UBC Graduate Research

‘Not thinking of the sun, but tanned by it.’ : Sport, Politics and Anti-Intellectualism in the Weimar Republic Hung, Jochen


Graduate student conference held December 4-5, 2009 at the University of British Columbia. Panel 4: The German Ideology – Sports and Politics in the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich moderated by Lydia Jones. Abstract: "This presentation aims to retrace the entry of sport into mass culture during the Weimar Republic and its subsequent politicisation. In the 1920s, the ‘Turnbewegung’, the traditional form of organised sport in Germany, splintered along the political fault-lines of the time, creating nationalistic, social democratic, and communist sport clubs. What united these camps was the view of sport as a way to form a collective identity and the rejection of ‘bourgeois’ competitive sport, pitching the athletes against each other in a race for the next record, as being symptomatic of the individualism of modern capitalist society. The rise of spectator sports was dismissed as part of an ‘Americanisation’ of society. On the other hand, competitive sport was also seen as a foundation for the new democracy: The author Frank Thiess believed ‘the competition of free people’ would transform the ‘submissive Germans’ into ‘responsible republicans’. All of these political appropriations of the sport phenomenon shared an anti-intellectualism, welcoming the ‘Ungeistigkeit’ of physical exercise. The connection of sport and irrationality was then incorporated into National Socialist ideology and later played an important role in the cultural and education policy of the Third Reich." This presentation can be found at 00:00:59 - 00:22:30 in the recording.

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