local project and that the records were purely local records. It was “only us,” he proclaimed.86 On the one hand, Finze’s narrative clearly shows a significant citizen initiative, as these skiers had been working for years to gain a site and build a ski hut. His narrative likewise demonstrates how citizens often used state terminology and state tracking mechanisms to describe their own activities; Finze’s private scrapbook very much resembled state archival records. On the other hand, both archival sources and other interviews reveal that BSGs often experienced pressure to report on their activities to higher sports authorities to preserve access to funds and opportunities to compete; it is thus implausible that nobody in the club would have reported on this extensive example of voluntary work to higher sports authorities. Finze’s claim to the contrary could be a conscious effort to distance his club from the state and valorize local initiative; within the context of the post-communist era, such tales of independence and resistance take on a certain appeal. It is more probable that his claim is rooted in the fact that the state’s requirement of voluntary work was simply not important to him. Despite his use of state terminology, he clearly interpreted the ski hut as a local initiative and a local accomplishment. A second example involves contradictory interview accounts of a swim stadium built through voluntary work in Piesteritz, a suburb of Wittenberg. Werner Freydonk, himself a swimmer, eagerly narrated how citizens built this stadium themselves to give them an alternative to swimming in the Elbe River. According to Freydonk, citizens

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volunteered every Saturday and Sunday between 1953 and 1958, from early until late, doing the work themselves, with never a machine in sight. In the end, the citizens produced a first-class swimming facility that later hosted international swimming competitions, complete with a 50 meter pool, bleachers, and diving boards. Interestingly, Freydonk described the swim stadium as the “biggest unauthorized construction project (Schwarzbau) in East Germany.” He explained that in a controlled economy, the government determined who would have access to construction materials and that it did not include the swimming pool construction project in its plans. As a result, individual citizens provided the construction materials themselves by donating materials from their own garages and homes, and volunteers sold commemorative stones to raise money. According to Freydonk, the police once came to the construction site and asked to see the official building permit. Even though the volunteers did not have the permit, the police did not stop the swimmers from building their stadium. To Freydonk, the unauthorized status of the stadium made its successful completion into an almost heroic, and exclusively local, achievement.87 It is almost inconceivable that a project as extensive as building a 50 meter swim stadium complete with bleachers could take place under the radar of a dictatorship with a centrally-planned economy. Indeed, archival evidence makes it clear that the construction of the swim stadium was hardly a spontaneous act of citizen engagement. Rather, the stadium project entailed extensive coordination of various city, county, and regional committees and engineering bureaus in both Wittenberg and in Halle—as well as correspondence with the national authorities in Berlin—to prepare detailed architectural plans, secure the proper certifications from geological and hygienic inspectors, and coordinate voluntary work actions through the local National Building Corps.88 Oral history evidence confirms the highly-organized nature of the construction of the swim stadium. When asked a general question about voluntary work, Günther Deckert gave the specific example that his cycling club performed obligatory voluntary work at the Piesteritz swim stadium to gain points towards state-sponsored competitions.89 Siegfried Müller likewise remembered contributing voluntary hours to Werner Freydonk, interview by author, Wittenberg, Germany, 2 July 2004. See extensive documentation in the Ratsarchiv Wittenberg, Städtische Sammlungen, “Bauarchiv Moellendorfer Strasse 13c Freibad.” 89 Deckert, interview. 87 88

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the swim stadium project. He received an official stamp in his National Building Corps card for every hour of work.90 Despite the contradiction between Freydonk’s memory of the Piesteritz swim stadium project and archival and other oral history evidence, his narration—like Lothar Finze’s recollection of his BSG’s construction of its ski hut—yields significant insights about the meaning of voluntarism. On the one hand, it is possible that these former citizens of the GDR were, consciously or unconsciously, distancing themselves in their interviews from a failed state and its coercive strategies. On the other hand, their narrations of local voluntary work simultaneously demonstrate that some East German citizens underplayed and even sometimes overlooked altogether the state’s role in encouraging their voluntary work. They primarily experienced heightened local pride as a result of voluntary work on local sports facilities, not greater loyalty to the East German state and socialist community as government leaders had hoped. Conclusion The phenomenon of voluntarism gives insight into how East German socialism functioned. It reflects the highly-organized nature of East German political, economic, and social life, as well as the language of socialism, which simultaneously implied both coercion and consent. Voluntarism also highlights how the state appealed to its citizens to inspire their participation, often downplaying socialist ideology and relying instead on familiar appeals to civic and historical pride, material desire, and individual and group psychology. At the same time, local voluntary work reveals not only the extent of the state’s influence, but also its limits. Many citizens ultimately experienced heightened local pride as a result of their voluntary labors, rather than the greater loyalty to socialism that the state desired. The significance played by voluntarism in everyday life in East Germany is perhaps best reflected in its long-term influence on language. In the 1950s, Sports Associations such as the SV Medizin spoke in the language of the state to gain sympathy from state officials and to elicit additional funds. Even more significantly, the language of voluntarism

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persists even after German reunification, having been incorporated into the speech patterns of former East German citizens such as field hockey player Werner Holtzschke and skiers Lothar and Christa Finze, as they remember and narrate everyday experiences from the 1950s. Voluntary work actions even made an appearance in a political cartoon printed in the Berliner Zeitung on 9 November 1999 to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the opening of the Berlin Wall. The cartoon featured three prisoners chipping away at a prison wall with axes, presumably hoping to break down the wall and escape. A prison guard beneath them yells “Krenz! Kleiber! Schabowski! Your voluntary work action is not permitted!”91 Shortly before the cartoon appeared, SED leaders Krenz, Kleiber, and Schabowksi had been sentenced to prison for crimes committed under the GDR. That a caricaturist would choose to depict a “voluntary work action” with such irony illustrates both the centrality of state-promoted voluntarism as a marker of state-society relations in the GDR and the ambivalence with which many viewed such “voluntarism.”

91 Dieter Zehentmayr, “Karikatur: Mauerspechte,” Berliner Zeitung, 9 November 1999.

CHAPTER FOUR

THE EMBODIMENT OF EAST GERMAN SOCIALISM: THE GYMNASTICS AND SPORTS FESTIVALS On 4 August 1956 in the early afternoon, the highpoint of the Second German Gymnastics and Sports Festival began in Leipzig. Thousands of athletes marched into Leipzig’s newly-constructed Zentralstadion. After they arrived, organizers rang the ceremonial bell and lit the ceremonial flame, and a choir accompanied by 100,000 spectators sang the East German national anthem. After organizers released 25,000 doves, the Sports Show (Sportschau) began. The Sports Show, one of the most emblematic public events in the GDR, featured athletes who performed synchronized exercises on the field. Coordinated with them was a placard section located on the east side of the stadium and known as the Osttribüne, where 12,000 individuals collectively raised colored flags on command. Together the flags spelled out words and phrases, carefully chosen to correspond to the synchronized displays on the field and often conveying political messages.1 Special events like the Gymnastics and Sports Festivals—and the Sports Shows that headlined them—were the centerpieces of multi-year mass mobilization efforts in socialist societies such as the GDR.2 The three festivals of the 1950s, held in 1954, 1956, and 1959, reflected the goal of representing socialist East Germany as the heir to progressive German traditions and as the ideal vehicle for German reunification. In particular, organizers worked to present these festivals as “German” festivals, inviting West German athletes to attend. For more than a year in advance of the festivals, organizers used media and mass organizations to mobilize interest, and they carefully choreographed the Sports 1 Sportmuseum Leipzig (hereafter SML), Organisationsbüro für das II. Deutsche Turn- und Sportfest, Abt. Sportschau, ed. Technisches Merkblatt für die Teilnehmer an der Sportschau (1956), 15 (hereafter Technisches Merkblatt 1956 ). The library collection of the Sportmuseum Leipzig holds many pamphlets and brochures related to the Gymnastics and Sports Festivals. 2 The festivals were in 1954, 1956, 1959, 1963, 1969, 1977, 1983, and 1987. The Second Gymnastics and Sports Festival in 1956 was the first to include the Sports Show and the Osttribüne and the first to take place in the Zentralstadion. It became the precedent for the remaining Gymnastics and Sports Festivals.

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Shows and the festivals as a whole as “rituals of state” that embodied an idealized socialist East Germany.3 Yet the festivals and the Sports Shows were much more than mere propaganda and illusion. Organizers hoped that the festivals would not only represent, but also cultivate in participants and spectators the collectivity and discipline that the Sports Shows celebrated. On the whole, the Gymnastics and Sports Festivals were extremely successful. The government organized voluntary labor to build the 100,000-seat Zentralstadion that hosted the festivals as of 1956, publicized the events throughout East Germany, organized athletic competitions, secured thousands of volunteers to perform in the Sports Shows and Osttribüne, coordinated special train schedules, found housing for tens of thousands of guests, and secured fruits and vegetables for festival participants and spectators. The result was a spectacle that many former East Germans still remember as a “major event,” a “great show,” and “a big deal.”4 Yet the government also encountered many challenges. Participants were not always as cooperative as the state desired, and did not seem to perceive the political significance of the festivals. Some citizens resented the government’s effort to secure rare foodstuffs to heighten the festive atmosphere, while failing to address the shortages that dominated daily life. Some even took advantage of the opportunity to complain to West German visitors. In the end, the Gymnastics and Sports Festivals generated enthusiasm and interest and created a lush visual display that presented the German Democratic Republic to both citizens and outsiders at its very best. Yet they also exposed the problems beneath the surface that constantly plagued East German leaders as they worked to ensure the cooperation of their citizens and to meet their needs and wants. The Gymnastics and Sports Festivals thus embodied East German society much more accurately than the government ever intended. 3 The phrase “ritual of state” is borrowed from Susan Brownell, who uses it to refer to the National Sports Games in Communist China, which were very similar to the Gymnastics and Sports Festivals in East Germany. See Training the Body for China: Sports in the Moral Order of the People’s Republic (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995), 26. 4 Karl-Heinz Bennewitz and Helga Bennewitz, interview by Molly Wilkinson Johnson (hereafter author), Leipzig, Germany, 18 May 2005. Similar comments were made by Wilfried Gärtner, interview by author, Wittenberg, Germany, 2 July 2004; Werner Holtzschke, interview by author, Leipzig, Germany 10 July 1999; Günther Deckert, interview by author, Wittenberg, Germany, 18 May 2005; and Siegfried Müller, interview by author, Wittenberg, Germany, 19 May 2005.

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Mass Events and Socialist Mobilization Socialist, fascist, and democratic societies have all used festivals and special events to mobilize their masses and to present political ideals to the public. The French revolutionaries used festivity to present and inculcate new values.5 The Nazi government politicized popular festivities such as the Day of German Labor.6 Soviet socialism also embraced mass events and festivities as a political tool. Historian Karen Petrone’s work illustrates how Soviet organizers and agitators coordinated much of their work around holidays and special events.7 Historian Malte Rolf has likewise demonstrated the political functions of mass festivals in the Soviet Union in the 1920s and 1930s, designed not as mere propaganda or distractions but rather as a constituent element of the socialist project, designed to project proper values to the population and to build socialism.8 That the GDR’s Gymnastics and Sports Festivals were multisports festivals and not single sports events made them a particularly rich site for mass mobilization campaigns. As historian Robert Edelman notes in his study of spectator sports in the Soviet Union, single sports events invite spectators to focus on the sports competition, whereas multisports festivals divert attention to the event itself, “the coming together of athletes from different republics and nations in festivals of youth, dynamism, and optimism.”9 Indeed, state and media representations of the Gymnastics and Sports Festivals in the GDR focused on the festivals as a whole and not on the athletic competitions. The three Festschrifts published to document the 1956 festival and distributed throughout East Germany included only one report on the sports competitions.

5 Mona Ozouf, Festivals and the French Revolution (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988). 6 Alf Lüdtke, “What Happened to the Fiery Red Glow? Workers’ Experiences and German Fascism,” in The History of Everyday Life: Reconstructing Historical Experiences and Ways of Life, ed. Alf Lüdtke (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995), 198–251. 7 Karen Petrone, Life has Become More Joyous, Comrades: Celebrations in the Time of Stalin (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2000). 8 Malte Rolf, Das sowjetische Massenfest (Hamburg: Hamburger Edition, 2006). For an analysis of the “language” and “grammar” of the Czechoslovak Spartakiads during the communist era, see Petr Roubal, “Politics of Gymnastics: Mass Gymnastic Displays under Communism in Central and Eastern Europe,” Body and Society 9, no. 2 (2003): 1–25. 9 Robert Edelman, Serious Fun: A History of Spectator Sports in the USSR (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 39.

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Instead, they featured multiple articles on the opening and closing ceremonies, the Parade of Athletes, the Sports Show, the attendance of West German guests, the construction of the Zentralstadion, and general festival events.10 Mass mobilization campaigns centered on the Leipzig sports festivals began well in advance of the events.11 In May 1955 a full fifteen months before the August 1956 Gymnastics and Sports Festival, the festival’s Organizational Bureau developed an official “Agitation Plan.” It requested newspapers throughout the GDR to print articles on the festival, asked the DEFA film studio to produce short newsreels and full-length documentary films, and requested that radio stations conduct live interviews with local veterans of German sports and broadcast ten minute features on festival preparations every Thursday, playing the song “Athletes are Fighters for Unity and Freedom” to introduce each report. The Plan also included a monthly festival newsletter, promotional posters, and three full-color, lengthy Festschrifts. The Agitation Plan also asked that all BSGs hold meetings between September 1955 and January 1956 to celebrate the history of sports festivals in Germany and to promote the upcoming festival.12 Particularly in 1956 and to some extent in 1959, the East German government extended its Agitation Plan to encompass West Germany.13 10 Festausschuss II. Deutsches Turn- und Sportfest Leipzig 1956, ed. An die Turner und Sportler ganz Deutschlands: Festschrift II. Deutsches Turn- und Sportfest Leipzig August 1956, Nr. 1 (Berlin: Sportverlag Berlin, 1956) (hereafter An die Turner und Sportler); Festausschuss II. Deutsches Turn- und Sportfest Leipzig 1956, ed., Unser Gruss den deutschen Turnern und Sportlern: Festschrift II. Deutsches Turn- und Sportfest August 1956, Nr. 2 (Berlin: Sportverlag Berlin, 1956) (hereafter Unser Gruss); Festausschuss II. Deutsches Turn- und Sportfest Leipzig 1956, ed., So war es: Festschrift II. Deutsches Turn und Sportfest, August 1956, Nr. 3 (Berlin: Sportverlag Berlin, 1956) (hereafter So war es). 11 Barbara Keys demonstrates that the Nazis also devoted significant time and resources to “pre-Olympic publicity,” directed at both national and international audiences. They coordinated press releases with the German News Agency, the German Broadcasting Company, and the German Railway Publicity Department, and planned slide shows, postcards, badges, radio lectures, exhibitions, display windows, lecture tours, advertisements, and guidebooks. See Globalizing Sport: National Rivalry and International Community in the 1930s (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006), 144–145. 12 Sportmuseum Leipzig—Turnfest Archiv (hereafter cited as SML-TSF-A), AOrgbDTSF II-1956, 4/3, “Agitationsplan,” 2 May 1955. 13 As an expression of Westarbeit, East Germany also encouraged West Germans to attend athletic competitions hosted in Berlin, including the Weltfestspiele der Jugend und Studenten, hosted in East Berlin in 1951. See Kristin Rybicki, “Sportler an einen Tisch!—Berlin und die ‘Westarbeit’ des Deutschen Sportausschusses in den frühen 1950er Jahren,” in Sportstadt Berlin im Kalten Krieg: Prestigekämpfe und Systemwettstreit, ed. Jutta Braun and Hans Joachim Teichler (Berlin: Christoph Links, 2006), 66–95. See

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It proclaimed the sports festivals the “German” Gymnastics and Sports Festivals and celebrated them as festivals for all Germans. This was part of the government’s broader efforts in the 1950s to proclaim East Germany the true Germany by celebrating how progressive German traditions lived on in the GDR, in contrast to the fascist militarism that lived on in the Federal Republic. Inviting West German guests to travel to East Germany also served as a symbolic counter image to the more common and often permanent movement of East Germans to West Germany in what the East German government would describe as “flight from the Republic” (Republikflucht); one in six East Germans fled the GDR in the 1950s.14 Such outreach to West Germany also harkened back to the Workers’ Olympiads of the 1920s and 1930s, when workers from multiple countries came together, often despite government discouragement, to celebrate socialist internationalism at alternative sports festivals. Over 100,000 working-class athletes from twenty-six countries had participated in the Second Olympiad in 1931 in Vienna.15 Only 3,500 West Germans had traveled to Leipzig to attend the first German Gymnastics and Sports Festival in 1954—a number entirely unsatisfactory to festival organizers16—so in 1956 the government substantially stepped up its publicity efforts, and the Organizational Bureau established a Western Office to coordinate promotion and media coverage in West Germany. The special All-German Festival Committee, founded on 2 April 1955, included forty-four West German representatives and met several times before disbanding on 14 April 1956, when the West German Sports Federation forbade West German athletes from participating in festival competitions. Nonetheless, over 32,000 West German athletes, accompanied by sixty-two West German journalists, traveled to Leipzig to enjoy the event as spectators, and

also David Childs, “The German Democratic Republic,” in Sport under Communism: The U.S.S.R., Czechoslovakia, The G.D.R., China, Cuba, ed. James Riordan (Montreal: McGillQueen’s University Press, 1978), 79. 14 Patrick Major, “Going West: The Open Border and the Problem of Republikflucht,” in The Workers’ and Peasants’ State: Communism and Society in East Germany Under Ulbricht 1945–1971, ed. Patrick Major and Jonathan Osmond (Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 2002), 191. 15 Robert Wheeler, “Organized Sport and Organized Labour: The Workers’ Sports Movement,” Journal of Contemporary History 13, no. 2 (1978): 200–202. 16 Sächsisches Staatsarchiv Leipzig (hereafter SächsStAL), SED IV 15/01/527, “Bericht über das I. Deutsche Turn- und Sportfest in Leipzig, vom 18–22.8 1954,” 2.

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despite the ban on athletes, 278 competed, including the West German youth gymnastics champion.17 Even citizens who never attended the festivals remembered the extensive festival promotion in all corners of the GDR. Soccer player Horst Heck from Wittenberg recalled seeing posters and publications months in advance of each festival, even though he never attended.18 Dieter Stellmacher, also from Wittenberg and one of Heck’s teammates in the 1950s, never traveled to the festivals, but he saw a documentary newsreel in the movie theater and described the festivals as “very impressive.”19 Skier Lothar Finze from Köthen, who likewise never attended, remembered that it “was not only an athletic event, but also a cultural event” and reported that participants and spectators enjoyed free admission to festival activities.20 In addition to coordinating general publicity to promote the festivals, organizers also held “socialist competitions.” Journalists and radio stations could compete for cash prizes for the best newspaper and radio coverage of the festival.21 The Organizational Bureau also announced competitions for artists and composers and offered cash prizes for those who best captured athletic themes in their art and music. Divisions in the music category included sports marches, sports songs, and dance music.22 17 Bundesarchiv Berlin (hereafter BAB), DR 5 191, Vorlage 13/2/56, “Auswertung des II. Deutschen Turn- und Sportfestes vom 2. bis 5. August 1956 in Leipzig,” 7–11. Katherine Pence’s work on the Leipzig trade fairs in the 1950s reveals how the East German government also saw the trade fairs as a way to highlight East Germany’s continuation of German traditions. The government took steps to invite West Germans to the fairs and celebrated them as all-German events. See “ ‘A World in Miniature’: The Leipzig Trade Fairs in the 1950s and East German Consumer Citizenship,” in Consuming Germany in the Cold War, ed. David F. Crew (Oxford and New York: Berg, 2003), 21–50. For an account of a soccer game that the local SED in the city of Sonneberg sponsored as a propaganda stunt on 31 July 1949 between Sonneberg and the western city of Neustadt, with the boundary between Sonneberg and Neustadt constituting the midfield line, see Edith Sheffer, “On Edge: Building the Border in East and West Germany,” Central European History 40, no. 2 (2007): 310–311. 18 Manfred Jentzsch, Siegfried Rössner, and Horst Heck, interview by author, Wittenberg, Germany, 17 May 2005. 19 Dieter Stellmacher, interview by author, Wittenberg, Germany, 26 May 2005. 20 Lothar Finze and Christa Finze, interview by author, Köthen, Germany, 10 July 2004. 21 SML-TSF-A, AOrgbDTSF II-1956, 4/1, “Wettbewerb der demokratischen Presse und des Rundfunks für das II. Deutsche Turn- und Sportfest vom 2. bis 5. August 1956 in Leipzig.” 22 Sportmuseum Leipzig-Dokumente (hereafter SML-Dokumente), D 3395, II. Deutsches Turn und Sportfest, Informationsblatt des Organizations-Büros Nr. 1 (Leipzig, 28 December 1955).

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Festival publicity also promoted general athletic participation. Just as a one-time Massenwaldlauf could motivate citizens to pursue sports more regularly, so could the Gymnastics and Sports Festivals lead to regular athletic activity. Many of the festival slogans published in newspapers, newsletters, and on posters around town focused on mass participation in sports. An example read, “Athletes in the Countryside! Continue to participate in regular athletics!” One of the songs featured at the 1959 Gymnastics and Sports Festival, “We Are There,” built upon Walter Ulbricht’s famous slogan “Jedermann an jedem Ort, jede Woche einmal Sport.”23 The festivals offered athletic opportunities to all visitors and spectators by placing gymnastics equipment in public areas to win people over to sports; 21,700 won a special Sports Medal designed for the 1956 festival.24 In the months before the festival, leaders also sought to draw as many citizens as possible into local athletic activity. In 1956, 295,630 citizens including 9,350 West Germans participated in county-level Gymnastics and Sports Festivals.25 In the district of Leipzig, 40,000 athletes and workers fulfilled some of the requirements for the BAV Sports Medal.26 Publicity surrounding the 1959 festival celebrated towns and enterprises that sponsored athletic events in conjunction with festival mobilization efforts. One newsletter praised Altenburg for organizing a County Gymnastics and Sports Festival that included not only competitions, but also a parade through the streets of Altenburg and a Sports Show in the courtyard of the Altenburg castle performed for an audience of 1000 spectators. Many citizens also won medals at the festival.27 One Festschrift praised workers at the enterprise VEB Schwermaschinenbau ‘S. M. Kirow’ for their contributions to the 1959 festival. Of the enterprise’s 3000 workers, 700 were members of the BSG Motor Leipzig-West, and over 100 volunteered to participate in the 1959 Osttribüne, even though the enterprise’s quota was only eighty. The enterprise organized a sports festival and regular gymnastics breaks, and workers donated money to the upcoming festival.28 The promotional campaigns worked to mobilize East German citizens around the coming event and thereby to cultivate a collective 23 SML-Dokumente, D 1192, II. Deutsches Turn- und Sportfest, Informationsblatt des Organisationsbüros, Nr. 8 (Leipzig, 6 June 1956); SML-Dokumente, D 4738 “Wir sind dabei.” 24 BAB, DR 5 191, Vorlage 13/2/56, “Auswertung des II. Deutschen Turn- und Sportfestes vom 2. bis. 5 August 1956 in Leipzig,” 24. 25 Ibid., 5. 26 Ibid., 4. 27 Der Fest-Ruf III. Deutsches Turn- und Sportfest, Nr. 7 ( July 1959), 3–4. 28 SML, Leipzig ruft zum III. Deutschen Turn- und Sportfest, Festschrift Nr. 1 (1959), 1–2.

