East German Sports Program

Rica Reinisch won 3 gold medals at the Moscow Olympics


Competition with the West was also conducted on a sporting level. Those who excelled at sports in school were noted by teachers  and sent to one of 19 special sport schools. Many were forced to take steroids and punished if their performance was not good enough .East German athletes dominated several Olympic disciplines. Of special interest was the only football match ever to occur between West and East Germany, a first round match during the 1974 World Cup. Though West Germany was the host and the eventual champion, East beat West 1-0.For a small country, the people of East Germany achieved some remarkable results in many sports including cycling, weightlifting, swimming, track and field, boxing, skating and other winter sports. One reason for the success was started with late 1960s leadership of Dr. Manfred Hoeppner. Anabolic steroid doping allowed East Germany, with its small population, to become a world leader in the following two decades, winning a large number of Olympic and world gold medals and records. An estimated 800 athletes developed serious ailments.


Figure skater Katarina Witt (born 1965) was one of the most famous East German Olympians, called Kati, when she was younger.She won gold medals in the 1984 and 1989 Olympics


Another factor for success was the furtherance-system for young people in GDR. When some children were aged around 6 until 10 years old (or older) sport-teachers at school were encouraged to look for certain talents in every pupil. For older pupils it was possible to attend grammar-schools with a focus on sports (for example sailing, football and swimming). This policy was also used for talented pupils with regard to music or mathematics.



Show on of the East German Sports program


Sports clubs were highly subsidized, especially sports in which it was possible to get international fame. For example, the major leagues for ice hockey and basketball just included each 2 teams (excluding the school and university sport). Football (soccer) was the most popular sport after team handball. Club football sides like Dynamo Dresden, 1. FC Magdeburg, FC Carl Zeiss Jena, 1. FC Lokomotive Leipzig and FC Hansa Rostock did have some success in European competition. Many East German players became integral parts of the reunified national football team, for example Matthias Sammer. Other sports enjoyed great popularity like figure skating, especially because of sportswomen like Katharina Witt.

From 1976 to 1988, they came second in all of their three summer Olympics, behind the Soviet Union, and well ahead of larger West Germany. This was even bettered at five winter games, with 4 second place rankings, and even a first in the 1984 Winter Olympics.


 Doping Scandal of East Germany in the 1970s



East German Rock


The Trabant