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Chapter Summary

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. 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. 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 study of mass sports in the 1950s illuminates the broader, complex history of the East German dictatorship.

Keywords: East German; Friedensfahrt; socialist citizen; sports



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