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anticipation. The language of mass mobilization continued long after each festival ended, prolonging the potential effect on the population and preparing them for the next big event. Each festival was part of a broader, total, mass mobilization project. No matter how successful any one festival was, the work of socialism was not complete, and the next festival had to be even more successful. As one analysis of the 1956 festival emphasized: “Great successes should not put one to sleep, but rather motivate one to new and even better accomplishments.”29 Even as the government patted itself on the back for past successes, it emphasized the need for constant movement forward, improvement, and further mobilization. A newsletter published in November 1958 to promote the Gymnastics and Sports Festival in August 1959 made this intent clear: “A picture from the Second German Gymnastics and Sports Festival—unforgettable days for all who were there. Next year, our festival will be even more beautiful.”30 Choreographed Collectivity and Discipline East German leaders viewed the festivals as rituals of state and took an interest in all stages of the planning process and the orchestration of the actual festivals.31 Walter Ulbricht gave the official opening speech for the 1956 Festival at the Battle of the Nations Memorial in Leipzig.32 Ulbricht and fellow Party leaders had prominent seats at the festivals, directly across from the Osttribüne, thus allowing them an unimpeded view of the political slogans. Likewise, during the Sunday morning “Parade of Athletes”—modeled in part on the Physical Culture Parades of the Soviet Union—athletes paraded past a tribunal on which Ulbricht and other Party leaders stood.33 Members of the Politbüro, including 29 Heinz Hasenkrüger, “Einige kritische Bemerkungen zur Sportschau 1956,” Theorie und Praxis der Körperkultur 5 (December 1956): 962. 30 Der Fest-Ruf III. Deutsches Turn- und Sportfest, Nr. 2 (November 1958). 31 Sports festivals were just as politicized in communist China, with the presence of elite political leaders and the use of placard sections. See Brownell, 133, 143. 32 Walter Ulbricht, “Grosses Werk gedeiht nur durch Einigkeit: Aus der Begrüssungsrede anlässlich der Eröffnung des II. Deutschen Turn- und Sportfest vom 2. bis 5. August 1956 in Leipzig,” in Sport frei: Walter Ulbricht, Vorbild, Lehrer und Freund der Deutschen Sportler, ed. Günther Erbach, et al. (Berlin: Sportverlag Berlin, 1963), 303–308. 33 BAB, DR 5 191, Vorlage 13/2/56, “Auswertung des II. Deutsches Turn- und Sportfestes vom 2. bis 5. August 1956 in Leipzig,” 19; Unser Gruss, 19. For more on physical culture parades in the USSR, see Petrone, chapter 2. For more on parades and political tribunals on the occasions of 1 May and GDR anniversary celebrations, see

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Walter Ulbricht, also gave direct input about the choreography of the synchronized exercises that comprised the Sports Show.34 These synchronized exercises were the most politically significant feature of the Gymnastics and Sports Festivals as rituals of state. Designed to represent the key values of collectivity, discipline, and order, they received the most careful attention. As one organizer succinctly stated, the Sports Show was the “embodiment of the socialist idea of our state.”35 Erich Riedeberger, president of the Festival Committee in 1956, the first festival to feature a Sports Show, described the Sports Show as carrying forward the tradition of synchronized exercises featured at past German festivals, reflecting the development of socialist society, and demonstrating the generous support the government gave physical culture and sports.36 Close to 13,000 athletes participated in the 1956 Sports Show, including representatives from each of the GDR’s Sports Associations (SVs), a contingent from the military, a group from a special physical training institute, and a large number of children and teenagers. Some exercises featured simple gymnastics, whereas others incorporated apparatus equipment, human pyramids, and difficult exercises involving headstands and handstands.37 Historian Adelheid von Saldern has described the “choreographed unity” (inszenierte Einigkeit) that East German city festivals displayed;38 the same could be said for the East German Sports Shows. The Sports Shows built upon pre-existing German historical traditions in which both political states and political movements had used mass synchronized displays to represent collectivity and unity. During the nineteenth century, synchronized exercises known as “free” and “order” exercises became prominent at gymnastics festivals in Germany. Monika Gibas and Rainer Gries, “‘Vorschlag für den Ersten Mai: die Führung zieht am Volk vorbei!’ Überlegungen zur Geschichte der Tribüne in der DDR,” Deutschland Archiv 5 (1995): 481–494. 34 See SML-Dokumente, D 5002, “Erste Probe der Miniaturschau zum grossen Fest: Mitglieder des Politbüros und der Regierung in der Sporthalle der DHfK,” Leipziger Volkszeitung, 17 April 1956. The Sportmuseum Leipzig holds a scrapbook, prepared by a local GDR sports functionary, including all Leipziger Volkszeitung articles on the construction of the Zentralstadion in 1955–1956 and on the 1956 Gymnastics and Sports Festival. 35 Hasenkrüger, 962. 36 Unser Gruss, 20. 37 So war es, 40. 38 See Adelheid von Saldern, “Einleitung: Herrschaft und Repräsentation in DDRStädten,” in Inszenierte Einigkeit: Herrschaftsrepräsentationen in DDR-Städten, ed. Adelheid von Saldern (Stuttgart: F. Steiner, 2003), 9–58.

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Free exercises featured gymnasts moving their bodies following the commands of a leader, and order exercises required gymnasts to move as a group and create formations following the commands of the leader. These exercises were paramilitary in nature and conducive to discipline, obedience, collectivism, conformity, and subordination.39 The working-class movement adopted these synchronized gymnastics exercises and featured them in the inaugural Workers’ Gymnastics and Sports Festival held in Leipzig in 1922, where George Benedix led 16,000 athletes in a synchronized gymnastics display. The GDR claimed the 1922 festival as a direct inspiration for its own Sports Shows.40 The National Socialists also incorporated synchronization into their gymnastics festivals and into the marches and mass formations that were so prominent in National Socialist public life.41 The Nazis used the 1936 Summer Olympic Games to broadcast a positive message about the new government to citizens and to the international community.42 Although its festivals functioned similarly to those sponsored by the Nazi government, the GDR was beholden to an antifascist legitimation myth and would deny all parallels between its celebrated Sports Shows and Nazi festival culture. Instead, it chose to celebrate links with the mass synchronized festivals that had long been a part of German socialist culture. East Germany’s synchronized displays also resembled the physical culture parades of the Soviet Union.43 As Malte Rolf has shown, the Soviet Union exported its strategy of organizing politicized festivals to its Eastern European satellite states after World War Two, yet allowed national leaders to choose a festival type that correlated the most closely with indigenous traditions.44 Because of the significance of gymnastics festivals and synchronized displays in the history of the

39 Berit Elisabeth Dencker, “Popular Gymnastics and the Military Spirit in Germany, 1848–1871,” Central European History 34, no. 4 (2001): 505–506. 40 For basic information on each of the German Turnfeste, beginning in 1860, see Volker Rodekamp, ed., Sport Schau: Ausstellung Deutsche Turnfeste 1860 bis 2002 (Leipzig: Stadtgeschichtliches Museum, 2002), 11–49. 41 Hartmut Lissinna, Nationale Sportfeste im nationalsozialistischen Deutschland (Mannheim: Palatium, 1997). 42 Richard Mandell The Nazi Olympics, 2nd ed. (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1987). 43 Petrone, chapter 2. Mike O’Mahony also discusses artistic representations of Soviet physical cultural parades in Sport in the USSR: Physical Culture —Visual Culture (London: Reaktion Books, 2006), chapter 3. 44 Rolf, 329–337.

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German gymnastics and sports movements, the festival—rather than the parade—became the ideal form for the East German government. The Soviet Union and other socialist bloc nations introduced one innovation that distinguished their festivals from earlier gymnastics festivals and highlighted that they aimed to promote collectivity and unity as specifically socialist values. This innovation was known in the GDR as the Osttribüne, which made its debut at the 1956 festival.45 The 12,000 seat Osttribüne, situated on the east side of the Zentralstadion, occupied an area of 155 by 60 meters. Participants had a number of colored flags attached to two poles next to their chairs. When the Command Tower on the opposite side of the field gave the signal, each participant raised the appropriate colored flag according to the schedule taped to the chair in front of him or her. When all 12,000 participants raised their flags simultaneously, the flags spelled out political messages for the spectators inside the stadium and for the leaders of the GDR who were seated directly opposite the Osttribüne. Slogans included “The Glory of Work,” “Friendship,” “Knowledge is Power,” “Strengthen our GDR,” and “FDJ—Fighting Reserve of the Party.”46 The East German government carefully considered how its Sports Show should represent the GDR. Reflecting the importance of the inaugural Sports Show, the festival’s Organizational Bureau held a “Miniature Show” in Leipzig on 14–15 April 1956, four months before the Second German Gymnastics and Sports Festival. At the Miniature Show, Politbüro members, including Walter Ulbricht, critiqued the planned exercises. The political and sports officials at the Miniature Show communicated requirements for improvement to choreographers, musicians, and costume designers in attendance. Anthropologist Susan Brownell, in her study of sports in Communist China, describes mass sports events and festivals as a “public display of the legitimate body,” and she emphasizes that, as such, a study of the negotiations that go into choreographing public festivals is as revealing about political goals as the final festival itself.47 As discussions about the Miniature Show reveal, the East German government saw the Sports Show as the political

45 Heinz Spitzbarth, “ ‘Osttribüne—Achtung!’ Wenn mehr als 12.500 ‘Turner’ zu einer Mannschaft gehören,” in Sport Schau, 111. 46 Ibid., and SML-Dokumente, D 478, “Merkblatt für die Teilnehmer an den Darbietungen auf der Osttribüne. II. Deutsches Turn- und Sportfest in Leipzig von 2. bis 5. August 1956.” 47 Brownell, 28–29.

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highpoint of the festival and wanted to present the collectivity and discipline of its population and to highlight the energy and enthusiasm that socialist citizens brought to their work and leisure. To maximize the aesthetic impact of the Sports Show, political leaders and festival planners hoped to create a perfect unity of music, costume, and motion. Contemporary East German musicians composed original music for each of the nineteen groups, and their compositions faced intense critique at the Miniature Show. Evaluators explicitly told the composers for SV Wismut, SV Aktivist, and SV Aufbau to incorporate more motifs from popular labor songs into their compositions. In contrast, they asked composers for the SV Traktor, the Sports Association for agricultural workers, to incorporate more traditional folk music. Motifs that already resonated with both the urban and rural sectors of the population should make the music—and by extension the festival itself—more memorable. According to the music recommendation, “The incorporation of traditional motifs from labor and folk songs is essential. The goal of the musical compositions must be that they will live on in the hearts of the young for years.” Evaluators also sent the designers who had created special costumes for each of the nineteen groups back to the drawing boards, primarily because their choice of colors was too dreary. As one suggestion glibly stated: “Fight against dead colors.”48 The Sports Show participants, as representatives of the GDR, should appear colorful, not drab. Evaluators also found much to criticize in the synchronized exercises themselves. The biggest criticism involved the tempo of the exercises. Most groups overshot their allotted time slots. Critics suggested that choreographers not cut exercises but rather eliminate all breaks including even momentary pauses. “No standing still is permissible in the entire exercise,” critics told one group. “The youth must always be in motion.” Another group learned that, “The tempo of the exercise must be livelier.”49 The Sports Show should be fast, efficient, and in constant motion, moving towards the future. Evaluators similarly criticized the exercises performed by SV Traktor: “The tempo of the Traktor exercise 48 SML-TSF-A, AOrgbDTSF II-1956, 5/4, “Protokoll von der Auswertung der Miniatur-Sportschau vom 14.–15. April 1956 in Leipzig” and “Schlussfolgerungen von der Auswertung der Miniaturschau für die Massenübungen zum II. Deutschen Turnund Sportfest am 15. April 1956 in Leipzig.” For more on state goals for music, see David Tompkins, “Composing the Party Line: Music and Politics in Poland and East Germany, 1948–1957” (PhD Dissertation, Columbia University Press, 2004). 49 Ibid.

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conveys the tempo of the individual farmer; however it should convey instead the tempo of the rapidly developing collective farm.”50 This concern reflected the East German government’s efforts in the 1950s to collectivize agriculture and to encourage the participation of farmers in new socialist culture. Efforts to bring sports to the countryside through the Sports Days for the Rural Population reflected the same objective. Ironically, however, just as they asked the SV Traktor to include folk music, so did evaluators simultaneously ask the SV Traktor to introduce more folk dance and natural elements into its exercise, chastising them for not seeing that “A relationship to nature is missing.”51 These representatives of GDR agriculture were to be thoroughly modern and efficient collective farmers, yet they were simultaneously to display their historical attachment to the land and their traditional folk dances. The East German government wanted the Sports Show to paint East Germany in its best light. Colorful costumes would represent the GDR as a lively and happy society, music that resonated with people’s pre-existing preferences would help the music and the overall festival remain in people’s minds long after the festival was over, and energetic, upbeat gymnastics exercises would show that East Germany was a society mobilizing itself to build socialism. The participants themselves, by learning to adopt an appropriate “socialist” tempo as they performed their exercises, could also internalize the quick energetic tempo and retain it in their daily productive lives. As the 1959 festival program indicated, the Sports Show is “a valuable means of collective education and cultivates socialist thought and action.”52 The East German government also intended that the Osttribüne would represent the principles of collectivity and discipline to spectators and would instill these attributes in participants. In July 1956, one month before the debut of the Osttribüne, participants held a practice session in Leipzig. Like the Miniature Show, this practice session allowed evaluators to identify mistakes and problems. Some mistakes emerged as a result of flawed choreography: a row of false colors or a lack of symmetry and balance only became obvious when the Osttribüne practiced as a whole. However, evaluators declared that many mistakes resulted from

Ibid. Ibid. 52 SML, DTSB-Organisationsbüro für das III Deutsche Turn- und Sportfest, Abteilung Agitation und Propaganda, ed. Festprogramm des III. Deutschen Turn- und Sportfest Leipzig, 13–16 August 1959 (1959), 44. 50 51

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the poor performance of the Osttribüne participants, who sometimes raised the wrong colored flag or else let a flag dip in the middle. As organizers told Osttribüne participants, the Osttribüne required “intelligent, conscious, and above all disciplined people” to perform before the 100,000 spectators because, “If only one of the 12,000 participants fails to do his or her job, or raises the false color, then the entire display of picture and word will be rendered unrecognizable.”53 In other words, each individual had to adhere perfectly to the collective, and even one straggler, out of a group of 12,000, would destroy the impression of perfect unity. Guidelines for 1959 echoed this sentiment, declaring that, “A single falsely displayed color could render the entire image or slogan unrecognizable.”54 Both the Sports Show and the Osttribüne, then, should provide spectators with a perfectly coordinated collective display. Likewise, participants should understand the critical importance of their individual contribution to the collective. This was clear to some participants. In an oral history interview, cyclist Günther Deckert, who participated in the 1956 and 1959 Osttribüne, still remembered the extreme importance of total unity and coordination, emphasizing that “it all had to come together,” and that even one person’s mistake could ruin the entire effect.55 Gymnast Siegfried Müller, who trained the children’s Sports Show groups starting in 1959, remembered that he always had to have about fifty extra children ready to perform in case some of the children got sick or otherwise could not participate. He proclaimed that “if only one person was missing, the entire effect was ruined.”56 To government leaders and festival organizers, the behavior of festival participants also contributed to the overall impression that the event would make on the East German population. Festival organizers established expectations for appropriate conduct. Participants should not only represent discipline, order, and a commitment to the collective during their performances, but should also embody these qualities even while not performing. The collective ideal was manifested in the requirement that participants in the Sports Show and the Osttribüne

53 SML-Dokumente, D 478, “Merkblatt für die Teilnehmer an den Darbietungen auf der Osttribüne.” 54 SML-Dokumente, D 180, “Merkblatt für die Teilnehmer an den Darbietungen des Bezirksübungsverbandes 10, Osttribüne.” 55 Deckert, interview. 56 Müller, interview.

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room together during the festival.57 Günther Deckert remembered that he and other Osttribüne participants slept in a Leipzig school.58 This was even true for participants from the city of Leipzig, who could have easily commuted from home.59 Furthermore, organizers coordinated the Osttribüne participants into a quasi-military structure that reflected the democratic centralism and militarism that characterized much of East German life. Each participant belonged to a group of ten, which in turn belonged to a group of one hundred. Leaders of the groups of one hundred reported directly to the main festival organizers. During the entire festival, everybody reported to his or her group of ten, ideally never leaving the group without permission from the leader. As guidelines stated, “Never leave your group unnecessarily; ease the work of your group of ten leader through your good discipline.”60 The special march that festival participants should learn, diagrammed in their festival booklet, also conveyed militaristic undertones. According to the 1956 guidelines, “From the train station, you should march collectively to your community quarters.”61 The guidelines emphasized that, “It is your responsibility to create a proper festival atmosphere through your disciplined behavior and the singing of sports songs.”62 These quasi-military requirements reveal not only that the GDR used sports to create a militarized society, but also that this militarization was as much about disciplining the population as it was about actual preparations for a military conflict.63 The Parade of Athletes at the 1956 festival also celebrated paramilitarism and discipline. As the final evaluation of the 1956 festival declared, the SV Dynamo and SV Vorwärts (representing Army and Police) “stabilized and strengthened the

SML, Organisationsbüro III. Deutsches Turn- und Sportfest, Abteilung Massenübungen, ed. Technisches Merkblatt für die Teilnehmer der Sportschau und der Festübungen (1959), 4–5 (hereafter Technisches Merkblatt 1959). 58 Deckert, interview. 59 SML-Dokumente, D 5002, “Gesamtappell des Verbandes der 12,000 am 8. Juli,” Leipziger Volkszeitung, 6 June 1956. 60 SML, Technisches Merkblatt 1956, 2–3. 61 Ibid., 7. 62 Ibid., 4. 63 See Corey Ross, “ ‘Protecting the Accomplishments of Socialism’? The (Re)militarization of Life in the German Democratic Republic,” in The Workers’ and Peasants’ State, 78–93. 57

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bond between armed forces and workers” through their “conscious and disciplined participation” in the Parade of Athletes.64 The government desired a festival atmosphere defined by order, discipline, and marching, not lighthearted spontaneity. Guidelines in 1956 encouraged Osttribüne participants always to follow the orders of their leaders, “even when it contradicts your personal wishes.” It was necessary that “every participant” displayed “strict discipline” and “suppressed personal wishes and inclinations in the interest of the community.”65 The festival was work, not play.66 Günther Deckert remembered that organizers assigned Osttribüne participants to different events at the festival, rather than allowing them to choose for themselves what events to attend. He attended the opening ceremony at the Battle of the Nations Memorial and the swimming competitions. He added that it was a relief when there was nothing required in the late evenings because he was often tired from the day’s activities.67 Siegfried Müller also recalled that festival organizers planned each day’s activities and left participants little free time. He emphasized that it was challenging to be in charge of fifty children for twenty-four hours a day and to make certain that they behaved.68 Government leaders and organizers also designed the festivals to convey the underlying theme of German unity that East Germany claimed to pursue in the 1950s. Big events such as the opening ceremony, the Parade of Athletes, and the closing ceremony incorporated references to the presence of West Germans at the festivals and calls to both East and West Germans to work together to achieve German unity. Walter Ulbricht’s opening speech in 1956 at the Battle of the Nations Memorial, reprinted in the Party newspaper Neues Deutschland the next morning, laid out the “political objectives” of the festival regarding the national question. Over 200,000 guests attended the opening, including young

64 BAB, DR 5 191, Vorlage 13/2/56, “Auswertung des II. Deutschen Turn- und Sportfestes vom 2. bis 5. August 1956 in Leipzig,” 3. 65 SML, Technisches Merkblatt 1956, 2–3. 66 Shelley Baranowski demonstrates that the National Socialist “Strength through Joy” program had a similarly regimented vision for proper behavior during group vacations, encouraging commitment to the community over personal pleasure and emphasizing punctuality and obedience. See Strength through Joy: Consumerism and Mass Tourism in the Third Reich (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 138, 147. 67 Deckert, interview. 68 Müller, interview.

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Osttribüne participant Günther Deckert.69 Ulbricht greeted guests from all over East and West Germany and harkened back to the nineteenthcentury German gymnastics movement that helped unite Germany, hoping to inspire the divided Germans of the 1950s to likewise strive for German unity in a socialist state. According to Ulbricht, “May strength emanate from the Second German Gymnastics and Sports Festival that will give our West German brothers and sisters renewed courage for their fight for peace, for the fight for the reunification of Germany in a peaceful, democratic, progressive state.”70 Official festival slogans also celebrated German unity, including “Gymnasts and athletes from all corners of our fatherland! Come in August of this year to Leipzig for the Second German Gymnastics and Sports Festival”; “The Second German Gymnastics and Sports Festival in Leipzig—A demonstration of the entire German Volk for national unity and freedom!”; and “German gymnasts! Awaken the progressive tradition of German gymnastics into new life! Transform gymnastics into a priority of the entire Volk!”71 The Parade of Athletes at the 1956 festival also celebrated East-West German unity. Approximately 85,000 athletes marched in the parade, including 12,000 West Germans.72 Newsreels that broadcast the festival throughout East Germany prominently featured the West German delegations marching in the Parade.73 Some East German citizens perceived that the state had political goals for its sports festivals, although it is difficult to ascertain from post-reunification interviews if they were as fully aware of the political dimensions of the festivals in the 1950s as they are today. One former citizen, Peter Hähnel, was quite cynical about the festivals, comparing them to the bread and circus acts of Imperial Rome, designed to distract citizens from political matters.74 Werner Holtzschke considered the festivals a way for East Germany to display how well its government supported sports.75 Dieter Stellmacher likewise saw the festivals as a form

69 BAB, DR 5 191, Vorlage 13/2/56, “Auswertung des II. Deutschen Turn- und Sportfestes vom 2. bis 5. August 1956 in Leipzig,” 18; Deckert, interview. 70 Ulbricht, 307. 71 DR 5 182, Sekretariatsvorlage 8/3d/56, “Losungen zum II. Deutschen Turnund Sportfest.” 72 BAB, DR 5 191, Vorlage 13/2/56, “Auswertung des II. Deutschen Turn- und Sportfestes vom 2. bis 5. August 1956 in Leipzig,” 19. 73 Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv, BCSP 2685, “4 August 1956.” 74 Hähnel, interview. 75 Holtschke, interview.

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of state self-representation, highlighting the government’s support of mass sports and celebrating work productivity and health.76 Siegfried Müller similarly saw the festivals as designed to promote sports to East German citizens and to represent East Germany to the international community. He remembered Osttribüne slogans such as “Anniversary of the Republic” and “Children are our Future.” He also recalled the festival atmosphere as one of “collegiality, camaraderie, and mutual help.”77 Günther Deckert echoed Müller, remembering the festivals as promoting the “recognition” of the GDR and recalling slogans such as “SED” and “Onwards!” He also remembered that the festival publicity ranged widely inside and outside the GDR.78 Archival records, published sources, and oral history interviews all indicate that the East German government had high ambitions for its Gymnastics and Sports Festivals. They would not only represent the GDR at its best, but also help inculcate among East Germans values such as discipline and collectivity. They could also help East Germans develop pride in their government and society. These big events would ideally create “enduring memories” for participants and spectators from both East and West Germany.79 Yet how did East Germany’s goals for its festivals translate into practice? Did East German citizens greet the festivals with enthusiasm? Did the festivals help produce greater discipline and unity in East German citizens? Did West German visitors take away a positive impression of East Germany? What kinds of unexpected problems did festival organizers encounter? In short, were East Germany’s Gymnastics and Sports Festivals successful as rituals of state? Behind the Choreography: Citizen Experiences In 1956 the festival committee took steps to help shape citizens’ responses to the festival through its media coverage and through festival newsletters and Festschrifts distributed all around East Germany. One strategy was to emphasize that West German visitors were impressed with the festival. The government printed a brochure, “We were there,” which Stellmacher, interview. Müller, interview. 78 Deckert, interview. 79 BAB, DR 5 191, Vorlage 13/2/56, “Auswertung des II. Deutschen Turn- und Sportfestes vom 2. bis 5. August 1956 in Leipzig,” 17. 76 77

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featured positive excerpts from West German newspapers sympathetic to the GDR. For example, the brochure emphasized that the Deutsche Volkszeitung in Düsseldorf from 2 June 1956 lauded the East German government’s generous support of sports and encouraged the West German government to spend more money on sports. It quoted the Hamburger Echo from 10 August, which described the festival as “superlative,” claiming that the room and board provided for West German guests was almost embarrassing in its generosity.80 The East German organizers clearly hoped that by highlighting the positive responses of West Germans, they would help East Germans develop more pride in their socialist state.81 The official festival Festschrifts also featured many glowing, hyperbolic statements about the festival, such as: “There are hardly words for what we saw and what our happy hearts experienced. Young people sat still, as did happy children. Old, gray-haired people were not ashamed of their tears of joy. People scarcely dared to clap and disturb the harmony of movement and color.”82 They also presented a number of carefully crafted firsthand reports on the festival. An East German named E. Greulich wrote one of the more intriguing essays, most likely with heavy official input. Greulich told readers about his experience showing an unnamed West German couple from Hamburg around Leipzig during the 1956 festival. The West German husband, who took almost an entire roll of photographs, was very impressed by Leipzig, Greulich wrote, especially by the many construction sites and new apartment houses. The West German also admired how Leipzig residents had decorated their streets and homes. He admitted that he had always believed that in East Germany, everything was bland and uniform and prepared according to “orders from above,” but that he recognized the individuality with which East German residents decorated their streets and homes. The West German also praised the enormous 100,000-seat Zentralstadion and found the synchronized gymnastics exercises at the Sports Show to be moving. When the East German Greulich admired the car of his West German guest, the West German answered that there were many such cars 80 SML-Dokumente, D 1623, “Wir waren dabei,” prepared by Ausschuss für Deutsche Einheit, 13 August 1956. 81 For more on “The West in the East,” see Christopher Klessmann, “Workers in the Workers’ State: German Traditions, the Soviet Model and the Magnetic Attraction of West Germany,” in The Divided Past: Rewriting Post-War German History, ed. Christoph Klessmann (Oxford and New York: Berg, 2001), 23–29. 82 So war es, 18.

