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32.1 - Sports and Dictatorship

Special Issue
Mixed Issue
HSR Vol. 32 (2007) No. 1: Special Issue: Sports and Dictatorship

Jutta Braun & René Wiese (Eds.): Sports and Dictatorship: On the Political and Social Role of Sports in the German Dictatorships of the 20th Century

Fun, play, soulfulness – those are some of the spontaneous associations with sports in general. Accordingly, the value of sports as a scientific object often remains underestimated. This is particularly the case for the field of dictatorship research, which sometimes leaves out sport completely. However, sport played an important role both in the self-image and power technologies of modern dictatorships. Today, the sport organizations, to a large extent, even still ignore today the political and social function sport held in National Socialism as well as in GDR’s Socialism. This HSR Special Issue presents various research results regarding the involvement of sports in dictatorial governance and outlines some key issues of scholarly output. The seemingly harmless sports helped the two German dictatorships forcing their internal and external striving for power very effectively. Sports as arena of international competition turned out to be a perfect spot of representation. It is remarkable that FRG regarded GDR‘s way of organizing sports as a emulating example both during the Cold War and after ’89. Therefore, the question is whether sports is able to maintain the self-image as cultural “world of its own” which is neutral towards political circumstances.