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Voluntary campaigns and socialist society

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Chapter Summary

The most highly celebrated elements of the stadium project were the countless voluntary work actions completed by ordinary East German citizens in response to state campaigns to encourage their participation. The SED used the "voluntary work actions" to portray the building of the Zentralstadion - and by extension the building of socialism in East Germany - as a joint effort of state initiative and grassroots participation. 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 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 phenomenon of voluntarism gives insight into how East German socialism functioned.

Keywords: East German; socialism; state campaigns; Voluntarism

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