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in West Germany, but that the great Leipzig sports stadium and the synchronized spectacle on its field were “unique here in Germany and maybe in the whole world.” The West German wife then summed up her feelings about the entire festival with the words: “Well, I am overwhelmed; I’ve never seen anything like this. We do not have anything like this in West Germany!”83 Greulich’s essay highlights some of East Germany’s most troublesome problems. One challenge for East Germany from the start was that its citizens always compared their standard of living not to those living in other socialist bloc countries, but rather to those in West Germany.84 In this story Greulich—the stand-in for an East German everyman—openly admires the West German’s automobile (by 1956, many West Germans drove Volkswagens).85 But the West German dismisses Greulich’s compliment by praising other, “unique” offerings of East Germany. The government’s intended message was clear: material possessions such as automobiles are insignificant when compared with the colossal Gymnastics and Sports Festivals. Greulich’s report implicitly dismisses another frequent deficiency about which East Germans complained: absence of individual freedom. The West German directly admits his preconceptions by stating that he always thought everything in the GDR happened according to an “order from above.” However, he was openly impressed by the freedoms enjoyed by East Germans who lovingly decorated their neighborhoods and streets according to individual style and who did not, after all, live in a state that drained its citizens of all individuality and initiative. The irony here is that the decoration of the streets and neighborhoods in Leipzig had in fact followed “orders from above.”86 Although essays such as that by Greulich conveyed the government and festival organizers’ hopes for a positive response to the festivals, the actual reactions of East German citizens were varied. Representatives of the SED in the city of Leipzig filed reports at the end of each

So war es, 67. As Jeffrey Kopstein notes, “East Germans prided themselves very little on living better than Bulgarians, Poles, or Hungarians.” See The Politics of Economic Decline in East Germany 1945–1989 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997), 4. 85 For insights on the significance of the automobile in East Germany, see Jonathan R. Zatlin, “The Vehicle of Desire: The Trabant, the Wartburg, and the End of the GDR,” German History 15, no. 3 (1997): 358–380. 86 SML-TSF-A, AOrgbDTSF II-1956, 4/1, “Ausgestaltung und Massenmobilisation: Drehbuch zur Ausgestaltung zentraler Strassen und Plätze.” 83 84

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festival day, noting successes as well as failures, assessing the mood of the participants and spectators, and detailing discussions they overhead at festival sites or in restaurants. These files are very rich sources for reconstructing popular reaction, as they are straightforward and full of specific detail.87 The SED files on the Gymnastics and Sports Festivals reveal that East German reactions reflected a mixture of pride in East German accomplishments, envy of the West, and frustration with their own government. SED reports revealed significant enthusiasm for the festival. Most residents of Leipzig cooperated in decorating their living quarters with flowers and flags; the reports praise several streets and neighborhoods by name. The reports highlighted how proud Leipzigers were of their new 100,000 seat Zentralstadion. While some residents of Leipzig had complained during construction that the city should devote money to building new apartments rather than a sports stadium, or should postpone the festival so that the stadium would not need to be built so quickly, once the festival began, East Germans expressed nothing but pride in their stadium. The files also emphasized the huge numbers of spectators from Leipzig who attended the festival’s main events, especially the estimated 250,000 to 300,000 people who watched the “Parade of Athletes” on Sunday morning. SED officials were particularly pleased by the many West Germans who attended the festival despite the ban on their participation in competitions. They believed that the presence of West Germans and their display of sympathy for the East helped East Germans view their own state more positively.88 West German conversations and remarks recorded in the files seem to corroborate the claims that E. Greulich made in his essay. Some expressed surprise at what they encountered in East Germany, which was not nearly as bad as they had expected. One man from West

Mark Allinson has demonstrated that the Party used these investigative fi les to gather information and deal with difficulties, not to prosecute citizens overheard complaining. See “Popular Opinion,” in The Workers’ and Peasants’ State, 96–99. The Ministerium für Staatssicherheit also collected information on the German Gymnastics and Sports festivals in the 1950s, though its efforts in later decades would be significantly more comprehensive. See Giselher Spitzer, Sicherungsvorgang Sport: Das Ministerium für Staatssicherheit und der DDR-Spitzensport (Schorndorf: Hofmann, 2005), 75–76. Spitzer provides an account of Stasi control of the 1977, 1983, and 1987 Gymnastics and Sports Festivals, 112–124. 88 SächsStAL, SED IV 15/01/527, “Bericht über das II. Deutsche Turn- und Sportfest,” 4 August 1956, 1, 2; SächsStAL, SED IV 15/01/527, “Einschätzung des II. Deutschen Turn- u. Sportfestes,” 8 August 1956, 2, 4. 87

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Germany said: “My wife will be mad at herself that she did not come with me. She convinced herself that there were no freedoms here and that we would encounter an avalanche of political materials. I myself have been astounded at how openly SED members talk with me and answer all of my questions.” Reports also mentioned how one West German youth had to go to the doctor but did not have sufficient money with him; he was “astonished” that this was not a problem. Some West Germans insisted that if Germany reunified, such social benefits of the East German state should be preserved. There were, of course, some West German complaints, particularly about unfriendly and slow service in state-owned stores. One SED report actually concedes that these critiques were helpful and that the GDR needed to improve public transportation and customer service before future festivals.89 Another theme contained in the SED files was official concern that neither organizers nor citizens properly understood the political significance of the festivals, including its work on behalf of German unity in a socialist state. In 1954, the SED criticized local functionaries for failing to impart to participants the political significance of the event.90 The 1956 reports similarly conveyed that the Organizational Bureau had hired festival supervisors with weak political qualifications. This was obvious from the fact that supervisors would encourage their charges to sightsee in Leipzig, but did not foster conversations with them about the political significance of the event. Some visitors complained that the political speeches at the opening ceremony at the Battle of the Nations Memorial were too long, a problem exacerbated by the bad loudspeakers that left thousands of spectators at the opening ceremony unable to hear the speeches.91 Food at the festivals was a major concern reflected in the files as well, particularly in 1954 and 1956 when rationing still prevailed in East Germany. In 1954, the Organizational Bureau worked to ensure adequate amounts of food, yet it still encountered problems, such as the rotten Wurst distributed at Elementary School 55. Investigations revealed that the bad Wurst was shipped in from Hamburg in West 89 SächsStAL, SED IV 15/01/527, “Bericht über das II. Deutsche Turn- und Sportfest,” 4 August 1956, 2–3; SächsStAL, SED IV 15/01/527, “Einschätzung des II. Deutschen Turn- u. Sportfestes,” 8 August 1956, 5. 90 SächsStAL, SED IV 2/16/691, “Bericht über die Vorbereitung und Durchführung des I. Deutschen Turn-und Sportfestes vom 18. bis 22. 8. 1954 in Leipzig,” 1–3. 91 SächsStAL, SED IV 15/01/527, “Einschätzung des II. Deutschen Turn- u. Sportfestes,” 8 August 1956, 6.

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Germany. Some West German guests, apparently influenced by media coverage and reports from family and friends, arrived in 1954 expecting insufficient food and supplies. One West German, who brought her own washing detergent to do laundry, proclaimed that West Germans had advised her to get quarters with a communist family or she would get no meat.92 To avoid the problems experienced in 1954, the planning committee in 1956 took extensive steps to provision both West and East German participants and guests. The planning committee spent many months coordinating food for festival participants and spectators, working to secure every possible food item, including meat, bread, milk, noodles, rice, cheese, cauliflower, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, lettuce, potatoes, marmalade, oil, sugar, mixed pickles, tea, coffee, chocolate, and butter.93 This was also typical of festivals in the Soviet Union, where organizers made plentiful food available to heighten the festive atmosphere at mass events.94 Many East German citizens were indeed aware of the plentiful food. Siegfried Müller, who trained children participating in the Sports Show in 1959 and thereafter, remembered that the food was “not only sufficient, but downright generous. And good.” Athletes got the “very best food,” he proclaimed.95 Lothar Finze, who lived far from Leipzig and never attended the festivals, learned through media and fellow citizens that there was supposed to be plentiful food at the Gymnastics and Sports Festivals and still remembered this fifty years later.96 Yet the SED files reveal that some East German citizens complained about the disparity between the conditions of everyday life and the conditions of the festival, a special event.97 In 1954, some workers complained that coffee and luxury foods were available, but would certainly 92 SächsStAL, SED IV 15/01/527, “1. Bericht zum 1. Deutschen Turn-und Sportfest in Leipzig,” 1; SächsStAL, SED IV 15/01/527, “2. Informationsbericht über das 1. Turn-und Sportfest,” 1. 93 SML-TSF-A, AOrgbDTSF II-1956, 3/3/2/27–28, “Zuweisungen und Abrechnungen der HO-Einsatzstelle für das II. Deutsche Turn- und Sportfest.” For more on the challenges the East German government faced in making a variety of desired food items available to its population, see Burghard Ciesla and Patrice G. Poutrus, “Food Supply in a Planned Economy: SED Nutrition Policy Between Crisis Response and Popular Needs,” in Dictatorship as Experience: Towards a Socio-Cultural History of the GDR, ed. Konrad Jarausch (New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 1999), 143–162. 94 Petrone, 17. 95 Müller, interview 96 Finze, interview. 97 Katherine Pence’s work on the Leipzig Trade Fairs of the 1950s similarly shows how the GDR’s efforts to showcase growing socialist prosperity often had the unintended

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disappear as soon as the festival was over.98 In 1956, one East German, speaking loudly in the “Roter Stern” restaurant, sarcastically remarked that East Germans finally had access to butter for one week in August only because there were West Germans at the festival, and not because the East German government had suddenly decided to fulfill the desires of its own citizens. Another common complaint was that “it is bad that we almost never receive butter, and yet the athletes are receiving abundant amounts of it.” The SED reports even noted that one citizen, a streetcar driver, showed a West German his dry bread and said that East Germans would have to strike again soon (referring to the 1953 uprising) because of the low standard of living. East German citizens also complained about the general wastefulness exhibited by festival organizers who gave West German athletes so much food that these athletes were forced to throw much of it away, including marmalade and cheese. One of the most embarrassing moments at the sports festival occurred after a local organizer, “Comrade Nitzschke,” informed a group of East German senior citizens that there was leftover food that they could claim at one of the festival’s food distribution stations. Approximately 150 senior citizens soon arrived and stood in line to receive the food. Unfortunately, West German visitors took photographs, and SED officials feared that these pictures would convince West Germans that East German socialism produced hunger and necessitated soup lines. According to the SED reports, local functionaries were extremely embarrassed.99 The SED’s attention to citizen comments about food reflected its awareness of the political significance of food—or lack thereof—in twentieth-century Germany. Butter had long been as integral to the German diet as potatoes and bread, and buttered bread the center of the working-class diet. Butter was not a luxury, but a crucial part of the everyday diet, and its absence was often the cause of public protests. In particular, the inability of the government to keep butter on the bread of Germans during World War One substantially undermined people’s

effect of drawing attention to the limitations in supply and quality of East German consumer products. See “ ‘A World in Miniature.’ ” 98 SächsStAL, SED IV 15/01/527, “2. Informationsbericht über das 1. Turn-und Sportfest,” 2. 99 SächsStAL, SED IV 15/01/527, “Stimmung der Bevölkerung zum II. Deutschen Turn- und Sportfest,” 2 August 1956, 1, 2; SächsStAL, SED IV 15/01/527, “Bericht über das II. Deutsche Turn- und Sportfest,” 4 August 1956, 2.

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faith in their government.100 Likewise, East German citizens in the 1950s expressed dissatisfaction with the failure of their government to provide them with butter and other food items.101 Shortages of butter and other staples were part of the dissatisfaction, particularly among women, that contributed to the citizen uprising on 17 June 1953.102 The SED files reveal that many East Germans also expressed frustration to West Germans about how hard they found their lives, suggesting that they believed that life in the West would be better. The East German government facilitated official discussions between East and West Germans in factories. An East German construction worker named Schaller told West Germans who visited his factory as part of one such official visit that he had to work for four months to buy a pair of shoes, and he imagined that life in West Germany was much better. East and West Germans came together in many informal settings, too, and sometimes East Germans complained about their lives. According to SED reports, these clear attempts to gain sympathy were usually met by insistence that life was not that much better in West Germany. When an East German eating in the HO Gaststätte Schlachthof told a West German guest that he planned to flee to West Berlin where he could earn more money, the West German answered that people in the West did not earn much money either and had little left after paying for necessities. According to the reports, some West Germans also told East Germans that East Germans did not appreciate the social benefits of their state.103 Even before the festivals, the organizers of the Sports Show and the Osttribüne faced logistical challenges, particularly regarding the recruitment of participants. In 1956 the Regional Committee for Physical

100 Belinda Davis, Home Fires Burning: Food, Politics, and Everyday Life in World War I Berlin (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000), 77–79. 101 Peter Hübner discusses citizen dissatisfaction with the planned economy’s inability to provide butter and other food items in Konsens, Konflikt und Kompromiss: Soziale Arbeiterinteressen und Sozialpolitik in der SBZ/DDR 1945–1970 (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1995), chapter 3. 102 Katherine Pence, “ ‘You as a Woman Will Understand’: Consumption, Gender and the Relationship between State and Citizenry in the GDR’s Crisis of 17 June 1953,” German History 19, no. 2 (2001): 227–229. 103 SächsStAL, SED IV 15/01/527, “Bericht über das II. Deutsche Turn- und Sportfest,” 4 August 1956, 2; SächsStAL, SED IV 15/01/527, “Stimmung der Bevölkerung zum II. Deutschen Turn- und Sportfest,” 2 August 1956, 1–2; SächsStAL, SED IV 15/01/527, “Einschätzung des II. Deutschen Turn- u. Sportfestes,” 8 August 1956, 4.

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Culture and Sports in Leipzig had to find 12,000 participants from the Leipzig region to participate in the Ostribüne. Organizers gave Leipzig’s county and city committees a quota, according to which each of Leipzig’s fourteen districts had to supply anywhere from 100 to 1000 participants. Each district assigned a quota to individual BSGs. For example, the committee requested that the third city district of Leipzig provide 130 Osttribüne volunteers, that BSG Chemie Ost provide twenty, and that the BSG Motor Paunsdorf provide ten.104 Thus, although the Osttribüne was ostensibly a voluntary activity, it—like the construction of the Zentralstadion—required quotas to ensure sufficient participation. Sports organizers in some counties and districts had no difficulties finding participants, but others struggled to recruit sufficient Osttribüne volunteers. This was a particular challenge in 1956, the debut of the Osttribüne. By the 8 July practice session in Leipzig, the county of Oschatz had only found 187 of a required 400 volunteers. Officials blamed this problem not on the population, but rather on local organizers.105 This was common in the GDR: the state assumed that all citizens had an inherent interest in state activities that organizers only needed to activate, and it was the failure of local organizers if this activation did not happen. Often, however, the failure was rooted not in a lack of interest on the part of citizens, nor in a lack of effort on the part of BSG leaders, but rather in the state’s conflicting priorities. On the one hand, the state selected the festivals as the cornerstone of its mass mobilization efforts and treated them as a ritual of state. On the other hand, the GDR was also committed to boosting work productivity in its factories and promoted sports in large part to achieve this goal. The two goals came into conflict when a citizen who wished to participate in the festival would need to miss work. This was a particular burden for the factories of Leipzig and environs because the entire Osttribüne came from Leipzig. Some enterprises refused to excuse their workers or to provide them with paid leave. In response, some festival participants, such as those from the Leipziger Wollkämmerei, asked to be paid by the festival’s Organizational Bureau as compensation for their lost

104 SächsStAL, SED IV 15/01/527, “Stand der Meldungen für die Übungen auf der Osttribüne während des 2. Deutschen Turn- und Sportfestes,” 27 June 1956. 105 SächsStAL, SED IV 15/01/069, “Protokoll über die Konferenz mit den Sportfunktionären am 8.6.56,” contributions from Genosse Panzer, Leipziger Wollkämmerei, and from Genossen Hakerkorn from the DHfK.

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paychecks. The generally favored solution at the time was for workers to take vacation leave for the six total days required of festival participants.106 The Leipziger Volkszeitung praised athletes from the BSG Motor Liebertwolkwitz who took annual vacation in order to participate in the festival.107 Organizers also encountered problems working with participants during the 1956 festival. Despite the lofty hopes of the organizers that participants would be perfectly disciplined and orderly and put the good of the collective above their individual interests, some participants did not take their responsibilities seriously. The behavior of students from the Institute for Physical Education in the city of Halle was so objectionable that a representative of the festival committee wrote to the director of the Institute reporting on the students’ “undisciplined behavior,” implying that the Institute failed to socialize its students properly. The letter criticized the students for their “arrogance” and “haughtiness,” particularly the “girls” (Mädels), who were upset about the requirement to stay in the group sleeping quarters and wanted to sleep someplace nicer. When officials refused their request, seven of the students declared themselves unable to participate in the Osttribüne due to illness. Other students reportedly did not show up on time for meetings and behaved in an undisciplined fashion during the march to the stadium. In addition, very few students from the Institute showed up at the opening ceremony at the Battle of the Nations Memorial. Moreover, during the final rehearsal for the Sports Show, twenty of the students left the rehearsal forty-five minutes early. The writer of the letter told the director of the Institute that “a portion of your students demonstrate individualistic opinions about the role of the personality and the concept of personal freedom.”108 The festival committee in 1956 was also unhappy with the youth representatives of the Free German Youth and the Society for Sports and Technology who presented

Ibid. SML-Dokumente, D 5002, “Gesamtappell des Verbandes der 12000 am 8. Juli,” Leipziger Volkszeitung, 6 June 1956. 108 SächsStAL, SED IV 15/01/527, “Das Verhalten und Auftreten Eurer Studenten im Verband der 12000 während des II. Deutschen Turn- und Sportfestes,” 8 August 1956. As Karen Petrone points out in her study of mass festivals in the Soviet Union, celebrations were often accompanied by “drunkenness and disorder.” Petrone, 12. The National Socialist “Strength through Joy” organization likewise demonstrated particular concern about the behavior of young and unmarried girls and women on its cruises and other programs. See Baranowski, 146–147, 180–181. 106 107

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a “bad picture” in the Parade of Athletes.109 The Free German Youth were “very undisciplined,” and the Society for Sports and Technology left behind a “very tired, careless, and undisciplined impression.”110 The letter to the Institute for Physical Education does not indicate what the students were doing instead of fulfilling their obligations to the Osttribüne. Likely, they were enjoying the company of their friends, the many festival cultural activities, or the sheer opportunity to be away from home and free from parental supervision for several days. What is clear is that these students did precisely what they were not supposed to do. They put their personal desires and interests ahead of a commitment to the collective, and they failed to display the discipline that they were expected to model to the entire East German population. The youth participants in the Parade of Athletes likewise failed to demonstrate appropriately disciplined behavior. Conclusion The 1959 German Gymnastics and Sports Festival was the last festival to highlight German tradition and unity. In 1961, the East German government built the Berlin Wall, and as of 1963, the year of the fourth festival, the government renamed the festivals the “German Gymnastics and Sports Festivals of the GDR,” thereby signaling their new role highlighting the strength of a fully separate and independent East Germany.111 Until the demise of the GDR, the Gymnastics and Sports Festivals remained the centerpieces of mass mobilization efforts and primary stages on which the state aimed to represent its socialist values to its citizens. Such special events were monumental in terms of the time and energy that the state devoted to them and the extent to which they lived on in popular memory even after the GDR no longer existed. The Gymnastics and Sports Festivals provided citizens with athletic and cultural opportunities. Like other mass events in the GDR, they

109 BAB, DR 5 191, Vorlage 13/2/56, “Auswertung des II. Deutschen Turn- und Sportfestes vom 2. bis 5. August 1956 in Leipzig,” 20. 110 SächsStAL, SED IV 15/01/527, “Einschätzung des II. Deutschen Turn- u. Sportfestes,” 8 August 1956, 3. 111 For a general overview of all of the GDR’s Gymnastics and Sports Festivals, see Thomas Weber, “Sportfesttradition in Leipzig,” in Alltagssport in der DDR, ed. Jochen Hinsching (Aachen: Meyer und Meyer, 1998), 112–134.

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showcased the best that East Germany could offer. Yet the festivals also highlighted—albeit unintentionally—the challenges the government encountered in securing the cooperation of the population. Chief among these challenges was the East German state’s failure to offer its citizens plentiful consumer goods, especially food, on a day-to-day basis. Political scientist Jeffrey Kopstein writes that despite East German efforts to create a civic culture—a project of which the Gymnastics and Sports Festivals were a part—“the basis of political stability remained clearly material.”112 Despite state efforts to address the problems surrounding consumption, the East/West gap persisted over the years and became a significant destabilizing force.113 The sports festivals also highlighted the inability of the government to ensure the total cooperation of its many citizens, particularly its youth. These challenges foreshadowed problems that grew in the 1960s and beyond, when the government was particularly concerned with what it believed to be the weak commitment of youth to socialist values and their over attraction to western culture.114 In the end, the Gymnastics and Sports Festivals, no matter how colorful or extravagant, could not fully compensate for the problems that plagued East Germany on a daily basis. They were indeed the “embodiment of the socialist state,” demonstrating lofty goals and the challenges involved in meeting those goals. Kopstein, 5. In addition to Kopstein, Katherine Pence and Jonathan Zatlin cited above, recent scholars who have addressed the relationship between consumption and political legitimacy include: Eli Rubin, “The Order of Substitutes: Plastic Consumer Goods in the Volkswirtschaft and Everyday Domestic Life in the GDR,” in Consuming Germany in the Cold War, 87–119; Philipp Heldmann, Herrschaft, Wirtschaft, Anoraks. Konsumpolitik in der DDR der sechsziger Jahre (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2004); Mark Landsmann, Dictatorship and Demand: The Politics of Consumerism in East Germany (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005); and Judd Stitziel, Fashioning Socialism: Clothing, Politics, and Consumer Culture in East Germany (Oxford and New York: Berg, 2005). 114 As Mark Fenemore points out, the state increasingly came to see youth as “dangerous ‘enemies within.’ ” See “The Limits of Repression and Reform: Youth Policy in the Early 1960s,” in The Workers’ and Peasants’ State, 172. Dorothee Wierling’s oral history interview research also illuminates the government’s concern about youth behavior and the generational conflicts that emerged in the GDR in the 1960s. See Dorothee Wierling, “Die Jugend als innerer Feind. Konflikte in der Erziehungsdiktatur der sechziger Jahre,” in Sozialgeschichte der DDR, ed. Hartmut Kaelble, Jürgen Kocka and Hartmut Zwahr (Stuttgart: Klett Cotta, 1994), 404–425. She elaborates on these points in Geboren im Jahr Eins: Der Jahrgang 1949 in der DDR—Versuch einer Kollektivbiographie (Berlin: Christoph Links Verlag, 2002). Alan McDougall explores the challenges encountered by the Free German Youth in implementing the government’s youth policies in Youth Politics in East Germany: The Free German Youth Movement, 1946–1968 (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2004). 112 113

CHAPTER FIVE

SOCIALIST SPECTATORSHIP: THE FRIEDENSFAHRT AND CHAMPION TÄVE SCHUR In 1948 Czechoslovakia and Poland launched the Friedensfahrt (Ride of Peace), a long-distance cycling competition that took cyclists from Warsaw to Prague.1 In 1952 East Berlin joined Warsaw and Prague as an anchor city. The race took place for approximately two weeks every May, with the number of stages varying somewhat from year to year. The official goals of the Friedensfahrt included promoting peace and international understanding. The dove—symbol of peace—was a fixture on both the yellow jersey worn by the individual leader and the blue jerseys worn by the leading team. The cycling teams were amateur and represented individual nations, in contrast to the multinational, corporate-sponsored teams that participated in other international cycling competitions such as the Tour de France.2 The Friedensfahrt became a mass phenomenon in East Germany in the 1950s. Whereas people had to travel to Leipzig to experience the Gymnastics and Sports Festivals in person, the Friedensfahrt reached citizens directly. Each May, as more than one hundred cyclists from all around the world rode across East Germany, thousands of East German citizens turned out to cheer them as they passed by. An East German team first won this competition in 1953, gaining for East Germany its first major international athletic success. Two years later, Gustav-Adolf “Täve” Schur became the GDR’s first athletic hero with his individual Friedensfahrt victory, a feat that he repeated in 1959. Schur was indisputably the most celebrated athlete in the GDR in the 1950s. The government cultivated him as a socialist role model, and fans embraced him, sending him thousands of fan letters. Schur’s popularity persisted even a decade after the demise of the GDR as

1 Parts of this chapter were originally published as “The Friedensfahrt: International Sports and East German Socialism in the 1950s,” International History Review XXIX, vol. 1 (March 2007): 57–82. 2 Stiftung Archiv der Parteien und Massenorganisation im Bundesarchiv (hereafter SAPMO-BArch), DY 12 491, “Program IX Friedensfahrt,” Bl. 130. The Friedensfahrt cycling tour last took place in 2006; it was funded by private sponsors.

