By Mike Dennis
In line with unique Stasi and Communist get together archival assets, this book uncovers why East Germany was once for 2 a long time running one of the most profitable countries in the summertime and iciness Olympics, exploring how the crucial elite activities process was once beset by means of inner tensions and disputes.
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Extra info for Sport under Communism: Behind the East German ‘Miracle’
For our following discussion it is important to remember that although East Germany appeared to collapse suddenly, the signs of decay set in much earlier. Whereas resources and funding within almost all areas of society stagnated in the 1980s along with the economy – including facilities and provision for mass sport – elite sport was deemed too important a political tool and was immune to cuts. As we The Political Use of Sport 27 have seen, shortly before the state imploded, the Seoul Olympics in 1988 had yielded an astonishing 102 medals for second place in the medal table ahead of the US, which had over ten times the number of citizens.
Not only was infrastructure in ruins in most cities but sport’s reputation was sullied by its close connections with the National Socialist regime. 1 Major centres of sport such as Dresden, Berlin, Magdeburg and Leipzig were devastated by bombing raids and invasion forces. 2 At a time when socio-economic recovery and the assertion of communist control over the zone were absolute priorities, the revival of sport was low on the agenda of Soviet and German communist functionaries. Not until 1948 was an organisation – the DSA (Deutscher Sportausschuss; German Sport Committee) – created for the central direction of sport, a move that soon ended in failure and political and organisational confusion.
29 The allocation of responsibility for high-performance sport to the DSA in 1951 fitted in with Ulbricht’s aspiration, as outlined in October 1949, for the GDR to attain international standards in sport. 30 A commitment to elite performance was expressed unequivocally in the SED Central Committee directive of March 1951. Not only did the directive enhance the role of the DSA but also set the target of attaining and then surpassing the best German performances in sport. 32 In 1951, the GDR National Olympic Committee was founded; another seven years would elapse, however, before GDR sportsmen and women would be able to participate in the Olympics, albeit as part of an all-German team.