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Training new socialist citizens through sports

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Chapter Summary

To Walter 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. In an article on vacation sports, Ingeburg Wonneberger, scholar at the German College for Physical Culture, highlighted the importance of getting medals into the hands of many citizens to build their confidence and draw them into further organized athletics. 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. 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.

Keywords: East German; socialist citizens; sports; Walter Ulbricht



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