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a state. Due largely to the votes of former East German citizens, he served in the Parliament of the united Germany from 1998 until 2002 as a representative of the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS), the successor to the GDR’s SED Party. The Friedensfahrt reflected the dual strategy pursued by East Germany in the 1950s. On the one hand, leaders emphasized the GDR as the embodiment of the best of German traditions and called for German reunification in a socialist state. On the other hand, leaders simultaneously worked to achieve diplomatic recognition and attain international respect for East Germany’s status as an autonomous state. Sports culture reflected this duality. East Germany planned the Gymnastics and Sports Festivals as “German” festivals and invited West German guests. At the same time, it worked to gain recognition from international sports federations for East German athletes and teams—dubbing its athletes “Diplomats in Track Suits” (Diplomaten im Trainingsanzug)3—and it seized upon international sports competitions in which East Germans excelled, chief among them the Friedensfahrt, as a way to cultivate in its citizens a specifically East German, as opposed to German, patriotism.4 The Friedensfahrt emerged as a hugely popular and successful mass mobilization event in the 1950s. SED leaders’ success in using the Friedensfahrt to elicit patriotism and to encourage active participation was due not only to the careful orchestration of state mobilization campaigns, but also to the genuine resonance that the Friedensfahrt cycling tour, East Germany’s successes, and the Täve Schur phenomenon found with the 3 Gunter Holzweissig, Diplomatie im Trainingsanzug: Sport als politisches Instrument der DDR in den innerdeutschen und internationalen Beziehungen (Munich and Vienna: Oldenbourg, 1981); Andrew Strenk, “Diplomats in Track Suits: The Role of Sports in the Foreign Policy of the German Democratic Republic,” Journal of Sports and Social Issues 4, no. 1 (1980): 34–45. 4 Reflecting the government’s dual discourse and the extent to which German identity remained fluid for so many citizens in the 1950s, some of the same citizens who celebrated the Friedensfahrt also celebrated the victory of the West German soccer team in the 1954 World Cup Championship. Several interviewees for this project described listening to the 1954 World Cup finals on the radio and celebrating the “German” victory. See Manfred Jentzsch, Horst Heck, and Siegfried Rössner, interview by Molly Wilkinson Johnson (hereafter author), Wittenberg, Germany, 17 May 2005; Wilfried Gärtner, interview by author, Wittenberg, Germany, 2 July 2004; and Heinz Rühlicke, interview by author, Annaburg, Germany, 5 May 2005. Peter Hähnel remembered that he read a book written by Fritz Walter, the West German team captain, three times. He received the book as a gift from his brother. Peter Hähnel, interview by author, Chemnitz, Germany, 10 July 2004. For further insights on the reception of the 1954 World Cup in East Germany, see Christian Becker and Wolfgang Buss, “Das ‘Wunder von Bern’ und die DDR,” Deutschland Archiv 37, no. 3 (2004): 389–399.

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population in the 1950s. In this sense, then, the Friedensfahrt and Täve Schur foreshadowed East Germany’s later pursuit of Olympic gold, its most successful international initiative. The FRIEDENSFAHRT and East Germany’s Search for International and Domestic Legitimacy Many former East German citizens have enthusiastic memories of the Friedensfahrt. Some, including volleyball and table tennis player Richard Dietzsch, soccer player Dieter Stellmacher, and track athlete Wilfried Gärtner, remembered the ideological framework of the race, chiefly the implied recognition of East Germany as a nation of peace, cooperating together with its former wartime victims and new socialist sisters Poland and Czechoslovakia.5 Yet Dietzsch, Stellmacher, Gärtner, and other citizens primarily emphasized the excitement surrounding the event. Gärtner described the event as “superb for us” and “an absolute highlight.” Soccer player Horst Heck proclaimed that he had “only the best” memories of the event, and his teammate Manfred Jentzsch described the “amazing excitement.”6 Field hockey player Karl-Heinz Bennewitz emphasized that the Friedensfahrt was the main topic of daily conversation, whether at school, work, or while drinking beer in the evenings.7 Several also tied the Friedensfahrt to the broader status of East Germany as a state. Stellmacher explained that the cyclists rode as an East German national team, and not as representatives of multinational firms, thus strengthening East German collective identification with the state’s cycling team.8 Rower Horst Evers emphasized that Germany was a “zero” internationally in the 1950s, receiving little or no recognition, and that the Friedensfahrt was the first big athletic event in which East German athletes performed well, demonstrating that “we are somebody after all.”9

5 Richard Dietzsch, interview by author, Crimmitschau, Germany, 3 July 2004; Dieter Stellmacher, interview by author, Göttingen, Germany, 26 May 2005; Gärtner, interview. 6 Gärtner, interview; Jentzsch, Heck, and Rössner, interview. 7 Karl-Heinz Bennewitz and Helga Bennewitz, interview by author, Leipzig, Germany, 18 May 2005. 8 Stellmacher, interview. 9 Horst Evers and Gisela Evers, interview by author, 28 May 2005.

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The East German government quickly recognized public excitement over the Friedensfahrt, particularly following the team victory in 1953. An unpublished—and hence not propagandistic—report submitted to the State Committee for Physical Culture and Sports when the East German Friedensfahrt team first won the event in 1953 stated that “Almost the entire population of the German Democratic Republic was under the spell of the great Friedensfahrt and the patriotic fight of the GDR’s team.”10 Such pride in international athletic success was hardly new for Germans. In the 1920s, competitions between German teams and individual athletes and those from other countries had elicited widespread interest, aided by the many newspapers and magazines devoted to sports. The new technology of radio helped foster a community of sports spectators; when the famous boxer Max Schmeling competed in the world heavyweight championship in New York in 1932, countless German families stayed awake until 3:00 a.m. to hear the results on the radio.11 Germans also took great pride in Germany’s performance in the 1936 Olympic Games, where it won the most gold medals.12 The 1953 Friedensfahrt team victory was the first time, however, that a separate East German team, as opposed to a unified German team, won a major sports event. As the report submitted to the State Committee continued, “Such a phenomenon had not yet been experienced by the citizens of the GDR . . . Everybody spoke of our team, of the team of the German Democratic Republic.” Finally, the report emphasized that the Friedensfahrt victory resonated for many citizens—“regardless of whatever background or worldview [they] had”—and not just for those citizens who were politically inclined to support the GDR.13 As journalist Grit Hartmann notes, the 1953 team victory in the Friedensfahrt and the outpouring of popular support demonstrated to the SED that “international athletic victories integrate better than . . . Party conferences.”14 Of course, just weeks after the East German team vic-

10 Bundesarchiv Berlin (hereafter BAB), DR 5 72, “Abschlussbericht über die Vorbereitung und Durchführung der Internationalen Radfernfahrt 1953,” 11 September 1953. 11 Erik Jensen, “Crowd Control: Boxing Spectatorship and Social Order in Weimar Germany,” in Histories of Leisure, ed. Rudy Koshar (Oxford and New York: Berg, 2002), 83. 12 See Richard Mandell, The Nazi Olympics, 2nd ed. (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1987). 13 BAB, DR 5 72, “Abschlussbericht.” 14 Grit Hartmann, Goldkinder: Die DDR im Spiegel ihres Spitzensportes (Leipzig: Forum Verlag, 1997), 23.

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tory, workers on the Stalinallee in East Berlin laid down their tools in the first step of what would become the nationwide political uprising of 17 June 1953. Sports victories alone certainly could not compensate for citizens’ broader everyday frustrations with the demands of “building socialism.” Yet, the uprising of 1953 was the last major uprising until 1989, and East Germany soon became the most stable government in the Eastern bloc.15 The Friedensfahrt and East Germany’s later Olympic successes became one of the primary positive sources of enthusiasm and pride for East German citizens during these years. The East German government also recognized that successes in athletic competitions such as the Friedensfahrt helped boost East Germany’s standing internationally. This desire for international recognition stemmed from Germany’s division after 1949. The existence of two separate German states caused problems not only in international diplomatic settings but also in the arena of international sports. Should international sports federations accept one common German team, just the West German team, or both the West and East German teams? West Germany wanted to deny East German teams international recognition, claiming that West Germany was the only legitimate German state. In 1955, West Germany introduced what soon became known as the Hallstein Doctrine, through which it threatened to cut off all diplomatic relations with countries that recognized East Germany as a state.16 Yet East Germany wanted full recognition of its status as a state, and one of its goals in promoting its international sports teams was to gain international recognition through sports that it failed to achieve through diplomatic channels.17 It was thus highly significant

15 Andrew I. Port explores both the 1953 uprising and the general stability that defined the GDR from 1953 until 1989 in his analysis of industrial and agricultural workers in Saalfeld, in Conflict and Stability in the German Democratic Republic (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007). 16 See William Glenn Gray, Germany’s Cold War: The Global Campaign to Isolate East Germany, 1949–1969 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003), especially 30–55. According to Gray, the Federal Republic “sought to micromanage the behavior of other governments toward the GDR . . .,” in particularly focusing its attentions on the allegiances of non-aligned countries. (3) 17 See Strenk, “Diplomats,” and Martin H. Geyer, “Der Kampf um nationale Repräsentation. Deutsch-deutsche Sportbeziehungen und die ‘Hallstein-Doktrin,’ ” Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte 44 (1996): 55–86. For an overview of German-German relations through sports, see Uta Andrea Balbier, Kalter Krieg auf der Aschenbahn: der deutsch-deutsche Sport 1950 –72. Eine politische Geschichte (Paderborn: Schöningh, 2007). The essays in Jutta Braun and Hans Joachim Teichler, eds., Sportstadt Berlin im Kalten Krieg: Prestigekämpfe und Systemwettstreit (Berlin: Christoph Links, 2006) focus on divided Berlin as a site for German-German sports conflicts.

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when another country invited East German athletes to compete as East Germans, as that country implicitly offered East Germany de facto recognition as a state.18 Controversies at the level of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) make most clear the broader diplomatic significance of debates about the status of German athletes. The modern Olympics require all participating athletes to compete on behalf of a nation. Thus, the conflict over whether the IOC would allow East Germany to sponsor a team became controversial. Should West Germany and East Germany compete as separate teams or as a joint team? Should East Germany, an illegitimate state in the eyes of most of the world, compete at all? In 1956, 1960, and 1964 the IOC required the two Germanies to compete together as one Olympic team. Qualifying matches several months before the Olympics began selected a team consisting of the best East and West German athletes in each sport. However, controversy persisted. Which national anthem and which flag would accompany medal ceremonies? The solution, satisfactory to neither country, was for West and East German athletes to compete under the tricolor German flag stamped with the Olympic rings. They used the final movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony as their national anthem. In 1968, the IOC permitted East Germany to send its own Olympic team, but required both German teams to compete, once again, under the same flag and with the same national anthem. East Germany’s athletes finally competed as a fully autonomous team with their own flag and anthem at the 1972 Olympic Games.19 East Germany’s desire to participate in international athletic events stemmed not only from its desire for basic de facto diplomatic recognition, but also from its ambition to gain access to a venue at which East Germany could prove its strength as a state. The objective and universal nature of sports is the key to their usefulness in fostering national

Strenk, 36. A brief summary of the controversy can be found in: Allen Guttmann, The Olympics: A History of the Modern Games (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1992), 94–96; Hartmann, 38–58; Balbier, 74–87; and Strenk, “Diplomats.” See also Heather L. Dichter, “International Sport and Divided Germany: The Problem of the All-German Olympic Team, 1952–1964” (Master’s Thesis, University of North Carolina, 2002). For an analysis of the proposal that East Germany and West Germany co-host the 1968 Olympic Games in divided Berlin, see Noel Cary, “Olympics in Divided Berlin? Popular Culture and Political Imagination at the Cold War Frontier” (work in progress). 18

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comparisons in the international arena. As Barbara Keys argues, sports competitions seem “to offer a uniquely objective and quantifiable means to compare national strength” because they offer an “unambiguous numerical outcome in the form of points, times, or distances.”20 That sports foster such easy comparisons goes far to explain the twentiethcentury appeal of competitions such as the Olympics. Nations come together in international competitions to demonstrate their national strength and their superiority over other nations.21 For East Germany, participation in international athletic competitions was not merely a matter of sports, but also a matter of state. Against this backdrop, the Friedensfahrt occupied a particularly fortuitous position. Recognized in 1953 by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the international body that oversees cycling, the Friedensfahrt was one of the first events in which East Germans were permitted to compete as East Germans. That the GDR served as co-host of the UCI-sanctioned event further enhanced the legitimacy such recognition provided.22 By 1956, the ninth Friedensfahrt, teams from twenty-four countries participated, including not only socialist bloc nations but also England, Austria, Belgium, Italy, France, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Luxembourg, Holland, Switzerland, and even a team from West Germany.23 As the report to the State Committee for Physical Culture and Sports revealed, the Friedensfahrt also had strong domestic resonance. The Friedensfahrt thus provided the East German government with an early opportunity to showcase its achievements internationally while also generating enthusiasm among its own citizens. Participatory Spectatorship and Mass Mobilization The Friedensfahrt presented a particularly promising mass mobilization opportunity to the East German government. By featuring a route that moved from town to town on the soil of three countries, the Friedensfahrt 20 Barbara J. Keys, Globalizing Sport: National Rivalry and International Community in the 1930s (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006), 4. 21 Ibid., 189. 22 SAPMO-BArch, DY 12 3900, “Gesamtauswertung der VII. Internationalen Friedensfahrt, 1954.” 23 Sportmuseum Leipzig (hereafter SML), “Startliste zur IX. Radfernfahrt für den Frieden,” in IX. Internationale Radfernfahrt für den Frieden, Etappenziel: Leipzig, Bruno-PlacheStadion. The library collection of the Sportmuseum Leipzig holds many of the short programs published and sold in conjunction with the Friedensfahrt.

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helped foster a collective public of spectators around the same athletic event. This effect was particularly powerful in the 1950s, before the introduction of televised sports. The Friedensfahrt was not a distant world championship or Olympic championship held a continent away, but rather an event on East German soil. Furthermore, the event involved not only the capital city of Berlin and large cities such as Leipzig and Dresden, but also countless villages and small towns along the route. The government hoped to engage direct participation in as many aspects of the Friedensfahrt as possible. This was in part an ideological rejection of capitalist forms of passive spectatorship that viewed sports and athletes as commodities,24 and an embrace of a socialist form of spectatorship based on active participation. As historian Robert Edelman writes of the Soviet Union, “Healthy participation was deemed . . . to be preferable to slothful watching.” According to Edelman, “watching sports in the USSR was not supposed to be an end in itself, a pleasurable way of passing time. Rather, its clearly didactic goal was to improve the health and efficiency of the nation.”25 The East German government, similarly, saw sports spectatorship not as a private leisure activity, but as part of workers’ public identities and responsibilities. Reflecting this sentiment, it encouraged its population to engage in sports spectatorship in the context of formal communities, whether the enterprise, the school classroom, or the neighborhood. Government efforts to cultivate a “participatory spectatorship” took two forms. First, the government encouraged as many citizens as possible to turn out along the route to greet the cyclists as they rode by. Second, the government created corollary activities over a period of two or more weeks that took place in conjunction with the Friedensfahrt; these activities enabled the mass mobilization potential of the event to stretch beyond the ten minutes when the cyclists rode by. A constant theme in media coverage of the Friedensfahrt was the number of people who watched the race. Newspapers and official Friedensfahrt programs celebrated the outpouring of crowds. One program for the 1956 Friedensfahrt emphasized that the “walls of people along the route”

Jensen, 88. Robert Edelman, Serious Fun: A History of Spectator Sports in the USSR (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 6. See also Mike O’Mahony, Sport in the USSR: Physical Culture —Visual Culture (London: Reaktion Books, 2006), 60–62. 24 25

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grew larger and larger each year.26 Another program declared, “Millions of people stand during these days along the roads in the People’s Republic of Poland, in the German Democratic Republic, and in the Czechoslovakian Republic. From person to person, from place to place, from country to country, the increasingly powerful outcry spreads: ‘they are coming, they are coming!’”27 Furthermore, an organizational plan for the 1959 Friedensfahrt noted that “in 1959, as in every year, millions of enthusiastic people in the German Democratic Republic, in the Czechoslovakian Republic, and in the People’s Republic of Poland will cheer for the ‘giants of the roads.’ . . . In this way, the Friedensfahrt has become a great mass-political event.”28 What was most significant to government leaders about the “millions of enthusiastic people” and the “walls of people” was that they facilitated what anthropologist Susan Brownell describes as “shared locales.” Rather than waiting for citizens to experience major athletic events such as the Friedensfahrt privately—by reading newspapers or listening to the radio at home—GDR leaders wanted to bring citizens together to experience the Friedensfahrt collectively. As Brownell writes in her study of sports in communist China, media alone cannot create public culture. Rather, the “sharing of a locale” is crucial. She notes that the mass media helped to create a national consciousness around Chinese athletic victories, but that “this consciousness would not have been nearly as intimate and emotional if people were not watching the games together, celebrating in the streets, personally welcoming the returning victors, writing letters to newspaper editors, and attending congratulatory ceremonies.”29 In their efforts to created “shared locales,” Friedensfahrt promoters did not simply rely on the press or on spontaneous displays of citizen excitement. Rather, they took steps to coordinate carefully the “walls of people” along the Friedensfahrt route. In this way, active support of the Friedensfahrt resembled participation in a voluntary work action. Both activities involved a complex mix of individual enthusiasm and 26 SML, IX. Internationale Radfernfahrt für den Frieden, Etappenziel: Leipzig, Bruno-Plache Stadion. 27 SAPMO-BArch, DY 12 491, “Programm, IX. Friedensfahrt,” Bl. 130. 28 Sportmuseum Leipzig-Dokumente (hereafter SML-Dokumente), D 969, “Organisationsplan zur Vorbereitung und Durchführung der XII. Internationalen Radfernfahrt für den Frieden Berlin-Prag-Warschau, Bezirk Leipzig.” 29 Susan Brownell, Training the Body for China: Sports in the Moral Order of the People’s Republic (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1995), 92–93.

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centralized state coordination. Grit Hartmann aptly described popular participation in such initiatives as “organized spontaneity.”30 Reflecting the state organization behind the event, the Ministry for State Security began in 1953 what would become annual surveillance efforts at the Friedensfahrt. The surveillance was ostensibly intended to “prevent saboteurs and provocateurs from throwing nails or other objects dangerous to tires” onto the route, yet most certainly involved other types of oversight as well.31 School children played a central role in the state’s plans to orchestrate “walls of people.” The government often cancelled school to enable children to turn out along the race route. In 1959, Leipzig schools organized a hiking day for the morning when the cyclists would depart Leipzig. Over 100,000 children lined the route and bade farewell to the cyclists.32 The government—and its representatives in charge of the enterprises—also called on workers to participate. The VEB Gaswerkes Joliet-Curie in Dresden stated in its Friedensfahrt plan, “Every member of the enterprise who is not working in production at the time that the Friedensfahrt cyclists arrive should show up along the route to greet the cyclists.”33 The government also directed enterprises and schools to develop Friedensfahrt bulletin boards and to allow workers and students to listen to the end of each day’s race on the radio. VEB Gaswerkes Joliet-Curie created a Friedensfahrt showcase at the entry of the factory that presented information about the race, and it also provided live reports during working hours.34 Likewise, the Ernst Schneller Schule in Dresden built a showcase at the entrance to the school that featured artwork, photographs, and essays honoring the Friedensfahrt and also created class bulletin boards where students updated the standings each morning.35 The government also placed loudspeakers in public places that broadcast the race. Field hockey player Helga Bennewitz remembers loudspeakers stationed around the city of Leipzig where

Hartmann, 22. Giselher Spitzer, Sicherungsvorgang Sport: Das Ministerium für Staatssicherheit und der DDR-Spitzensport (Schorndorf: Hofmann, 2005), 75. 32 SML-Dokumente, D 969, “Organisationsplan zur Vorbereitung und Durchführung der XII. Internationalen Radfernfahrt für den Frieden Berlin-Prag-Warschau, Bezirk Leipzig.” 33 Ibid. 34 SAPMO-BArch, DY 12 474, “Abschrift, Verpflichtungs-Erklärung,” Bl. 51. 35 SAPMO-BArch, DY 12 474, “Abschrift Ernst Schneller Schule, Arbeitsplan zur Popularisierung der VIII. Internationalen Friedensfahrt,” Bl. 12. 30

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people could stand and listen together.36 Bulletin boards and public radio broadcasts enabled the “shared locale” to extend beyond the sidelines of the route and to include all workers and school children. The government also orchestrated elaborate opening and closing festivities in large stadiums for each stage of the Friedensfahrt on East German soil.37 Citizens could purchase or win tickets to the ceremonies. In Leipzig, every child who sold twenty-five Friedensfahrt postcards received free admission to the ceremonial arrival of the cyclists in the Zentralstadion.38 Opening and closing ceremonies linked the Friedensfahrt to past and future events, all of which were part of the collective drive to build and promote socialism. The inclusion of a gymnastics display into arrival ceremonies at the Leipzig Zentralstadion in 1959 illustrates this phenomenon. According to the official program, sports organizers included the gymnastics performance in order to give the crowd a “taste of what hundreds of thousands will experience at the Third German Gymnastics and Sports Festival in August.”39 It was hoped that fans’ interest in the Friedensfahrt would shape their interest in the future event, thus ensuring their continued mobilization. Organizers incorporated the Friedensfahrt into political events as well. On 8 May, the anniversary of the German capitulation in World War Two, SED leaders organized events in conjunction with the Friedensfahrt to commemorate the end of the war and to honor the victorious Soviet Army.40 Furthermore, political leaders often incorporated the start of the Friedensfahrt into celebrations of 1 May, International Workers’ Day. Countless citizens expressed enthusiasm for the Friedensfahrt, despite its heavy-handed staging. Field hockey players Helga and Karl-Heinz Bennewitz acknowledged that the Friedensfahrt was “steered” by the government but emphasized that there was “genuine excitement.”41 Some citizens remembered going to the route with fellow students or

Bennewitz and Bennewitz, interview. For a brief discussion of East Berlin as a Friedensfahrt stage host city, see Ronald Huster, “Duell an der Spree—Radsport im geteilten Berlin,” in Sportstadt Berlin im Kalten Krieg, 293–297. 38 SML-Dokumente, D 969, “Organisationsplan zur Vorbereitung und Durchführung der XII. Internationalen Radfernfahrt für den Frieden Berlin-Prag-Warschau, Bezirk Leipzig.” 39 SML, “Zum Fussball-Städtekampf: Leipzig-Berlin,” in Programm für den 4. Mai 1959, Etappenort Leipzig. 40 SAPMO-BArch, DY 12 498, “Agitationsplan, Berlin,” Bl. 165; BAB, DR 5 49, “Richtlinien für den Massensport im Sommer 1953.” 41 Bennewitz and Bennewitz, interview. 36 37

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apprentices in response to state encouragement. Gymnast Siegfried Müller from Wittenberg recalled going with his fellow apprentices because school was cancelled that day, and cyclist Günther Deckert and Horst Heck also remembered that schools and enterprises closed to allow students and employees to go to the route. Deckert, in fact, said that it was “required” for school children to go, although he recalled that nobody ever complained about this.42 Many school children who went to the route as an obligatory exercise also found the Friedensfahrt tremendously exciting. On 23 May 1955 thirteen-year-old seventh grader Helga wrote a personal letter to Täve Schur. She described how she and her classmates had tested their bicycles and decorated them in preparation for their journey to nearby Wittenberg to watch the Friedensfahrt cyclists ride by. On the big day, the students set out at 7:30 a.m. in the rain and cycled 30 kilometers to Wittenberg. Although this would be nothing for a cyclist like Schur, she stressed that this was a great distance for her and her friends. Helga also emphasized “the great masses of people” along the route and claimed that nobody could stand still as the cyclists approached. She was particularly excited that Schur rode on the right side of the road as that gave her a better view. She and her friend screamed his name, and she remembered “It was quite an experience!”43 The excitement that young Helga felt was echoed in the memories of other former citizens of the GDR, who went to the route not with fellow workers or school mates, but rather independently, with their families, or with their neighborhood friends. The majority of these citizens, like Helga and her friends, rode their own bicycles to the route. Wilfried Gärtner remembered biking with his friends from his small village to the route, and Lothar and Christa Finze rode to the city of Halle to watch the race. Richard Dietzsch also cycled to the route, usually seven to eight kilometers away; he and his friends found a hill there that gave them a good view of the race. He remembered that one year it was cold and rainy and yet the streets were “thick with

42 Siegfried Müller, interview by author, Wittenberg, Germany, 19 May 2005; Gunter Deckert, interview by author, Wittenberg, Germany, 18 May, 2005; Jentzsch, Heck, and Rössner, interview. 43 The letter can be found at the Radsportmuseum Course de la Paix, Nachlass Gustav-Adolf Schur.

