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The embodiment of east german socialism: The gymnastics and sports festivals

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Chapter Summary

The Sports Show, one of the most emblematic public events in the GDR, featured athletes who performed synchronized exercises on the field. 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. 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 Osttribune, coordinated special train schedules, found housing for tens of thousands of guests, and secured fruits and vegetables for festival participants and spectators. 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.

Keywords: East German; GDR; Gymnastics; Sports Festivals

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