FESTIVE DAYS IN LEIPZIG

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1 FESTIVE DAYS IN LEIPZIG MANIFESTATION OF VITALITY AND FRIENDSHIP AMONG THE PEOPLES In its issue Nos. 23/24 the Newsletter already mentioned in brief the Vth German Gymnastics and Sports Festival of the German Democratic Republic which took place in Leipzig from July 24th till July 27th as this year's climax of G.D.R. sports. We are convinced that this great festival in Leipzig has made an essential contribution towards the further spreading of the Olympic ideal in our country. The magnificent sports show with 27,000 young girls and boys offering topclass sports performances in perfect harmony of movement, music and colours, to a music set by the best composers of our country, was certainly an unforgettable experience. However, the basic idea of this festival exceeded by far the impression of such an inspiring show. The fundamental idea of the Vth German Gymnastics and Sports Festival of the G.D.R. was to interest the whole population in active participation in sports. The Chairman of the Council of State of the German Democratic Republic, Walter ULBRIGHT, in his greeting message, formulated this object as follows : "Our Vth German Gymnastics and Sports 623

2 Festival serves the development of man and his socialist community. Vitality, joy of living, sense of duty and humanistic mind are contents of the new way of living in our German Democratic Republic. The festive days of sports manifest cur joint persevering efforts towards peace and friendship among the peoples, manifest the joy of living of our youth and of our social activity for health, education and creative power of the people.:' Is this not the realization of the fundamental idea of Baron de Coubertin who understood sports not as a matter of luxury, but demanded that society ought to give everybody an equal opportunity of actively taking part in sports - free of charge, if possible - to keep himself and herself mentally and physically fit? Inspired by ths sports show, thousands of citizens went to the newly opened "Centre of Recreation and Sound Way of Living", took part in the "Run for Better Health movement" or hived into the refreshing water of seven newly-built "People's Indoor Pools"; all the population of Leipzig went in for sports, following the motto "Mach mit, bleib fit" (Take part, keep fit). We were very glad that the President of the I.O.C. Mr. Avery BRUNDACE, who had accepted our invitation to Leipzig together with many other leading representatives of the world sports movement, realized this our basic aim and expressed his appreciation during a reception offered by the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the G.D.R., Mr. Willi STOPH, with the following words: "The most important thing is the national programme of physical training and competitive sports which develops stronger boys and girls and makes better citizens who learn to understand better the high principles of the Olympic Movement. And these things seem to be very well understood here in the G.D.R." Numerous other members of the I.O.C. subscribed to that opinion, as for instance Mr. Reng RAXOTOBE (Madagascar) who said: "The fine sports festival in Leipzig has proved convincingly that the G.D.R. stands for the Olympic ideas in a humanistic spirit." Or Mr. Hadj Mohammed BENJELLOUN (Morocco): "It does your sports officials credit to do so much for this splendid youth. The 624

3 saying is quite true that a sound mind can only dwell in a sound body." I.O.C. member James WORRALL (Canada) put the question: "How did you ever manage to prepare so many young sportsmen and women for these displays? Now I know the basis from which the athletes spring that the G.D.R. keeps sending to the important sports events." To answer this question, I shall quote the President of the German Gymnastics and Sports Union, Mr. Manfred EWALD, who with pride directed the attention of his auditorium to the fact that in the short period of merely 20 years of existence of the German Democratic Republic the number of those who took part in sports rose from 200,000 in 1949 to a total of 2 million members of the German Gymnastics and Sports Union in "When in the year of 1949 the peace-loving peoples confidently welcomed the foundation of the G.D.R., we took upon us the obligation to participate, on the condition of absolute equality of rights and sovereignty, in the peaceful and nation-linking promotion of sports throughout the world and to make our contribution to the further development of international sports. Today, 20 years since then, we have friendly relations with sports organizations of more than 100 countries. Thus, we have undergone an exemplary development, in the interest of peace and friendship amongst nations, in the interest of health and education of the people and for the benefit of the working people and younger generation. This is being recognized and appreciated far beyond the boundaries of our state." National education and sports - these are the catchwords for me to mention the remarkable exhibition "Arts and Sports". A representative selection of paintings and works of the plastic and graphic arts demonstrated, how well-known artists of the G.D.R. had dealt with the subject of sports and how interested thousands of sportsmen and women who visited the exhibition gave their opinion and valued these works which were prove of the artists' sincere sympathy in sports. During the festival days, an unusual hot sun was shining from a cloudless blue sky, indeed requiring the physical condition of an Olympic athlete. 625

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5 We also consider it a great honour that the members of the I.O.C. present in Leipzig, together with the representatives of many National Olympic Committees had accepted the invitation of the National Olympic Committee of the G.D.R. to spend among friends a few pleasant hours in the world-famous "Auerbachs Keller", where the conversations were mostly about our common Olympic Movement. "Auerbachs Keller" is an old historical wine restaurant which became generally known through Johann WOLFGANG von GOETH's drama "Faust ", and I have got the impression that it was this atmosphere of humanism and open-mindedness to the world of the great Olympian which united us there. I do hope that for our highly esteemed guests the experience of the Vth German Gymnastics and Sports Festival will be remembered for a long time to come. Dr. Heinz SCHOBEL Member of the I.O.C. for the G.D.R. President of the N.O.C. of the G.D.R. 627

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