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people.” Dieter Stellmacher also biked with friends to an elevated area near the route where he could watch.44 These memories of sharing the excitement of the Friedensfahrt with friends reflected the same camaraderie so many interviewees emphasized when describing how they practiced, competed, traveled, and relaxed with their BSG teammates. In the case of the Friedensfahrt, the East German government actively promoted such camaraderie by encouraging its citizens to experience the event collectively. Whereas in daily life, the sociability fostered by sports often confined itself to a small collective such as the BSG, the Friedensfahrt, a single event crossing much of East Germany and often dominated by an East German team, brought multiple small groups of citizens together around a common, national event. The Friedensfahrt thus illustrates how the spirit of camaraderie, often experienced apart from any sense of identification with the East German state, could under certain circumstances coexist with and even reinforce a sense of collective cohesion on a national scale. Many former citizens of the GDR remembered not only the excitement of the actual Friedensfahrt race, but also the general spectacle surrounding it. Gisela Evers emphasized that it was remarkable to see so many new bicycles during the race because nobody had a new bicycle in the 1950s.45 Siegfried Müller also appreciated the spectacle, and particularly how bright and colorful everything was, though he expressed disappointment that the cyclists always passed by so quickly.46 Peter Hähnel enjoyed seeing the foreign objects such as cars and clothing not normally seen in East Germany. He also mentioned that the police vehicles that accompanied the cyclists created a “flair.”47 Manfred Jentzsch remembers that, because there was no television at that time, the Friedenfahrt was particularly exciting; he also noted how the press went to great lengths to make the event seem as appealing as possible.48 Clearly, despite the East German government’s willingness to use its monopoly over schools, media, and enterprises to encourage participation, and despite some citizens’ awareness of this politicization, the government hardly had to force citizens to the Friedensfahrt route. Many

44 Gärtner, interview; Lothar Finze and Christa Finze, interview by author, Köthen, Germany, 10 July 2004; Dietzsch, interview; Stellmacher, interview. 45 Evers and Evers, interview. 46 Müller, interview. 47 Hähnel, interview. 48 Jentzsch, Heck, and Rössner, interview.

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were driven by their own enthusiasm and headed to the route with friends, independent of any state orchestration. Also, many who turned out with their school class or work brigade had a positive experience as spectators, despite the obligatory nature. Thus, the “walls of people” along the Friedensfahrt route were the result of a combination of state orchestration, grassroots enthusiasm, and individual curiosity. In addition to encouraging citizens to line the route, the East German government also structured a number of corollary activities in enterprises, schools, and communities, which were designed to extend the “shared” experience of the Friedensfahrt far beyond the few minutes when the cyclists rode past. These corollary activities included nonathletic activities, such as enterprise workers making prizes for cyclists and school children writing essays about the event, and athletic activities, such as competitive and non-competitive cycling events for children, teens, and adults. The GDR expected these corollary activities to build on the popularity of the Friedensfahrt, to mobilize citizens for further involvement in state-sponsored activities, and to enhance their collective feeling of sharing an exciting experience with other East Germans. As the BAV Sports Medal and the BSG sports structure reveal, government leaders and sports scholars believed that athletic participation strengthened the productivity of their workers; sports and work functioned hand-in-hand. Similarly, leaders believed that encouraging workers to support the Friedensfahrt together with other members of their work collective would translate into deeper commitment to their work, to their collective, and to their country, resulting in improved work productivity. Each year, the central Organizational Bureau for the Friedensfahrt and the bureaus in the cities that hosted each stage published detailed guidelines for how enterprises throughout the GDR could actively participate in the Friedensfahrt, emphasizing in particular the creation and donation of honorary prizes as a “sign of deep solidarity with the cyclists.”49 Many enterprises responded to the request. In 1955 the enterprises in the district of Cottbus produced 176 prizes. The VEB Glaswerk Annahütte donated a lead crystal cup, the VEB Schrott Cottbus donated a flower vase, and the VEB Trikotagenwerk

SAPMO-BArch, DY 12 492, Letter from Zentralen Organisationsbüro der VIII. Internationalen Friedensfahrt 1955 to “Werte Kollegen!” Bl. 92. A sample plan of the overall responsibilities of the enterprises can be found in SAPMO-BArch, DY 12 499, “Die Gewerkschaften unterstützen die VII. Internationale Radfernfahrt,” Bl. 3–5. 49

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Lübben Spree donated a doll.50 Collective farms also donated prizes. The members of the LPG ‘Florian Geyer’ Aschersleben donated a piglet as a prize for the 1955 Friedensfahrt.51 The enterprises and collective farms that made honorary prizes always received official letters from the Organizational Bureau, written or typed on Friedensfahrt stationary, to thank them for their donations.52 Producing honorary prizes was thus similar in spirit to performing a voluntary work action. The state exercised its monopoly over education and employment to cultivate obligatory participation among the population, yet by thanking citizens for their contributions, it ensured that this participation retained an aura of voluntarism and willing participation. The prizes were awarded at a special victors’ ceremony at the completion of each stage, which illustrates the symbolic linkage between sports and work desired by government and sports leaders. Each evening during the Friedensfahrt, organizers awarded prizes not only to the stage winner and team winner, as was typical in most major athletic events, but also to the top twenty-five cyclists.53 The victors’ ceremonies symbolically united the workers of socialist countries, who had produced the special prizes, with the best representatives of those countries, the Friedensfahrt cyclists. The awarding of special prizes also highlighted the wealth and productivity of GDR industries to cyclists from nonsocialist countries. Proud workers could watch as a Friedensfahrt cyclist received a prize produced through their own labor, with their factory mentioned by name. Special work productivity drives sponsored in association with the Friedensfahrt also reflected the symbolic link between sports and work. In 1956 enterprises sponsored a competition to exceed work productivity norms. The posters printed for distribution in factories featured cyclists, struggling to complete each stage of the Friedensfahrt, as stand-ins for workers, struggling to complete their quotas. Some honorary prizes highlighted the link between sports and work. In 1952 public transportation workers from the city of Görlitz gave cyclist Rudi Kirchhoff SAPMO-BArch, DY 12 492, “Ehrengeschenke, Cottbus,” Bl. 79. SAPMO-BArch, DY 12 492, Letter from Produktionsgenossenschaft Florian Geyer Aschersleben to Zentralorganisationsbüro der VIII. Internationalen Friedensfahrt, Bl. 168. 52 SAPMO-BArch, DY 12 492, “Hiermit sprechen wir der Belegschaft,” Bl. 91. 53 SAPMO-BArch, DY 12 492, “Einzelpreise vom 1.–25. Fahrer der Etappe nach Berlin,” Bl. 78. 50 51

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a scrapbook as an honorary prize. The book, likely subject to official oversight, featured formulaic language celebrating the parallels between workers and athletes. Some workers pledged work goals “to give expression to their solidarity” with Friedensfahrt cyclists, and others hailed the ideological importance of the race, celebrating it as “a clear expression of the shared fight for preserving and strengthening peace.” Also revealing the work-sports connection, many work brigades took the name “Friedensfahrt” or the names of individual cyclists as honorary names. One brigade even sewed the label “completed by the Brigade Täve Schur” inside the collar of the shirts it produced.54 Even more comprehensive than the state’s desire to involve workers were efforts to encourage its schools and youth organizations, the Young Pioneers and the Free German Youth, to participate in events organized in conjunction with the Friedensfahrt. School lessons seamlessly incorporated the Friedensfahrt. In preparation for the 1955 race, children at the Ernst Schneller Schule in Dresden wrote special essays on the theme of “Die Friedensfahrt” for their German class. Children in art classes drew pictures of the Friedensfahrt.55 Students at the Grundschule 31 in Dresden sketched the map of the Friedensfahrt route in their geography class.56 Some schools organized a special raffle. At the Grundschule 34 in Prenzlauer Berg in Berlin, teachers asked students questions about the Friedensfahrt during Saturday roll call, and students wrote answers on slips of paper and dropped them into a special box outside the Pioneer room. During the Monday morning roll call, teachers drew several of the many correct answers from the box and awarded books as prizes to the knowledgeable students.57 Students also completed a wide range of special projects. The Free German Youth and the Young Pioneer organizations in each school organized drives to encourage students to make gifts such as handmade handkerchiefs, sketches, and poems for the cyclists.58 Quite ambitious were students at the Grundschule 34 in Prenzlauer Berg in Berlin, who designed a sandbox reconstruction of

54 The posters, scrapbook, and shirt are on display at the Radsportmuseum Course de la Paix. 55 SAPMO-BArch, DY 12 474, “Abschrift Ernst Schneller Schule, Arbeitsplan zur Popularisierung der VIII. Internationalen Friedensfahrt,” Bl. 12. 56 SAPMO-BArch, DY 12 474, “Abschrift Verpflichtung, Der Pädagogische Rat der 31. Grundschule,” Bl. 13. 57 SML, “So erlebte ich die Friedensfahrt: Ein Schulaufsatz von Monika Frost, Klasse 7a,” in ‘Die Zehnte’: X. Internationale Friedensfahrt. 58 Ibid.

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the Friedensfahrt route in 1956 as a class activity. They arranged a band of cord connecting Prague to Berlin to Warsaw, incorporating the many villages and towns through which the cyclists would pass. The students also formed houses out of play dough and used matches covered with cotton balls dipped in green paint to represent trees and sand to form hills, mountains, and valleys.59 School children often attended the victors’ ceremonies in the evenings following each stage and gave the cyclists the gifts they had made. Furthermore, schools encouraged students to help mobilize their communities. In 1957, students from the Grundschule 34 in Prenzlauer Berg rode through Berlin on decorated bicycles in order to encourage residents to prepare for the arrival of the Friedensfahrt cyclists.60 Friedensfahrt organizers also appealed directly to cities, towns, and neighborhoods to help prepare for the big event. In 1955 the Organizational Bureau for Cottbus sent a mass mailing to residents, proclaiming the importance of the Friedensfahrt, providing details about the arrival of the cyclists, and expressing hope that 12 May 1955—the day the cyclists were scheduled to arrive in Cottbus—would “remain forever in people’s memories as an unforgettable event.” The letter asked residents to decorate their streets and enterprises and reminded them that Cottbus was participating in an international competition—alongside other East German cities and those of Poland and Czechoslovakia—to honor the city that best prepared for the Friedensfahrt. The call asked, “Is it not your wish that Cottbus will take one of the first places in this competition?”61 In 1956, organizers set up local commissions in neighborhoods all over the stage host city of Leipzig. Among the many neighborhood activities were those of City District 13, which showed a public film celebrating a previous Friedensfahrt, and City District 12, which organized a cycling race around the Auensee.62 Even though the central state expected participation in the annual Friedensfahrt spectacle, cities that hosted stages of the race could still experience local pride in their work. As the call to the residents of Cottbus indicates, many municipal leaders viewed hosting a stage of the Friedensfahrt as an honor, perhaps because of the civic participation

Ibid. Ibid. 61 SAPMO-BArch, DY 12 473, “An alle Einwohner des Bezirkes Cottbus,” Bl. 62. 62 SAPMO-BArch, DY 12 491, “Bericht über die Vorbereitungen im Etappenort Leipzig,” Bl. 23. 59 60

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that it inspired.63 A scrapbook prepared in 1958 by the small town of Lübbenau, which Friedensfahrt cyclists passed through on their way to Berlin, as a gift for the winner of the stage from Görlitz to Berlin highlights the civic pride engendered by Friedensfahrt mobilization activities. The book invited the victor to appreciate the town as the “entrance to the most beautiful part of the Spreewald” and featured beautiful black and white photographs of the town and its people. Although some pictures featured appropriately socialist activities, such as parade marchers holding banners with political slogans, the main focus was the beauty of the town.64 By the same token, a city or town that was bypassed as a stage host could feel great disappointment. In 1956 enterprises and BSGs from the city of Riesa wrote letters to the GDR’s Cycling Commission to complain that Riesa had not been chosen as a host city for that year and to request that the committee reconsider its decision. One letter emphasized the great enthusiasm that the city of Riesa and its workers had for the Friedensfahrt. It claimed that the city had planned to allow the Friedensfahrt cyclists to be the first people to cross the recently built bridge and asked that the responsible functionaries take into consideration the wishes of the local workers.65 The BSG Traktor Seerhausen wrote a similar letter to express disappointment that Riesa had been bypassed; it pledged that if the committee changed its mind, the members of the BSG would assume responsibility for decorating the Friedensfahrt route that passed through the village.66 The Organizational Bureau answered both letters with apologies, emphasizing that it did not undervalue the city of Riesa, but that the border crossing point between Poland and East Germany was located too far away from Riesa on that year’s route to include their town.67

63 For more on the role of civic pride in East Germany, see the essays in Adelheid von Saldern, ed., Inszenierte Einigkeit: Herrschaftsrepräsentationen in DDR-Städten (Stuttgart: F. Steiner, 2003). 64 The scrapbook is on display at the Radsportmuseum Course de la Paix. 65 SAPMO-BArch, DY 12 480, Letter from Sozialversicherung Kreisgeschäftsstelle Riesa to Sektion Radsport der DDR, “Betr. Friedensfahrt 1956,” 17 January 1956, Bl. 372. 66 SAPMO-BArch, DY 12 480, Letter from BSG Traktor Seerhausen, Kreis Riesa, to Sektion Radsport der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik, 15 January 1956, Bl. 374. 67 SAPMO-BArch, DY 12 480, Letter from Zentrales Org.-Büro Friedensfahrt 1956 to the Sozialversicherung Kreisgeschäftsstelle Riesa, 25 January 1956, Bl. 371; SAPMO-BArch DY 12 480, Letter to the BSG Traktor Seerhausen, from Zentrales Organisations-Büro Friedensfahrt 1956, 25 January 1956, Bl. 373.

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To mobilize interest and educate citizens about the Friedensfahrt, organizers sold programs and special stamps, organized a lottery that enabled citizens to bet on their favorite riders and win prizes,68 and produced a special board game. The board game, which brought the Friedensfahrt into East German living rooms, featured the three capital cities as well as the cities and towns that hosted each stage. Each player was a Friedensfahrt cyclist, and with the roll of dice s/he would proceed through a series of numbered squares along a Friedensfahrt route. Each number signified a certain penalty or reward. Landing on the number nine meant that a cyclist/player had violated the rules of cycling by drafting off of an automobile. Because a Friedensfahrt cyclist would receive a seven-minute penalty for this infraction, the player of the board game was forced to move back seven spaces. When landing on a six, the cyclist/player discovered that a spectator had let a dog run onto the course, causing the cyclist to crash and need medical attention. Therefore, the player had to sit out a turn. Encouraging spectators to keep their pets on leashes and refrain from throwing objects onto the course was a constant challenge for Friedensfahrt organizers.69 The board game thus stimulated general interest in the Friedensfahrt, familiarized players with the rules of professional cycling, and promoted appropriate spectator conduct. East German sports leaders also used the Friedensfahrt to motivate its citizens to participate in competitive and non-competitive cycling events. Among the primary mass sporting opportunities incorporated into Friedensfahrt festivities were the Kleine Friedensfahrt competitions, organized by the Young Pioneers all over the GDR in conjunction with the Friedensfahrt.70 In a Kleine Friedensfahrt, children competed in informal cycling races and tested their own abilities. Organizers intended these competitions not only to inspire informal participation in cycling, but also to suggest to talented youth that glory could one day be theirs if they trained seriously. A 1959 newsreel shown in GDR movie theaters documented a Kleine Friedensfahrt in which Täve Schur himself showed up to participate alongside East German children,71 implying that SAPMO-BArch, DY 12 492, Letter to the Etappen-Organisations-Büro der VIII. Internationalen Friedensfahrt 1955, “Betr: Verkauf vom Spendenmarken für das Nationale Aufbauwerk,” Bl. 334. 69 SAPMO-BArch, DY 12 473, “Spielregeln, Würfelspiel zur VIII. Internationalen Friedensfahrt.” 70 SML, “Programm im Etappenort Leipzig am Ankunftstag der Friedensfahrer,” in Programm für den 4. Mai 1959, Etappenort Leipzig. 71 Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv, “Kleine Friedensfahrt,” BSP 18047, B34/1959. 68

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through committed training, today’s children could become tomorrow’s Täve Schur. The GDR’s cycling federation also organized the Treffpunkt Friedensfahrt for GDR teenagers. Each county organized qualification races in the months leading up to the Friedensfahrt. The twenty fastest youth between ages fourteen and eighteen received invitations to the Treffpunkt, a condensed cycling tour that followed the same route as the Friedensfahrt. Organizers selected one small portion of approximately seventeen kilometers from every Friedensfahrt stage on East German soil. On the day the Friedensfahrt cyclists were scheduled to complete each stage, the youth held their own competition along these selected routes. At the last victors’ ceremony held on East German soil, the winner of the six-stage Treffpunkt Friedensfahrt was honored alongside the stage winners of the official Friedensfahrt.72 Sports officials also worked to organize mass sporting efforts for adults in conjunction with the Friedensfahrt. The mass sports plan for summer 1953, prepared by the State Committee for Physical Culture and Sports and distributed throughout the GDR, asked local organizers in every town and village to organize a Route for Everyone (Rundstrecke für Jedermann) between 6 May and 10 May, the days when the Friedensfahrt cyclists were on East German soil. These events, designed to appeal to all citizens regardless of ability, provided citizens not only with the opportunity to enjoy cycling with friends and neighbors, but also to fulfill requirements for the BAV Sports Medal.73 Presumably, then, the Route for Everyone would give these citizens the confidence to commit future leisure time to the quest for the Sports Medal. Perhaps they might even join a BSG. As the program for the 1959 arrival ceremony in Leipzig noted, citizens who had questions about how to get involved in sports could contact any local BSG or the local German Gymnastics and Sports Federation (DTSB).74 Efforts to draw citizens to the shared locale of the Friedensfahrt route, as well as to enlist their active participation in both non-athletic and athletic parallel activities, undoubtedly reflected “organized spontaneity,” to cite Grit Hartmann once again. What appeared to be a spontane-

72 SML, “Rahmen-Ausschreibung ‘Treffpunkt Friedensfahrt,’” in Zwölfte Internationale Radfernfahrt für den Frieden. 73 BAB DR 5 49, “Richtlinien für den Massensport im Sommer 1953.” 74 SML, “Festübungen-eine Sache aller!” in Programm für den 4. Mai 1959, Etappenort Leipzig.

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ous national outpouring of interest in the event was actually carefully organized to mobilize as many citizens as possible in order to promote patriotism and to cultivate a socialist spectatorship founded on active participation rather than passive consumption. The prominence of high-level organization and the existence of genuine enthusiasm among the population were not, however, mutually exclusive phenomena. As archival and interview evidence reveals, thousands of GDR citizens stepped out of their homes and into public spaces to prepare their cities, create gifts, greet cyclists, and celebrate their national team. The Friedensfahrt thus became, as SED leaders hoped, an opportunity for the collective participation of the entire East German citizenry in a national and international event. The program for the 1957 Friedensfahrt declared, “All of us who stand along the route have made our own contribution to this accomplishment.”75 “His Rise is the Rise of Our Entire State”: Champion Täve Schur To East German government and sports leaders, the Friedensfahrt not only inspired patriotic pride and encouraged citizens to play sports, but also provided citizens with proper socialist role models. Initially, the cultivation of successful athletes as model citizens centered on the victorious 1953 team, which secured East Germany’s first athletic victory. Two years later, when Täve Schur won the individual championship, the state began to focus on the individual athlete as hero. When the GDR’s Friedensfahrt team won the team competition in 1953 in a tight finish on the final day of the competition in Warsaw, the outpouring of grassroots enthusiasm was soon joined by government-organized celebration.76 On 20 May 1953 a ceremony in

SAPMO-BArch, DY 12 491, “Programm, IX. Friedensfahrt,” Bl. 130. Journalist Grit Hartmann compares the success of the GDR’s 1953 Friedensfahrt team to that of West Germany’s 1954 World Cup winning soccer team, interpreting both victories as helping regain morale and pride in their respective nations. Hartmann, 23. On the significance of the 1954 World Cup in West Germany, see Arthur Heinrich, “The 1954 Soccer World Cup and the Federal Republic of Germany’s Self-Discovery,” American Behavioral Scientist 46, no. 11 (2003): 1491–1505. Elizabeth Heineman discusses how the messages about gender and sexuality in the 2003 film on the 1954 World Cup, “Das Wunder von Bern,” inform contemporary discussions about the Nazi past in “Gender, Sexuality, and Coming to Terms with the Nazi Past,” Central European History 38, no. 1 (2005): 41–74. 75 76

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Walter-Ulbricht-Stadion in Berlin honored the six men of the Friedensfahrt team along with their coach and support staff. Walter Ulbricht spoke at the ceremony, proclaiming that the Friedensfahrt victory was not merely an athletic success but also a demonstration of the superiority of a socialist system. According to Ulbricht, the Friedensfahrt victory was only possible “where the working class has seized state power and in a strong alliance with the farmers has paved the path to socialism. Only in such a state will physical culture and sports become an organic component of the harmonious education and blossoming of the person.”77 Socialist political and sports leaders commonly claimed, as did Ulbricht here, that only socialist countries properly supported all citizens in their athletic endeavors, whereas in capitalist countries only wealthy citizens enjoyed opportunities. Ulbricht also celebrated the model qualities embodied by the Friedensfahrt team, emphasizing specifically its “will to victory” and its “collective spirit.”78 Similarly, Ulbricht emphasized that the victorious Friedensfahrt cyclists did not ride to seek individual glory and fame, but rather to honor their government, proclaiming that “They fought not for the good of their own personal glory, but rather to thank the German Democratic Republic for its generous support of sports.”79 Ulbricht viewed the victory of the East German team in the Friedensfahrt as a marker not merely of the collective accomplishments of the individual riders, but also of the successes of socialism in the GDR, where the cyclists lived, worked, and trained. This pattern of explaining athletic success was also prevalent in other socialist states including the Soviet Union.80 Although leaders celebrated the members of the victorious 1953 Friedensfahrt team as collective heroes, the ultimate sports hero and model GDR citizen emerged two years later in 1955, when the 24year-old Gustav-Adolf Schur achieved the fastest individual time in the Friedensfahrt. Schur’s successes included not only individual victory in the Friedensfahrt in 1955 and 1959 and victory in the world cycling championships in 1958 and 1959 (for which he competed as a representative of the GDR), but also a bronze medal in the 1956 Olympics 77 Walter Ulbricht, “‘Mannschaftssieg unserer Friedensfahrer-Beispiel für alle Sportler der DDR.’ Aus der Rede anlässlich der Auszeichnung der Friedensfahrer im WalterUlbricht-Stadion,” in Sport frei: Walter Ulbricht, Vorbild, Lehrer und Freund der Deutschen Sportler, ed. Günter Erbach, et al. (Berlin: Sportverlag Berlin, 1963), 270–272. 78 Ibid. 79 Walter Ulbricht, “Mannschaftssieg unserer Friedensfahrer.” 80 Keys, 180.

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and a silver medal in the 1960 Olympics (for which he competed as a member of the joint West German-East German team). Schur, most often addressed by his childhood nickname “Täve,” soon became, in the words of historian Willi Knecht, the “prototype of the use of popular athletes as political role models.”81 The East German government’s cultivation of Täve Schur as socialist role model reflected its need to find and develop new national heroes not tainted by militarism, capitalism, or National Socialism.82 The primary goal was to cultivate heroes as a way to win the “trust” of the population. If the state’s heroes succeeded in appealing to the population and winning citizen trust, this trust would, in theory, translate into broader citizen support for the new socialist government as a whole. Heroes were thus “advertisements for socialist ideology.”83 Historian Rainer Gries uses theatrical metaphors to describe the presentation of socialist heroes in the GDR. The SED Party directed the “stage of heroes,” with carefully planned dialogue, proper lighting, and meticulously staged scenes. Gries emphasizes that the 1950s were the highpoint for the “stage of heroes,” as it was the foundational decade when East Germany was still struggling to gain citizen support. The “trilogy” of heroes in the 1950s included “Heroes of Antifascist Resistance” such as Ernst Thälmann, “Heroes of Socialist Construction and Work” such as Adolf Hennecke, and the athletic “We-Heroes” such as Täve Schur, whose athletic achievements particularly helped the East German population identify with him. In later decades, East Germany would also celebrate East German cosmonaut Sigmund Jähn—the first German in space—and Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereschkova—the first woman in space.84 Journalist and historian Norbert Rossbach has demonstrated that, because there was no autonomous sports press in the GDR, the state carefully directed the mass media presentation of socialist heroes such as Schur. The SED instructed journalists to undertake “well-conceptualized and concrete promotional activity” and

81 Willi Ph. Knecht, Das Medaillenkollektiv: Fakten, Dokumente, Kommentare zum Sport in der DDR (Berlin: Holzapfel, 1978), 124. 82 Rainer Gries, “Die Heldenbühne der DDR. Zur Einführung,” in Sozialistische Helden: Eine Kulturgeschichte von Propagandafiguren in Osteuropa und der DDR, ed. Silke Satjukow and Rainer Gries (Berlin: Christoph Links, 2002), 87. 83 Silke Satjukow and Rainer Gries, “ ‘Du sprichst mir Dein Vertrauen aus . . .’: Ein Vorwort,” in Sozialistische Helden, 11. 84 Gries, “Die Heldenbühne,” 84–100.

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to popularize “ideologically exemplary elite athletes.”85 Mass media presentations of Schur thus reflected official Party desires. The burst of media and government interest in and celebration of Täve Schur was astounding, especially after his Friedensfahrt victory in 1955. Two full-length biographies celebrated him: Adolf Klimanschewsky’s Täve: A Portrait of an Athlete of Our Time was published following his 1955 victory and Klaus Ullrich’s Our World Champion was published in 1959 following his victory in consecutive world championships.86 By 1959 Klimanschewsky’s book, in its fourth printing, had sold 90,000 copies. Ullrich’s book, serialized in newspapers, was sold at every kiosk for a mere 80 pfennig, though one had to buy the bound book if one wanted the photographs of Schur. Klimanschewsky’s book contained forty and Ullrich’s fifteen of them.87 Indeed, pictures of Täve were everywhere—in newspapers, in books, on posters, and on postcards.88 Many photographs featured Täve talking with children, visiting factories, or standing or sitting alongside Walter Ulbricht. These photographs highlighted Täve’s friendships with children and with workers and associated the popular Täve with the sometimes unpopular Ulbricht.89 The media attention surrounding Täve Schur was in fact so pervasive that it found resonance outside the East bloc: the novelist Uwe Johnson, who had emigrated from East Germany to West Germany in 1959, published a novel in 1961 called The Third Book About Achim, which narrated the failed effort of a West German journalist to interview the famous East German cyclist “Achim.” Although Johnson’s novel is fictional rather than biographical, he revealed in a later interview that he was responding to the Täve phenomenon and intended his “third book” to follow upon the biographies written by Klimanschewsky and

85 Cited in Norbert Rossbach, “Täve: Der Radsportler Gustav-Adolf Schur,” in Sozialistische Helden, 135. 86 See Adolf Klimanschewsky, Täve: Das Lebensbild eines Sportlers unserer Zeit (Berlin: Sportverlag Berlin, 1955), and Klaus Ullrich, Unser Weltmeister (Berlin: Sportverlag Berlin, 1959). 87 Stefan Schweizer, “Täve Schur und das Bild der ‘Diplomaten im Trainingsanzug’: Zur bildlichen Inszenierung von Spitzensportlern in der DDR,” in Die DDR im Bild: Zum Gebrauch der Fotografie im anderen deutschen Staat, ed. Karin Hartewig and Alf Lüdtke (Göttingen: Wallstein, 2004), 81. 88 See Schweizer, 69–86. 89 Just one of many examples is a photograph in the program for the 1957 Friedensfahrt that shows Täve and Ulbricht standing together. The caption says, “Der Freund des Sportes Walter Ulbricht und Gustav Adolf Schur.” See SML, Die Zehnte: X. International Friedensfahrt, 1.

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Ullrich and to offer a social critique of the political role of sports in the GDR.90 The official programs published for each year’s Friedensfahrt also featured many odes to Täve. The 1958 program featured Täve’s parents and siblings sharing childhood memories of their talented son and brother.91 The 1959 program documents the marriage proposals that Täve received, including one from a woman who wrote that she had recently taken a course on cooking and sewing and would make him an “efficient housewife.”92 Such articles presented to teenage girls and young women in East Germany a homegrown, ideologically appropriate heterosexual object of affection, giving them an alternative to the objectionable American film stars Marlon Brando and Elvis Presley, embraced by so many young women in both West and East Germany to the consternation of both governments.93 Government and media celebration of the East German team victory in 1953 had focused on the collective work of the team, emphasizing that such commitment to the collective provided an important model for GDR citizens. This echoed the emphasis on the collective inherent in such socialist public events as the Sports Show and the Osttribüne. Once Täve Schur became the primary athletic hero, East German leaders and sports organizers focused on reconciling his individual achievement with the collective values that defined socialism. To this end, mass media celebrated Schur as the corporal embodiment of ideal socialist values, emphasizing four points: his personal background as an Arbeiterkind (child of the working class), his embrace of a collective ethos, his demonstration of socialist superiority, and his clear support of the socialist government and the socialist project. First and foremost, media coverage upheld Schur as an Arbeiterkind. In his 1959 biography of Schur, Klaus Ullrich emphasized that Schur was born to working-class parents in 1931, a time of profound economic crisis. His parents’ joy at his birth was tempered by their anxiety about how to support him, and his father hoped that “this tiny child 90 Uwe Johnson, cited in Hartmann, Goldkinder, 287. See Uwe Johnson, Das dritte Buch über Achim, (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1961). 91 SML, “ ‘Täves’ Eltern erzählen. . . .” in Zwölfte Internationale Radfernfahrt für den Frieden. 92 SML, XII. Internationale Radfernfahrt für den Frieden Berlin-Prag-Warschau, Programm für den 4. Mai 1959, Etappenort Leipzig. 93 Uta G. Poiger, Jazz, Rock, and Rebels: Cold War Politics and American Culture in a Divided Germany (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000), chapter 5.

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should one day have it better.”94 That better time came after World War Two in the East German socialist state, where Schur began training as a machine mechanic and took up cycling, racing alongside a bus to develop his speed and skill. A trainer discovered him, and he began competing and soon attained success.95 Yet state narratives emphasized that he never abandoned his working-class roots, and even took time out of his busy schedule to visit East Germany’s workers in their factories. In 1958, for example, Schur visited VEB Elektroschaltgeräte Grimma for a ceremony to commemorate the youth brigade’s decision to take “Friedensfahrt” as its honorary name. A scrapbook compiled to celebrate his visit features ideological language declaring that the youth brigade would “work and study in a socialist way” and that its primary goal was to be a “brigade of socialist work.” The scrapbook also includes many pictures of Schur observing workers and even trying his hand at one of the machines used to make electrical switches. He also participated in a question and answer session with the youth brigade, with the slogan “The future of our youth lies in socialism—onward to victory!” superimposed behind him. Photographs show Schur signing autographs and dancing with a young woman from the brigade.96 Schur’s visit to the enterprise was clearly choreographed to highlight the symbolic tie between sports and work, as well as Schur’s continued commitment to workers themselves. Second, official discourse on Schur celebrated his commitment to the collective. Key to his legend was the tale of his loss in the 1960 World Championship. Schur entered the event as defending champion, having won in 1958 and in 1959. He thus had the chance for an unprecedented third victory. On the final day of the race, Schur, another GDR rider Bernhard Eckstein, and a cyclist from Belgium were all close together approaching the finish line, and Schur took off fast, trusting that the Belgian would chase him. This wore down both Schur and the Belgian, allowing Eckstein to win the event, and by extension, the GDR to win its third consecutive World Championship. Although Täve lost this race, he became even more valuable as a socialist role model. He had sacrificed his own individual chance for a repeat victory in order to maximize the chances that the GDR would win first place.97 94 95 96 97

Ullrich, Weltmeister, 9. Ibid., 15. The scrapbook is on display at the Radsportmuseum Course de la Paix. See Klaus Ullrich, Unser Täve (Berlin: Sportverlag Berlin, 1960), 339–348, a

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Third, fundamental to the media celebration of Schur was the claim that he succeeded primarily because of the advantages that he, as a citizen of the GDR, enjoyed. This interpretation eschewed a focus on the brilliant and talented individual athlete, born with astounding athletic gifts, and instead explained athletic prowess as the product of a successful socioeconomic system. His victories were thus a collective achievement. According to this interpretation, Täve’s success was due primarily to the extensive and unprecedented support that the GDR gave all citizens who wished to play sports. As Rudi Reichert, president of the DTSB, proclaimed, “the socialist social order gives every talented young person the opportunity . . . to work towards athletic achievement and to measure his strength and ability in peaceful competition with the best athletes of the world.”98 By extension, Täve’s great athletic successes demonstrated the advantages of the East German economy and polity as a whole, which guaranteed opportunity and security to all citizens. As Klaus Ullrich wrote in his 1959 biography of Täve, “He had the fortune to live in a time in which all doors were open to athletes who were efficient, level-headed, and honest.”99 The GDR might not have been able to produce enough automobiles or butter to compete with West Germany or to build sports stadiums without substantial citizen “voluntarism,” but it could produce successful athletes. According to these narratives, Schur’s rise to athletic prominence paralleled the GDR’s rise to economic success in its founding decade. As Ullrich’s biography continued, “Täve is a son of his time, a son of the German Democratic Republic. He rode not only on the first tires manufactured in our republic, was not only the first to try out the new bikes produced by the Diamant factory, but he also stood at the anvil himself during the difficult years of hunger. His rise is the rise of our entire state. . . .”100 Schur thus embodied the GDR as a whole. Reichert expressed this quite directly. In an official speech several months after Täve’s second Friedensfahrt victory, he proclaimed that “He is the symbol

revision of his 1959 Unser Weltmeister, updated and retitled once Schur was no longer World Champion. Both Stefan Schweizer and Norbert Rossbach include the 1960 story as evidence of Schur’s commitment to the collective. They emphasize how it further contributed to his popularity and to his usefulness as a socialist role model. See Schweizer, 79–80, and Rossbach, 136. 98 10 Jahre DDR: Der Sport hilft beim Aufbau (Berlin: Sportverlag Berlin, 1959), 26. 99 Ullrich, Weltmeister, 3. 100 Ibid., 4.

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and example for the entire youth and a superb representative of the German Democratic Republic.”101 Finally, media coverage emphasized Schur’s political commitment to East German socialism as proof of his fitness as a role model for all citizens. According to official writings on Schur, he recognized the truthfulness and value of socialism and lived his own life accordingly. He was always active politically, joining the SED in 1958, serving on the Central Council of the Free German Youth, winning election to the People’s Chamber (Volkskammer) in 1959 (and serving through 1990), and participating in the presidium of the DTSB. His political career continued long after the demise of the GDR through his work on behalf of the PDS. It is certainly possible and even probable that Schur’s political support for the GDR was genuine, especially considering not only the athletic opportunities he enjoyed but also the academic and leadership opportunities he received after his retirement from cycling.102 In addition to his political work, he earned a degree as a coach at the German College for Physical Culture in 1963 and worked as a sports researcher. The GDR was very generous in providing Schur with opportunities, largely because of his domestic popularity and international prominence. His political career also shows what would become the standard expectations of all internationally competitive GDR athletes. To demonstrate their appreciation to the state and to continue to receive the resources that supported their training, they were required to assume proper political stances. As Willi Knecht argues, “What began with Schur is now the norm. In return for generous support, the state and the party expect not only athletic achievement, but also an unambiguous display of a solid class-based worldview.”103 Although the government carefully cultivated Täve Schur as a socialist role model, he was hardly an empty propaganda construct, and he enjoyed widespread popularity at the grassroots level. In 1987, twentythree years after Schur’s 1964 retirement and two years before the collapse of the East German state, East German citizens overwhelming

10 Jahre DDR, 4. In his 2001 autobiography, Schur declared that his political activities in the GDR resulted from genuine conviction, as does his continued work on behalf of the PDS. Gustav-Adolf Schur, Täve, Die Autobiographie: Gustav-Adolf Schur erzählt sein Leben (Berlin: Das Neue Berlin, 2001). 103 Knecht, 126. 101 102

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selected Schur their all-time favorite athlete over countless Olympic and World Champions.104 Oral history interviews and letters citizens mailed to Schur in the 1950s provide further evidence of Schur’s popularity. Citizens’ memories of Schur sometimes reflected official state discourse, revealing the state’s successes at shaping the public’s interpretations of Schur. At the same time, many of the letters celebrated Schur’s popularity through a more personal and individual lens. Even fifty years after Schur’s first victory in the Friedensfahrt, many former East German citizens remembered Schur in glowing terms. Wilfried Gärtner described Schur as “still today one of the greatest that ever was.”105 Günther Deckert hailed Schur as a “phenomenon.”106 Dieter Stellmacher remembered Schur as charismatic and emphasized that he was one of the most popular German athletes of the twentieth century alongside boxer Max Schmeling and soccer players Fritz Walter and Franz Beckenbauer.107 Hurdler Peter Hähnel also remembered Schur as “genuinely” popular.108 Interestingly, some of the praise resembled, almost to the word, the official state media’s presentation of Schur. Horst Heck, in a 2005 oral interview, described Schur as “extraordinarily likable” and then relayed the famous anecdote, documented in all Schur biographies, of how Schur raced a local bus when he was young to challenge his legs to better performance. Then Heck, narrating as though telling a suspense story, detailed the famous moment in the 1960 World Championship when Schur sacrificed his individual ambitions for the sake of his East German teammate Eckstein. Heck noted that this won him “even more sympathy” in public eyes.109 In his interview, Richard Dietzsch told the same story from the 1960 World Championship.110 Heck’s and Dietzsch’s narrations reveal how the narratives that the state produced about Schur shaped popular discourse. Schur was clearly genuinely popular at the grassroots, yet his place within socialist culture was also shaped by the state’s official story, and some citizens clearly internalized the “collective” message of Schur’s 1960 “defeat.”

104 105 106 107 108 109 110

See Rossbach, 133. Gärtner, interview. Deckert, interview. Stellmacher, interview. Hähnel, interview. Jentzsch, Heck, and Rössner, interview. Dietzsch, interview.

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More revealing of the extensive grassroots popularity of Schur in the 1950s, and not just the endurance of his legend over the decades, are citizen letters to Schur.111 Some, such as those from youth brigades and school classes, were clearly written in collective environments and often featured formulaic ideological language. School children often wrote letters to Friedensfahrt cyclists from their class as a whole.112 Many more of the letters, however, were written by individual citizens, mostly children, youth, and women, purely on their own initiative and quite personal in nature. State and media celebration had helped make Schur a phenomenon, and by embracing a personal hero that the East German government approved as appropriate for adulation, East German citizens—whether for personal or political reasons—engaged in behavior desired by, approved of, and in many ways directed by their government. Yet, most citizens’ embrace of Schur was based not on politics or ideology, but on a general appreciation for a good-looking, charming, successful athletic champion.113 The most formulaic letters written to Schur were prepared by youth or adult brigades of enterprises. The VEB Meissner Schuhfabrik sent him a pair of the velour shoes that it produced, along with a letter dated 24 September 1954 proclaiming that, “We want to do our best, you in sports and we in production, to guarantee future peace and also to ensure that the 1955 Friedensfahrt will once again be a success.” The Industriebau Magdeburg wrote a letter with similar ideological pronouncements. The enterprise had heard that Schur wanted to build a home and offered to produce a model for free in order to honor his achievements on behalf of “peace, unity, and democracy.” Many enterprises wrote him letters asking his permission to name their brigades 111 See Radsportmuseum Course de la Paix, Nachlass Gustav-Adolf Schur (hereafter Nachlass Schur). The letters in the collection are kept in unlabelled binders; they are not organized by any numeric archival system. 112 SAPMO-BArch, DY 12 474, “Abschrift Ernst Schneller Schule, Arbeitsplan zur Popularisierung der VIII. Internationalen Friedensfahrt,” Bl. 12; SAPMO-BArch, DY 12 474, “Abschrift, Verpflichtung, der Pädagogische Rat der 31. Grundschule,” Bl. 13. 113 Based on a discussion of four letters, including one in which a woman professed her love for Schur while also rejoicing that he “won in the colors of our Republic,” journalist and historian Norbert Rossbach has suggested that state discourse informed even individual letters. As a result, Rossbach argues that it would be “fallacious” to assume that East Germans could weave back and forth between public and private identities. True enough, many of the letters featured ideological discourse. Yet just as many did not. Rossbach does not indicate whether he viewed these four letters as part of the thousands stored in the Radsport Museum Course de la Paix or in another, perhaps preselected and published form. See Rossbach, 146.

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after him. Teenage apprentices from the Baumwollspinnerei Floha asked for permission to name their brigade “Gustav-Adolf Schur.” These youth, who wrote in language that echoes state celebrations of the work-sports symbiosis, wanted their brigade to carry Schur’s name because such a daily reminder of his athletic accomplishments would set a good example for them as they pursued their own work goals. VEB Secura-Werke in Berlin wrote on 4 June 1955, just a few weeks after Schur’s first victory, to ask if it could name its children’s camp after him.114 These were among the letters sent directly to Schur’s home, but other enterprises sent letters to the Friedensfahrt Organizational Bureau, and some were processed and have become part of the state archival files on East German sports. DTSB files contain a letter written by the youth brigade of the MTS Balow-Prislich in the district of Schwerin in 1956 to Schur, asking for permission to name the newly-founded youth brigade “Täve Schur.” This letter, too, celebrated the official symbiosis between worker and athlete in the GDR: “We promise that we will carry your name with pride and do it honor. Just like you, we want to use our strength and ability to work for peace and a better life in the German Democratic Republic. . . . You on your bicycle on the streets, we with our tractors in the fields! From stage to stage!” Each member of the youth brigade signed.115 The central Organizational Bureau answered several days later that it had spoken with Schur before the Friedensfahrt team left for Warsaw and that “Täve Schur thanks you heartily for your letter and gives his consent that your brigade will henceforth carry his name.”116 Some Pioneer Groups and school classes also sent Schur letters that they prepared collectively. On 20 May 1959 the Pioneer group “Wilhelm Pieck” in Lichte wrote a letter as formulaic as the brigade letters, congratulating Schur and his team for their hard work on the “roads of peace.” According to the letter: “We congratulate you for the great accomplishments that you achieved on behalf of our Workers’ and Farmers’ State. We know that you will continue to work on

Nachlass Schur. SAPMO-BArch DY 12 480, Letter from Jugendbrigade der MTS-Balow Prislich, Bezirk Schwerin/Meckl., Prislich, 19 April 1956, to Lieber Sportfreund Täve, Bl. 294. 116 SAPMO-BArch, DY 12 480, Letter to the Jugendbrigade der MTS-Balow, from the Zentrales Organisations-Büro, Friedensfahrt 1954, 27 April 1956, Bl. 293. 114 115

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behalf of our Republic. You showed the world once again, that there is a GDR . . . Dear Comrade Täve! We will always honor you as a role model. We promise you, we will devote our strength to the honor of our school and our Republic.”117 Other school classes, such as the twenty-nine students in Class 5a at the Borgsdorf Grundschule in the county of Oranienburg, sent less ideological and more casual letters. Their letter from 23 May 1955 emphasized that they had created a Friedensfahrt bulletin board in their classroom and updated it every day. They mentioned that Schur had passed through their town during the 1954 East German Cycling Championship; they had all waved at him and cheered for him. The letter also passed along the greetings of one of their classmates who had given him a bouquet of flowers during the ceremonial Friedensfahrt start in Berlin the year before. The female students in Klasse 7 in Wittenberg wrote to Schur on 21 June 1956 to ask if he had received the poem they had written him and to find out whether he had liked it; their letter was one of the many letters that wondered why Schur had not responded to previous correspondence. Children who were too young to write letters themselves often wrote Schur letters with the help of their teachers. On 24 May 1957 the teacher of a Kindergarten group affiliated with Greifswald University penned a letter of congratulations to Schur and his team. The teacher wrote that many of the children were learning to cycle; one student, Christian, had even gotten a new bicycle and proclaimed that “I would like to be able to ride as fast one day as Täve.” The teacher included a picture drawn by 6-year-old Petra that depicted Schur on his bicycle. The letter concluded by expressing the children’s wishes that Schur visit them, should he ever come to Greifswald, promising to sing and dance for him.118 Some children’s Pioneer Camps also wrote group letters to Schur. The Pioneer Camp “Karl Marx” in Bad Schmiedeberg wrote a short note on 1 July 1955 inviting him to visit their camp. Four girls from Leipzig, whose summer camp carried the “Täve Schur” name, wrote on 27 July 1955 to thank him for allowing their camp to carry his name. Accompanying the letter was a photograph of the visit of the Volkspolizei to their camp. They combined this official report with casual conversation about their bicycle trips to the zoo, excursions to movie

117 118

Nachlass Schur. Ibid.

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theaters, and afternoons swimming. They also sent him some of their artwork.119 Individual East Germans also wrote to Schur. Some letters featured strong formulaic language, raising the possibility that they were written individually but under a teacher’s supervision. For example, 13-year-old seventh-grader Wolfgang was a student at a special boarding school for promising youth athletes and was active in the Dynamo sports club, reserved for youth being groomed for competitive sports. His letter began very casually and indeed personally, proclaiming that he played handball and that, “I think since we are both athletes we can address each other with ‘Du.’” He then expressed how great life was in the GDR and gave an official-sounding narrative of his family, noting that he was a child of the working class whose father died in the war and whose mother worked in a sugar factory. He added that he played handball and trained everyday. He also noted that he read the Schur biography Our World Champion and asked for a signed photograph.120 Most letters written by individual children did not feature ideological pronouncements. Typical was a letter from young Brigitte. She explained that she had first sent a letter to Leipzig, because she had seen a photograph of Schur building the Zentralstadion and had falsely assumed he lived in Leipzig. Now she was happy that she had Schur’s correct address and could send her letter there. She told him that she had hurt her knee when cycling but that it helped her to know that he also hurt himself at times and yet continued to ride. Eleven-year-old Gabrielle wrote in a letter dated 17 June 1955 that she had seen him when he passed through her town of Buchholz during the Friedensfahrt and expressed her hopes that if Buchholz was on the route next year, he would come to her house and drink a beer at the restaurant owned by her family. Young Ursula from Salzwedel wrote on 15 June 1955 that she had seen him pass through the town. She sent her picture and requested a letter from him, adding: “Dear Täve Schur, I like you so much that you could be my brother.” Second grader Evi Funke from Kirchberg wrote that she sat by the radio during the Friedensfahrt and pressed her thumbs for him. Likewise 12-year-old Petra from Leipzig, a sixth grader, wrote on 16 May 1955 that she was a true fan of cycling who listened to radio reports every night. Very charming was

119 120

Ibid. Ibid.

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a letter from 6-year-old Gernot, who wished Schur a happy birthday and proclaimed that he had the same birthday. Gernot admitted: “I don’t go to school yet, so Papi is writing on my behalf.” What connects these letters is that the writers all use a personal rather than a political framework to relate to Schur—viewing him as a brother or potential family guest, and personally identifying with his injuries and with his date of birth.121 Individual women wrote the majority of the private letters to Schur, many hoping to meet him. The majority enclosed pictures of themselves or some of the many pictures of Schur that were for sale, asking him to sign and return them. Renate from Dresden wrote on 23 May 1954 congratulating him on his 24th place finish, requesting a photo with signature, and enclosing 2 DM for return postage. Her letter, written before Schur’s 1955 victory and the subsequent media adulation, provides particularly strong evidence of the grassroots interest in Täve Schur. Helga from Berlin wrote on 28 September 1955, enclosing her photograph and requesting an autographed photograph from him in return. She suggestively assured him that she was not a shy and innocent child but rather an experienced woman. Erika from Erfurt sent a photograph of herself and told him that she followed all of his races on the radio. Christel enclosed a photograph, dedicated to him in honor of his 1955 Friedensfahrt victory, of herself in pointe shoes and a ballerina tutu. Some became quite obsessed with Schur. Karin from Magdeburg, who wrote her fourth letter on 23 June 1956, expressed anger that he had not responded to her previous letters and “warned” him that she would not forgive him if he did not contact her soon.122 Some young women even recorded their affection for Täve Schur in their private diaries. Irmgard Franz, then in the tenth grade, wrote in her diary for 21 May 1954 that her friend Ulla liked a different cyclist, but that she personally preferred Schur as the “object of her affections.” She noted the date of Schur’s birthday, 23 February 1931, and then pasted into her diary a small photograph of Schur that she had cut out from the Free German Youth publication, Junge Welt.123 Ibid. Ibid. 123 The diary is in the personal possession of Irmgard Andra, neé Franz, who now lives in Dessau. She traveled to Kleinmühlingen on 21 May 2005, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Schur’s victory in the 1955 Friedensfahrt, and she brought along her 1954 diary in order to share with others the entry from 21 May 1954. When she heard that an American scholar with an interest in the Friedensfahrt was present, she decided to show me her diary, too. 121 122

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Many of Schur’s fans were not East German citizens, but rather ethnic Germans living in non-German countries. From London, Ingrid sent a provocative photograph of herself wearing a swimsuit and stretched out on a car. Susi, from Silesia, a German region of Poland, wrote that she cheered for him when he was on Polish soil. Ursel also wrote from Poland, wondering if Schur could find a cyclist with a little sister who could be her pen pal. Gudrun and Renate wrote from Poland and enclosed clovers to bring him luck. They added that they planned to travel to his hometown of Heyrothsberge the following month and quite presumptively requested that he help them find lodging. Beate, also from Poland, requested photographs of Schur; she apologized that she could not send a stamped return envelope because she did not have access to East German stamps in Poland.124 Schur also received a number of letters from West Germany. These letters reveal how fluid German borders remained in the 1950s. Many citizens from the East emigrated West, and citizens from the West could travel easily to the East. Some teenage girls had developed enthusiasm for the Friedensfahrt while living in the GDR as East German citizens, and when their families emigrated to West Germany, they took their enthusiasm with them. Bärbel wrote in 1954 to congratulate Schur on a successful season; she had followed the Friedensfahrt when she lived in the East German city of Halle and remained a fan even though the event was not well covered in the West. Fifteen-year-old Doris, also originally from East Germany, said that she had 103 pictures of Schur in books but no individual pictures because individual postcards were not available for sale in West Germany; she thus requested that Schur send her a photograph. Other West German fans had never lived as East German citizens but had discovered the Friedensfahrt when traveling in East Germany. Erika from Lindau on the Bodensee wrote that she had traveled to Leipzig for a family vacation. She discovered the Friedensfahrt while there and became a fan of the event and of Täve Schur.125 These letters reveal the widespread popularity of the Friedensfahrt and of Täve Schur even among people not privy to the onslaught of East German state media coverage. In many ways, Schur transcended the East German society that celebrated him. It was precisely this popularity that made him such an effective tool for East German propaganda organs.

124 125

Nachlass Schur. Ibid.

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Letters to Täve Schur, some written by people not even living in East Germany, demonstrate that despite how carefully the government and media constructed Schur as a socialist role model, his popularity at the grassroots was not merely the result of successful propaganda, but also due to the general attraction so many citizens felt towards Täve Schur as an athlete, as a man, and as a personality. Indeed, both interviews and letters reveal that many citizens underplayed the socialist context of the Schur phenomenon and approached him in personal and individual terms. Most women’s letters were about Täve the man, not Täve the East German socialist hero. Likewise, children clearly identified with him in primarily familial, friendly, and personal terms. Even non-East Germans responded to his athletic achievements, handsome appearance, and general demeanor.126 The government and media certainly set the tone for the heroization of Schur as an athlete committed to socialism and carried to greatness through the advantages of East German socialism; some correspondence to Schur and some oral history interviews reveal the clear influence of the official Schur narrative. Nonetheless, Täve Schur was far more than just an empty propaganda construct forced on the population. People’s memories of Schur—and the thousands of personal letters addressed to him in the 1950s—reveal that he was genuinely popular at the grassroots level. It was perhaps the very strength of this popularity that influenced the government and media to transform Schur into a socialist role model. Just as with the Friedensfahrt as a whole, Täve Schur was an athlete and East German citizen who simultaneously represented the ideal attributes the government wished for its citizens while also capturing the imagination and admiration of countless East German citizens.

126 This evidence directly contradicts Pamela Fisher’s contention, based on interviewing former East Germans currently active in the Party of Democratic Socialism, that enthusiasm for the Friedensfahrt among former East Germans correlates directly with enthusiasm for socialism as a whole and an inability to criticize the East German state. As PDS members, these women were likely to express enthusiasm for socialism, independent of their attitude toward the Friedensfahrt. A broader cross-section of interviewees would have likely yielded a more ambiguous correlation between support for the Friedensfahrt and support for the East German government. See Pamela Fischer, “Creating a Marxist-Leninist Cultural Identity: Women’s Memories of the German Democratic Republic’s Friedensfahrt” Culture, Sport, Society 5, no. 1 (2002): 39–52.

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Conclusion The Friedensfahrt performed important functions in the 1950s in East Germany. As with all international athletic competitions in which the GDR participated and attained success, it helped East Germany gain the symbolic recognition as an autonomous state that eluded it in most diplomatic settings. It also gave the GDR the chance to prove its strength as a state through athletic victories. Just as important was the domestic significance of the Friedensfahrt. Responding in part to the outpouring of pride after the East German team victory in 1953, sports organizers and political leaders stepped up efforts to make the competition the center of nationwide mass mobilization campaigns. They used the Friedensfahrt to foster a socialist form of spectatorship that cultivated active participation rather than the passive consumption of sports spectacles, encouraging citizens to spend the weeks preceding the Friedensfahrt producing gifts and souvenirs and writing letters. Once the event began, they asked citizens to experience the event in “shared locales,” by turning out en masse along the route, by listening to the event on the radio with fellow workers and schoolmates, and by participating in mass cycling events themselves. Through such participation, it was hoped that citizens would develop a collective identification with each other, with the East German team, and by extension with the East German state. Political and sports leaders also encouraged citizens to see the heroes of the Friedensfahrt, especially Täve Schur, as socialist role models and as the products of a successful socialist economic and political system. In turn, citizens would emulate Schur’s virtues, among them a commitment to the collective, and would also become more proud of their country, a country that allowed natural talent such as that of Schur the opportunity to thrive. Countless East German citizens responded to mass mobilization campaigns and participated in the events surrounding the Friedensfahrt, not only by taking part in required work- and school-based activities, but also by traveling to the route to watch the cyclists go by and writing letters to the champion Täve Schur. In part these were obligatory responses to exhortations by mass organizations, enterprises, and schools, but they were also expressions of genuine interest in and enthusiasm for the event and its stars. In the end, the Friedensfahrt phenomenon—and internationally competitive sports in general—became, in the words of

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novelist Uwe Johnson, a space where “the love of the public and the strategies of the administration unexpectedly [met].”127 An analysis of international athletic competitions such as the Friedensfahrt within the context of the SED’s domestic and international political goals enhances understanding of how the SED used both participatory and spectator sports to draw citizens out of their homes and into public spaces, where they engaged collectively in the activities and civic culture of their new socialist state. As with pursuit of the BAV Sports Medal, contribution to a voluntary work action, or participation in the Gymnastics and Sports Festivals, citizens had wide array of individual and communal motivations in supporting the Friedensfahrt. In the end, state and citizens worked together to create an event that went beyond being an athletic contest to become a true mass phenomenon in the GDR. The Friedensfahrt of the 1950s also foreshadowed East German sports culture of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, when the East German government would dramatically step up its efforts to cultivate successful athletes and pursue the winning of Olympic gold medals.

127

Cited in Hartmann, 287.

EPILOGUE The 1950s was the formative decade of the East German government’s efforts to establish legitimacy and build a socialist polity, economy, society, and culture. Sports became a key component of the government’s efforts to “build socialism,” in part due to their long-standing popularity at the grassroots. The government—led by enthusiastic athlete and leader Walter Ulbricht—used sports to mobilize the population, cultivate work productivity and paramilitary skills, foster socialist community, and promote East German patriotism. The East German government saw sports as a vehicle to transform each and every East German into a new socialist citizen; it pursued this transformation with optimism and enthusiasm. In addition to emphasizing mass sports for the general population, the SED’s Central Committee had begun to take preliminary steps in the 1950s to cultivate internationally successful athletes, not only through orchestrating the Friedensfahrt, but also by opening the first Children’s and Youth Sports Schools (Kinder- und Jugendsportschulen) in East Berlin, Halberstadt, Brandenburg, and Leipzig in 19521 and by founding the first Sports Clubs (SCs) to train exceptional athletes in 1954. These clubs soon became the focus of East German elite sports, with twentyone clubs in place by 1955; Täve Schur and his Friedensfahrt teammates trained with the SC DHfK (Deutsche Hochschule für Körperkultur).2 Alongside these measures to promote athletic achievement, the regular East German citizen, not destined for athletic greatness, remained at the center of East German efforts to promote athleticism in the 1950s. However, this commitment to mass sports would decline in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, as international athletic victories became the state’s top priority. 1 Frank Reichelt and Andreas Korte, “Kinder- und Jugendsportschulen (KJS) der DDR in den 50er und 60er Jahren,” in Aktionsfelder des DDR-Sports in der Frühzeit 1945–1965, ed. Wolfgang Buss and Christian Becker (Cologne: Sport und Buch Strauss, 2001), 236. See also David Childs, “The German Democratic Republic,” in Sport under Communism: The U.S.S.R., Czechoslovakia, The G.D.R., China, Cuba, ed. James Riordan (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1978), 77–78. 2 Frank Reichelt, “Die Sportclubs (SC) des DTSB der DDR—Entstehung und Entwicklung in den fünfziger und sechziger Jahren,” in Aktionsfelder des DDR-Sports, 202, 211.

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Beginning in the 1960s, especially as East Germany increasingly abandoned its rhetoric of German reunification in the aftermath of the construction of the Berlin Wall, the East German government strongly enhanced its programs to cultivate elite athletes as its representatives in the international arena. Although East German athletes continued to participate in the Friedensfahrt and in countless world championships in multiple sports, the chief focus of East German political and sports leaders soon narrowed to the Olympic Games, the world’s most prominent athletic stage. Among the key innovations was the introduction of the Spartakiaden in 1965. The Spartakiaden were sports competitions designed only for children and teenagers and only for Olympic sports that consisted of yearly qualification rounds in kindergartens, schools, neighborhoods, and towns, followed by county championships and biannual regional and national championships. In contrast, the Gymnastics and Sports Festivals were designed for all age groups, including adults, featured competitions in non-Olympic sports, and incorporated popular non-competitive games designed for mass appeal. The primary goal of the Spartakiaden was, in the words of the SED’s Secretary for Achievement Sports (Leistungssport), the “urgent expansion of the foundation for Olympic sports.”3 The Spartakiaden discovered talented young athletes and became “the first step towards a nearly flawless system of talent search and training, with which the East German athletic establishment, in its hunt for Olympic laurels, compensated for its small population.”4 The search for talented young athletes took another step forward in 1967 when researchers at the German College for Physical Culture devised a chart that pinpointed physical characteristics in children that made them likely to attain athletic success in a range of sports. Based on this chart, sports organizers began weighing and measuring schoolchildren throughout the GDR to predict their future abilities. This process became formalized in 1973 when the Ministry for Education and the DTSB joined together to establish a plan known as ESA, or “Einheitliche Sichtung und Auswahl für die Trainingszentren und Trainingsstützpunkte des DTSB der DDR” (Coordinated Inspection

3 Stiftung Archiv der Parteien und Massenorganisationen der DDR im Bundesarchiv, DY 30 IV A2/18 39, “Präsidiumsvorlage Nr. 4/6/65, Betr. Nichtaufnahme der nichtolympischen Sportverbände in das Programm der Spartakiaden.” 4 Grit Hartmann, Goldkinder: Die DDR im Spiegel ihres Spitzensportes (Leipzig: Forum Verlag, 1997), 100.

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and Selection for the Training Centers of the DTSB of the GDR). This plan sought to determine potential athletic success by testing and measuring all first and third graders in the GDR. Young people identified as promising athletes gained access to special training centers and sports schools to train full time for future Olympic glory.5 East German athletes soon dominated in the Olympic Games. In the 1968 Summer Games, the first Olympics in which the IOC allowed East German athletes to compete for their own team (albeit with the same neutral flag and anthem as West Germany), the GDR finished fifth in the medal count, ahead of West Germany’s eighth place finish. By the 1972 Summer Games, East Germany finished in third place behind the Soviet Union and the United States. In the 1976 and 1980 Summer Games, East Germany finished second to the Soviet Union in the overall medal count.6 By 1988, the last Olympics in which East Germany competed, it finished second in both the Winter and Summer Games.7 Throughout these years, the GDR increasingly defined itself as a medal collective (Medaillenkollektiv). In this collective, it claimed, all citizens had access to extensive sports activities, and the East German Olympic achievements of successful athletes were proof of the superior opportunities that socialism provided to all.8 The government also continued to take extensive efforts to involve ordinary East Germans in its international athletic successes, just as it had begun with the Friedensfahrt in the 1950s. The “Society for the Promotion of the Olympic Idea,” founded on 1 February 1960, highlights the continued symbolic connection between mass participatory sports and achievement sports. The Society’s initial goal was to support the petition of East Germany’s National Olympic Committee to gain permission for the GDR to

5 Hartmann, 114. For a profile of one former sports school student, see John Rodden, Repainting the Little Red Schoolhouse: A History of Eastern German Education, 1945–1995 (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), 275–285. Anke Delow also analyzes the biographies of elite athletes in Leistungssport und Biographie. DDR-Leistungssportler der letzten Generation und ihr schwieriger Weg in die Moderne (Münster: Lit Verlag, 2000). 6 Gunter Holzweissig, Diplomatie im Trainingsanzug: Sport als politisches Instrument der DDR in den innerdeutschen und internationalen Beziehungen (Munich and Vienna: Oldenbourg, 1981), 188–190. 7 For more on East Germany’s cultivation of Olympic gold, particularly in the 1980s, see Hans Joachim Teichler and Klaus Reinartz, Das Leistungssportsystem der DDR in den 80er Jahren und im Prozeß der Wende (Schorndorf: Hofmann, 1999). 8 See Willi Ph. Knecht, Das Medaillenkollektiv: Fakten, Dokumente, Kommentare zum Sport in der DDR (Berlin: Holzapfel, 1978).

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compete with its own Olympic team. After the International Olympic Committee permitted the GDR to do so in 1968, the Society turned its attention to a general promotion of both Olympic and everyday sports. It published books, organized exhibits and lectures, and raised money through lotteries, donations, and the sale of Olympic memorabilia. It also sponsored special campaigns such as the 1975 campaign “Give Your Heart to Sports” (Dein Herz dem Sport). The campaign promoted various strategies through which one could demonstrate that he or she had a “heart for sports.” Citizens could work on behalf of their own health by engaging in regular physical activity and could also raise money to send East German athletes to the Olympic Games.9 As of 1972, the Society generated between 2.5 and 3 million DM a year in income. After 1980, the Society financed the outfitting and transportation of the East German Olympic team.10 Such campaigns, which framed winning Olympic Gold as not merely a task for athletes, coaches, and researchers, but also for each and every citizen of East Germany, were integral to East Germany’s vision of itself as a medal collective. All citizens collectively helped East German athletes pursue Olympic gold, and all could therefore take pride in the successes that East German athletes achieved. Yet the primary goal of the medal collective, in contrast to the mobilization campaigns of the 1950s, was the winning of gold medals, not fitness for everybody. Citizens functioned primarily as fundraisers and spectators, not as participants. Indeed, the increasing government focus on international sports contributed to a growing gap between the government support available for international sports and for mass sports programs.11

9 Sportmuseum Leipzig-Dokumente, D 2253, “Dein Herz dem Sport!” Gesellschaft zur Förderung des Olympischen Gedankens in der DDR, 1975. 10 “Gesellschaft zur Förderung des olympischen Gedankens in der DDR,” in So funktionierte die DDR: Band I, Lexicon der Organisationen und Institutionen, ed. Andreas Herbst, Winfried Ranke, Jürgen Winkler (Berlin: Rowohlt, 1994), 355–358. 11 The increasing Olympic focus also led to the development of anabolic steroids, administered as “vitamins” to unsuspecting young athletes at the special sports schools. The GDR’s use of “doping” to enhance the abilities of its Olympians has been welldocumented. See Hartmann, Goldkinder; Brigitte Berendonk, Doping: Von der Forschung zum Betrug (Berlin: Rowohlt, 1992); Giselher Spitzer, Doping in der DDR. Ein historischer Überblick zu einer konspirativen Praxis. Genese —Verantwortung —Gefahren (Cologne: Sport und Buch Strauss, 2000); Steven Ungerleider, Faust’s Gold: Inside the East German Doping Machine (New York: Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press, 2001); and Giselher Spitzer, Sicherungsvorgang Sport. Das Ministerium für Staatssicherheit und der DDR-Spitzensport (Schorndorf: Hofmann, 2005).

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In particular, the GDR’s prioritization of the Olympics negatively affected opportunities for the many citizens who played non-Olympic sports. For these athletes, the SED’s 1969 Resolution on Achievement Sports (Leistungssportbeschluss) dealt a critical blow. This resolution emphasized that international athletic successes demonstrated the “international authority and reputation” that the GDR increasingly commanded, and set finishing second to the Soviet Union in the 1980 Olympic Games as a state goal.12 To this end, the resolution announced the cessation of funding for team sports such as field hockey and basketball that were expensive and for which only one Olympic medal was available.13 Ironically, then, the socialist East German government committed itself to sports such as swimming where individual athletes could win multiple medals, and it downgraded the team sports that were presumably more in keeping with the collective ethos that socialism espoused. Leaders were also concerned that East Germany was too far behind world elite status in these expensive team sports, thereby further justifying the decision not to devote scarce resources to their support.14 The ramifications of the 1969 Resolution on Achievement Sports were severe. Athletes in affected sports could continue playing at the BSG level, but the state disbanded the competitive training centers, which sounded a death knell to the further growth of these sports, removed these sports from the national Spartakiade program, and prohibited matches between East German and international teams.15 In an oral history interview in 1999, field hockey player Werner Holtzschke remembered his anger at having to tell the parents of children who played hockey in BSG Einheit Zentrum Leipzig that they could not participate in the national Spartakiaden anymore, nor have any hope of one day pursuing their sport at the international level. Holtschke showed his DTSB identification card, printed with the DTSB’s official

12 “Grundlinie der Entwicklung des Leistungssportes in der DDR bis 1980, 19.03.1969,” in Die Sportbeschlüsse des Politbüros: Eine Studie zum Verhältnis von SED und Sport mit einem Gesamtverzeichnis und einer Dokumentation ausgewählter Beschlüsse, ed. Hans Joachim Teichler (Cologne: Sport und Buch Strauss, 2002), 564. 13 Ibid., 561. 14 “‘SED-Haushaltsmitteilung,’ Hellmann an Honecker zur ‘Grundlinie der Entwicklung des Leistungssportes in der DDR bis 1980,’ ” in Schlüsseldokumente zum DDR-Sport: Ein sporthistorischer Überblick in Originalquellen, ed. Giselher Spitzer, Hans Joachim Teichler, and Klaus Reinartz (Aachen: Meyer und Meyer, 1998), 151. 15 Hartmann, 112.

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statute that promised that all East Germans could play sports according to their abilities and preferences. He angrily stated that East Germany violated its own DTSB statute with its Resolution on Achievement Sports.16 His teammate Hans-Dietrich Sasse, who played on the joint German Olympic team in field hockey in 1964 and the East German team in 1968, likewise expressed frustration. He noted that the Hockey Federation sponsored its own national competition, commonly calling it a Spartakiade, although it was not part of the official national Spartakiade in which children and youth who played other sports competed.17 As Holtzschke’s and Sasse’s experiences reveal, some citizens directly lost opportunities as a result of East Germany’s decision to divert all resources towards winning Olympic Gold. Less dramatic, but no less problematic, was the gap that widened between increased spending on internationally competitive athletes and decreased spending on mass sports, especially by the 1980s. As Jonathan Grix has written, “The impressive upward trajectory of GDR sport . . . went hand in hand with the decline in standards of facilities and availability of equipment for the masses.”18 Particularly problematic was the scarcity of footwear, including running shoes. Many citizens wrote letters of complaint (Eingaben) to the government, confronting it with the contradiction between its encouragement of mass sports such as jogging and the dearth of shoes, and sometimes even directly pointing out the disproportionate financial support of achievement sports compared with mass sports.19 It was not only in the era of Olympic success that East Germans publicly voiced complaints. Citizens were certainly capable of complaining about inequities even in the optimistic years of the 1950s, as, for example, Chapter 4 of this study has shown. But in that period, when the significant gap between mass and achievement sports was not yet present, the state had little problem generating a genuine enthusiasm among most people at the opportunity now presented for them to participate in mass sporting competitions. This was one important piece of a socialist experiment at its most idealistic and utopian stage, when former Arbeitersportler Walter Ulbricht and sports leaders worked to

16 Werner Holtzschke, interview by Molly Wilkinson Johnson (hereafter author), Leipzig, Germany, 10 July 1999. 17 Hans-Dietrich Sasse, interview by author, Leipzig, Germany, 11 July 1999. 18 Jonathan Grix, “The Decline of Mass Sport Provision in the German Democratic Republic,” The International Journal of the History of Sport 25, no. 4 (March 2008): 406. 19 Ibid., 410–415.

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transform individual East Germans into new socialist citizens. Following the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961 and the solidification of the German-German division, the government became more focused on ensuring compliance in the present and on gaining international recognition than on constructing a better future for its citizens. The story of the East German government’s promotion of sports in the 1950s sheds light on the strengths of the new government, particularly its vision for transforming its citizens, but also on its limitations in meeting political and social goals and financial needs and desires. In considering these accomplishments and shortcomings, it also provides important context for the state’s later pursuit of Olympic gold. The study of mass sports in the 1950s thus illuminates the broader, complex history of the East German dictatorship.

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INDEX 1950s, particularities as a decade in East German history, 4–5, 16, 25–26, 28–29, 33, 35–36, 38, 86, 92–93, 95, 96, 108, 109, 111, 135, 139, 147, 150–151, 165–167, 172, 176, 177, 187, 193–194, 199–200, 201–202, 203, 206, 208–209 Agricultural Production Cooperative (LPG), 86, 87, 179 Allied Control Commission: and Directive 23, 49 and Law Number 2, 48 Antifascism, 13, 26–27, 35, 38, 40–41, 42, 45–48, 56–57, 64, 144, 187 Arbeitersport, 18–23, 35, 38–47, 54–58, 64, 119, 208 Automobile, 10, 120–121, 153–154, 177, 183, 191 Battle of the Nations Memorial, 37, 121, 142, 150, 156, 161 BAV Sports Medal, 2, 10, 27, 68, 70, 75–77, 85, 88, 89, 91, 95, 101, 103, 104–105, 108, 141, 178, 184, 202 and paramilitarism, 77–79 and work productivity, 80–84 citizen motivations for earning, 12, 98–100 introduction of, 61 statistics about, 98–99 Beckenbauer, Franz, 193 Belgium, 171, 190 Benedix, Georg, 43, 46–47, 144 Berlin Wall, 1, 4, 5, 6, 134, 162, 204, 209 Berliner Zeitung, 134 Betriebssportgemeinschaften. See BSGs. Brando, Marlon, 189 Brigades, 91, 115, 122, 123, 178, 180, 190, 194, 195 Brownell, Susan, 145, 173 BSGs (Betriebssportgemeinschaften [enterprise sports clubs]), 2, 9, 12, 27, 68, 74, 84–91, 95, 97, 101, 104, 125, 127, 131, 133, 138, 160, 177, 178, 184, 207 as compared with Verein, 73, 98 democratic centralism and, 62–64

examples of specific BSGs, 60–61, 63, 66–68, 87, 91, 97, 111, 115, 120, 127, 128, 130, 141, 160, 161, 182 introduction of, 47, 58, 59–61 Buchenwald Memorial, 111 Building socialism, as state goal, 3–5, 9, 12, 65, 69–70, 76, 78, 110, 137, 169 See also Participation and Mass Mobilization and Mass Mobilization Campaigns. CDU. See Christian Democratic Union. Central Committee of the Socialist Unity Party, 25, 38, 61, 63, 107, 109, 203 See also Socialist Unity Party and Walter Ulbricht. Children’s and Youth Sports Schools (Kinder- und Jugendsportschulen), 203 China, 15, 145, 173 Choreographed unity, 9, 28, 143 Christian Democratic Union, 50, 51, 54–55 communal sports, era of, 49 Communist Party of Germany (KPD), 22–23, 50, 55 Coubertin, Pierre de, 70 Cycling. See Friedensfahrt. Czechoslovakia, 67, 165, 167, 173, 181 See also East European Satellite States. DEFA, 84, 138 Democratic centralism, 9, 27, 63–64, 66, 69, 70, 78, 84, 92, 97, 104, 149 Denazification, 48–49 Diem, Carl, 40 Diplomats in track suits, East German athletes as, 166 Doping, 1, 5, 91 DS. See German Sports Association. DTSB. See German Gymnastics and Sports Federation. East European satellite states, 15, 33, 144 Eckstein, Bernhard, 190

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Economic problems decline in state support for mass sports, 5, 203, 206–209 shortages, 11, 27, 28, 93, 109, 112, 128, 136, 159, 163 See also Food. Edelman, Robert, 137, 172 Eigen-Sinn, 8, 10, 11 Emigration, from East Germany to West Germany, 4, 6, 33, 101, 139, 188 Enterprise sports clubs. See BSGs. Enterprises: as “people’s owned enterprises” (Volkseigene Betriebe [VEB]), 49 examples of specific VEBs, 60, 68, 83, 84, 91, 97, 114, 141, 174, 178, 190, 194, 195 role of in GDR, 59–60 support for and involvement in sports, 60–61, 74, 83–84, 86, 89–90, 98, 102, 115, 123, 141, 160, 174, 176–179, 181–182, 194–195, 201 ESA (Einheitliche Sichtung und Auswahl für die Trainingszentren und Trainingsstützpunkte des DTSB der DDR), 204–205 FDGB. See Federation of Free German Trade Unions. Federation of Free German Trade Unions (FDGB), 49, 53, 55, 58, 87, 125 “Victory Over One’s Self ” brochure, 65–68 Fighting Society for Red Sports Unity (Kampfgemeinschaft für rote Sporteinheit), 22–23, 39, 45, 48, 56–57 Food, 28, 136, 156–159, 163, 191 France, 16, 48, 70, 137, 165, 171 Free German Youth (FDJ), 49, 53, 55, 156, 161–162, 180, 192 Friedensfahrt (Ride of Peace), 3, 5, 10, 28, 94, 165–167, 171, 190–191, 193, 200, 201–202, 203–205 citizen enthusiasm for, 167–169, 175–178, 193 civic pride, 181–182 corollary activities for school children and workers, 178–183 corollary competitive and non-competitive sports activities, 183–184 oral history interviews about, 166n4, 167, 175, 176, 177, 193

socialist conceptions of participatory spectatorship, 171–175, 201 walls of people on route, 172–178, 201 work productivity, 178–180, 189–190, 195 See also Gustav-Adolf Schur. Fulbrook, Mary, 8, 33 German Association for Physical Education (Deutscher Reichausschuss für Leibesübungen), 19–20 German College for Physical Culture, 61, 81, 83, 88, 192, 204 German Gymnastics and Sports Federation (Deutscher Turn- und Sportbund [DTSB]), 25, 62–63, 74, 76, 86, 126, 184, 191–192, 195, 204–205, 207–208 German Gymnastics Festival (1863), 17, 42, 44, 119 German Gymnasts Association (Deutsche Turnerschaft), 17, 18, 20, 21, 23 German Sports Association (Deutscher Sportausschuss [DS]), 47, 55, 59, 62, 73–74 Great Britain, 15, 48 Grieder, Peter, 56 Gries, Rainer, 187 Grix, Jonathan, 208 Gymnastics and Sports Festivals (Deutsche Turn- und Sportfeste), 3, 9, 11, 28, 36, 46, 61 as “German,” 5, 36, 135, 139, 150–151, 166 ceremonies and parades, 37, 42, 43, 135, 138, 142, 149–151, 155, 162 changed to “of the GDR,” 36, 162 Institute for Physical Education, Halle, 161 mass mobilization, 137–142 oral history interviews about, 136, 140, 148–149, 150, 151–152, 157 Organizational Bureau, 36, 124, 138, 139, 140, 145, 156, 160 problems with youth, 161–163 SED files on citizen reactions, 154–159 West German visitors, 37, 38, 41, 42, 135, 136, 138–140, 150–151, 152–159, 166 See also Osttribüne and Sports Shows. Gymnastics breaks, 82–84, 141 See also Work Productivity.

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229

Hartmann, Grit, 168, 174, 184 Hellwig, Reinhard, 55 Hennecke, Adolf, 187 Hermannsdenkmal, 112 Heroes, socialist. See Gustav-Adolf Schur.

sports, 10, 67, 88–91, 100, 141, 168 See also BAV Sports Medal. Militarization of society in GDR, 71–72, 149 Ministry for State Security, 1, 6, 6n10, 174

International Workers’ Day, 74, 94, 175 International Workers’ Olympiads, 20, 39, 139 Italy, 4, 14, 171

national anthem and flag of East Germany, 1, 135, 170, 205 National Building Corps (Nationales Aufbauwerk), 111, 126, 132–133 National identity, East Germany, 1, 4–5 National People’s Army, 62, 76, 79, 98, 149 National Socialism, 4, 9, 13, 14, 16, 35, 40, 46, 48–49, 52–54, 56–57, 59, 63, 64, 71, 85, 96, 102, 112, 119, 144 coordination of sports clubs, 3, 17, 22–24, 48, 52–54, 73 Day of German Labor, 137 discrimination against Jewish athletes, 22–24 discrimination against working-class sports clubs, 23–24, 64, 73 Hitler, 24, 71, 112 Hitler Youth, 96 Holocaust, 41, 48 militarization, 3, 53 National Socialist League for Physical Education (Nationalsozialistischer Reichsbund für Leibesübungen, NSRL), 23, 48 Olympic Games, 24–25, 40, 41, 144, 168 sports festivals, 24, 144 “Strength through Joy,” 23, 25, 41, 73 Winter Aid, 112 See also Antifascism and Denazification. Nazi Germany. See National Socialism. Neues Deutschland, 107, 111, 150

Jahn, Friedrich Ludwig, 16, 39, 43, 44–45, 70 See also Turnen. Jähn, Sigmund, 187 Johnson, Uwe, 188, 202 Keys, Barbara, 171 Klessmann, Christoph, 4 Klimanschewsky, Adolf, 188 Knecht, Willi, 187, 192 Kopstein, Jeffrey, 163 Kotkin, Stephen, 115, 123 KPD. See Communist Party of Germany. LDP. See Liberal Democratic Party. Legitimacy, 4, 6, 28, 31, 33, 35, 36, 41, 103, 111–113, 119, 144, 145, 167–171, 203 celebration of German history as strategy to obtain, 31–35, 35–47 Leipziger Volkszeitung, 117–118, 121, 161 Liberal Democratic Party, 50, 51, 52–55, 57, 59, 95 Lüdtke, Alf, 8 Machine Tractor Stations (MTS), 86, 115, 195 Magnitogorsk, 115 Mählert, Ulrich, 74 Marschner, Paul, 86 Mass mobilization and mass mobilization campaigns, 2, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11, 13, 16, 25, 27–28, 65, 66, 69, 71, 74–76, 85–97, 104–105, 109–113, 117, 120, 121, 124, 135, 137–142, 160, 162, 166, 170–172, 175, 178, 181–183, 185, 201, 203, 206 Massenwaldlauf, 63, 66–68, 82, 85–86, 88–90, 92, 94, 96, 141 Medal collective, GDR as a, 205–206 Medals, as incentives for participation in

Olympic Games, 15, 20, 25, 67, 70, 118, 170–171, 172, 193 East German quest for recognition by International Olympic Committee, 169–170, 205 East German victories in, 1, 2, 3, 28–29, 167, 169, 186–187, 204–209 National Socialism, 24–25, 41, 144, 168 Society for the Promotion of the Olympic Idea, 205–26

230

index

Open letter of Arbeitersportler, 56, 57, 58 Oral history interviews: as sources, 26, 92, 98 celebration of sports history, 31, 43 everyday sports, 68–69, 73, 75, 77, 83, 89, 91, 95–105 Friedensfahrt, 166n4, 167, 175, 176, 177, 193 Gymnastics and Sports Festivals, 136, 140, 148–149, 150, 151–152, 157 reconstruction of postwar sports, 47–48, 50–51, 60 voluntary work actions, 116–118, 123n58, 127–133 Ostalgie, 6, 7 Osttribüne, 135–136, 141, 142, 145, 147–152, 159–162, 189 See also Gymnastics and Sports Festivals and Sports Shows. Paramilitarism, 2, 13, 14, 27, 49, 61, 65, 70–72, 74, 77–82, 91, 95, 104, 122–123, 144, 149, 203 See also under BAV Sports Medal. Participation in sports: as state goal, 2, 3, 4, 9–10, 11–12, 13, 16, 27–28, 35, 64, 65–66, 68–69, 75–77, 80, 84, 85–92, 141, 183–184, 203–204, 208–209 citizens’ motivations for, 68–69, 92–105 See also Mass Mobilization and Mass Mobilization Campaigns. Partisanship/Parteilichkeit, 54 Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS), 7, 166, 192 People’s Chamber (Volkskammer), 192 Petrone, Karen, 137 Poland, 165, 167, 173, 181, 182, 199 See also East European Satellite States. Police, 9, 50, 61, 62, 79, 98, 111, 120, 122, 132, 149, 177 Politbüro, 142, 145 See also Central Committee of the Socialist Unity Party and Socialist Unity Party. Presley, Elvis, 189 Rabinbach, Anson, 14, 72, 80 Red Sport International, 39 Red Sports Pioneers, 45 Reichert, Rudi, 76, 85, 191 Republikflucht (“flight from the Republic”). See Emigration.

Riedeberger, Erich, 143 Rolf, Malte, 137, 144 Ross, Corey, 72 Rossbach, Norbert, 187 Saldern, Adelheid von, 143 Saxon Sports Days, 51 Schmeling, Max, 168, 193 Scholarly research on East Germany, 5, 6–9, 12, 25–26 Schur, Gustav-Adolf, 28, 165–167, 180, 183, 185–187, 192, 201, 202 citizen letters to, 165, 193, 194–200 cultivated as socialist role model, 165, 187–192 diary entry about, 198 letters from children and youth in schools, 195–197 letters from enterprises and brigades, 194–195 letters from individual children and youth, 176, 197–198 letters from individual women, 189, 198–199 letters from non-East Germans, 199 oral history interviews about, 193, 200 popularity with citizens, 189, 192–193, 200 See also Friedensfahrt. SED Resolution on Achievement Sports, 204, 207–208 SED. See Socialist Unity Party. Seelenbinder, Werner, 41, 44, 48 Social Democratic Party, 22, 23, 50, 55 Socialist competition, 122–124, 140 Socialist mass organization, as compared with the autonomous Verein, 59–60, 74, 97 Socialist patriotism, 26–27, 35, 36–38, 40, 42, 45, 47, 64, 119 Socialist Sport International, 39 Socialist Unity Party, 4–5, 11, 13, 33, 60, 80, 87, 107, 109, 134, 152, 166, 192 centralization and organization of sports, 3, 9, 16, 25, 35, 49–50, 55, 56–58, 59–64, 175 creation of, 50 debates with Liberal Democratic Party, 52–55, 95 files on Gymnastics and Sports Festivals, 113, 154–159 goals for sports, 2–3, 65, 126, 166, 168, 185, 187, 202, 203–204, 207

index role in crafting official historical narrative, 31–33, 35–36, 38, 44, 47 transformation into party of a “new type,” 55–56 See also Central Committee of the Socialist Unity Party, Politbüro, and Walter Ulbricht. Society for Sports and Technology (GST), 61, 79, 161–162 See also Paramilitarism. Soviet Military Administration, 49, 50, 51, 55 Soviet Occupation Zone, 33, 35, 47, 49, 51, 53 Soviet Union, 1, 2, 6, 14–15, 33–35, 36–40, 46, 48, 57, 73, 79, 112, 115, 137, 144–145, 157, 172, 186, 187, 205, 207 and Khrushchev, Nikita, 62, 76 and Stalin, Joseph, 14, 33 as model for East German sports and festivals, 9, 27, 32, 35, 47, 55, 58, 59–64, 75, 79, 137, 142, 144–145 Red Army, 33, 175 Stalinization process in SED Party, 55–56 Spartakiade, 204, 207–208 SPD. See Social Democratic Party. Sportforum, 107, 119, 121–122 Sports: and capitalist enterprises, 14, 72–73 and East German patriotism, 166, 203 and imperialism, 15 and liberal democracies, 14–16, 70 and national identity, 14–16 and Taylorism and science of sports, 14, 80–81 as social control, 4, 70, 72, 101–102 as spectacle, 21–22, 101, 165, 168, 177, 201 as used by dictatorships, 14–15 debates over competition, 19–20 importance of international competitions to East German government, 5, 28, 165–167, 168–169, 191, 201, 203–209 objective and universal nature, 170–171 Sports Associations (Sportvereinigungen [SVs]), 60–62, 143 SV Aktivist, 61, 146 SV Aufbau, 146

231

SV Dynamo, 61, 149 SV Einheit, 61 SV Empor, 87 SV Fortschritt, 61, 87 SV Medizin, 111, 128–129, 133 SV Motor, 87 SV Stahl, 76, 127 SV Traktor, 61, 63, 86, 93–94, 146 SV Vorwärts, 62, 122, 149 SV Wismut, 146 Sports Clubs (SCs), 203, 207 Sports Days for the Rural Population, 63, 86–88, 92–94, 96, 147 Sports facilities, 3, 10, 11, 22, 27, 46, 49, 50, 60, 72, 73, 93, 102, 107, 108, 109, 110, 111, 119, 125–129, 133, 208 Piesteritz swimming pool, 131–133 wartime destruction of, 47–48 See also Voluntary Work Actions and Zentralstadion. Sports Federations (Sportverbände), 62 Sports history in Germany, celebration of, 10, 26–27, 31–47, 118–120, 135, 139, 150–151, 166 Sports Medal. See BAV Sports Medal. Sports Shows, 135–136, 138, 141, 143–148, 153, 157, 159, 161, 189 See also Gymnastics and Sports Festivals and Osttribüne. Stalin. See under Soviet Union. Stalinallee, 111, 169 Stalinization. See under Soviet Union. Stasi. See Ministry for State Security. State Committee for Physical Culture and Sports, 9, 25, 45, 61, 62, 63, 78, 85, 110, 168, 171, 184 Strength through Joy. See under National Socialism. Subbotnik, 112, 115 See also Voluntary Work Actions. Teichler, Hans Joachim, 56 Tereschkova, Valentina, 187 Thälmann, Ernst, 40, 41, 46, 87, 187 Third Reich. See National Socialism. Tour de France, 165 Turnen, 3, 13, 16–21, 23, 31, 35, 39, 42–45, 70, 119, 143–144, 151 See also Friedrich Ludwig Jahn. Uhlig, Rolf, 81–82, 84, 103 Ulbricht, Walter, 2, 27, 36, 43, 46–47, 65, 68, 69–70, 76, 80, 91, 104, 109,

232

index

141–143, 145, 150–151, 186, 188, 203, 208 See also Central Committee of the Socialist Unity Party and Socialist Unity Party. Ullrich, Klaus, 188–189, 191 United States, 14, 15–16, 48, 205 Uprising of 17 June 1953, 77, 158, 159, 169 Vacations as sites for mass mobilization, 87–88 Verein tradition, 3, 12, 17–22, 31, 32, 35, 51–55, 56, 58, 59, 62, 63, 64, 74, 97–98, 102 Volkseigene Betriebe (People’s Owned Enterprises). See Enterprises. Voluntary work actions, 3, 10–12, 27–28, 107–108, 133–134, 160, 173, 179, 191, 202 as strategy to economize, 11, 109–110 as tool for mass mobilization, 110–111 citizen motivations for work on local facilities, 127–133 citizen motivations for work on Zentralstadion, 116–117 language and discourse, 115–116, 125–126, 128–129, 133 on local facilities, 125–133 oral history interviews, 116–118, 123n58, 127–133 state strategies to elicit work on Zentralstadion, 117–124 Zentralstadion as model example, 113–116 See also Zentralstadion. Walter, Fritz, 193 Weimar Republic, 14, 19–22, 35, 38–39, 43, 45, 50, 57, 63, 71, 72, 80, 119 Weitz, Eric, 58

West Germany, 54, 80, 107, 135, 136, 154, 155–156, 171, 189, 191, 199 as opponent of recognition of East Germany by international sports federations, 1, 61, 169–171, 205 as standard of comparison with East Germany, 4, 11, 33, 152–159, 163 East German criticism of, 40, 54 East German outreach efforts to, 5, 35–39, 41–42, 135–136, 138–140, 150–151, 152–159, 166 See also Emigration, Olympic Games, and under Gymnastics and Sports Festivals. Women and sports, 17–19, 20–21, 24, 44, 78–79 Wonneberger, Günther, 57 Wonneberger, Ingeburg, 88 Work productivity, 2, 13, 14, 27, 65, 70, 72–74, 77, 80, 104, 123, 160, 178, 203 See also under BAV Sports Medal. Worker-Gymnasts Federation (Arbeiter Turnerbund [ATB]), 18 Workers’ Gymnastics and Sports Federation (Arbeiter Turn und Sportbund [ATSB]), 20, 38, 39, 63 Workers’ Gymnastics and Sports Festival (1922), 20, 39, 43, 44, 119, 144 World War One, 16, 18, 19, 70, 96, 158 World War Two, 2, 31, 46, 47–48, 107, 144, 175, 190 Young Pioneers, 45, 79, 121, 180, 183, 195, 196 Youth Law, 61 Youth, as sources of disorder, 161–163 Zentralstadion (Central Stadium), 27, 107–108, 111, 113–117, 121–125, 135–136, 138, 145, 153, 155, 160, 175, 197 See also Voluntary Work Actions.

Studies in Central European Histories Edited by Thomas A. Brady, Jr. and Roger Chickering

5. Theibault, J.C. German Villages in Crisis. Rural Life in Hesse-Kassel and the Thirty Years War, 1580-1720. ISBN 0 391 03839 7 6. Wallace, P.G. Communities and Conflict in Early Modern Colmar 1571-1730. ISBN 0 391 03822 2 7. Usher Chrisman, M. Conflicting Visions of Reform. German Lay Propaganda Pamphlets, 1519-1530. ISBN 0 391 03944 x 8. Safley, T.M. Charity and Economy in the Orphanages of Early Modern Augsburg. ISBN 0 391 03983 0 9. Jackson, Jr., J.H. Migration and Urbanization in the Ruhr Valley, 1821-1914. ISBN 0 391 04033 2 10. Lapp, B. Revolution from the Right. Politics, Class and the Rise of Nazism in Saxony, 1919-1933. ISBN 0 391 04027 8 11. Scheck, R. Alfred von Tirpitz and German Right-Wing Politics, 1914-1930. ISBN 0 391 04043 x 12. Lovell Evans, E. Cross and the Ballot. Catholic Political Parties in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium and the Netherlands, 1785-1985. ISBN 0 391 04095 2 13. Anderson, A.D. On the Verge of War. International Relations and the Jülich-Kleve Succession Crises (1609-1614). ISBN 0 391 04092 8 14. Benz, E. Fertility, Wealth, and Politics in Three Southwest German Villages, 1650-1900. ISBN 0 391 04093 6 15. Bowman, W.D. Priest and Parish in Vienna, 1780-1880. ISBN 0 391 04094 4 16. Sun, R.C. Before the Enemy is Within Our Walls. Catholic Workers in Cologne, 18851912: A Social, Cultural and Political History. ISBN 0 391 04096 0 17. Büsch, O. Military System and Social Life in Old Regime Prussia, 1713-1807. The Beginnings of the Social Militarization of Prusso-German Society. Transl. by J.G. Gagliardo. ISBN 0 391 03984 9 18. Sondhaus, L. Franz Conrad von Hötzendorf. Architect of the Apocalypse. ISBN 0 391 04097 9 19. Patrouch, J.F. Negotiated Settlement. The Counter-Reformation in Upper Austria under the Habsburgs. ISBN 0 391 04099 5 20. Haude, S. In the Shadow of “Savage Wolves”. Anabaptist Münster and the German Reformation during the 1530s. ISBN 0 391 04100 2 21. Caldwell, P.C. & Scheuerman, W.E. From Liberal Democracy to Fascism. Legal and Political Thought in the Weimar Republic. ISBN 0 391 04098 7

22. Brenner, A.D. Emil J. Gumbel. Weimar German Pacifist and Professor. ISBN 0 391 04101 0 23. Bell, D.P. Sacred Communities. Jewish and Christian Identities in Fifteenth-Century Germany. ISBN 0 391 04102 9 24. Myers Feinstein, M. State Symbols. The Quest for Legitimacy in the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic, 1949-1959. ISBN 0 391 04103 7 25. Hobson, R. Imperialism at Sea. Naval Strategic Thought, the Ideology of Sea Power, and the Tirpitz Plan, 1875-1914. ISBN 0 391 04105 3 26. Edwards, K.A. Families and Frontiers. Re-creating Communities and Boundaries in the Early Modern Burgundies. ISBN 0 391 04106 1 27. Lavery, J. Germany’s Northern Challenge. The Holy Roman Empire and the Scandinavian Struggle for the Baltic 1563-1576. ISBN 0 391 04156 8 28. Healy, R. Jesuit Specter in Imperial Germany. ISBN 0 391 04194 0 29. Geehr, R.S. Aesthetics of Horror. The Life and Thought of Richard von Kralik. ISBN 0 391 04201 7 30. Safley, T.M. (ed.). Reformation of Charity. The Secular and the Religious in Early Modern Poor Relief. ISBN 0 391 04211 4 31. Lindemann, M. (ed.). Ways of Knowing. Ten Interdisciplinary Essays. ISBN 0 391 04184 3 32. Ulbrich, C. Shulamit and Margarete. Power, Gender, and Religion in a Rural Society in Eighteenth-Century Europe. Transl. by T. Dunlap. ISBN 0 391 04145 2 33. Funck, M. & Chickering, R. (eds.). Endangered Cities. Military Power and Urban Societies in the Era of the World Wars. ISBN 0 391 04196 7 34. Beachy, R. The Soul of Commerce. Credit, Property, and Politics in Leipzig, 1750-1840. ISBN 0 391 04142 8 35. Mayes, D. Communal Christianity. The Life and Loss of a Peasant Vision in Early Modern Germany. ISBN 0 391 04225 4 36. Aaslestad, K. Place and Politics. Local Identity, Civic Culture, and German Nationalism in North Germany during the Revolutionary Era. ISBN 0 391 04228 9 37. Burnett, S.G. & Bell, D.P. (eds.). Jews, Judaism, and the Reformation in Sixteenth-Century Germany. ISBN 90 04 14947 3 38. Safley, T.M. Children of the Laboring Poor. Expectation and Experience among the Orphans of Early Modern Augsburg. ISBN 0 391 04224 6 39. Hartston, B.P. Sensationalizing the Jewish Question. Anti-Semitic Trials and the Press in the Early German Empire. ISBN 90 04 14654 7 40. Janik, E. Recomposing German Music. Politics and Musical Tradition in Cold War Berlin. ISBN 90 04 14661 X 41. Canoy, J.R. The Discreet Charm of the Police State. The Landpolizei and the Transformation of Bavaria, 1945-1965. ISBN 978 90 04 15708 8 42. Head, R.C. & Christensen, D. (eds.). Orthodoxies and Heterodoxies in Early Modern German Culture. Order and Creativity 1550-1750. 2007. ISBN 978 90 04 16276 1 43. Steinhoff, A.J. The Gods of the City: Protestantism and Religious Culture in Strasbourg, 18701914. 2008. ISBN 978 90 04 16405 5 44. Johnson, M.W. Training Socialist Citizens: Sports and the State in East Germany. 2008. ISBN 978 90 04 16957 9