Gesellschaft für Sport und Technik

The Gesellschaft für Sport und Technik (GST), lit. “Sport and Technology Association”, was one of the East German “Mass Organizations”.[1] Officially, it was established to structure the free time of young people interested in sports and technology in group activities, provide the required technical equipment (for example, motorcycles, aircraft, radios), cultivate and support technical sport disciplines, and arrange for events like motor and shooting competitions. The association also contributed to the militarization of East German society by organizing together with the National People’s Army the country’s mandatory pre-military training (VA, vormilitärische Ausbildung) in schools, universities and workplaces. It was established on 7 August 1952 and disbanded in early 1990. The association published a monthly, 32-page periodical, S+T (Sport und Technik).

Sport and Technology Association
Gesellschaft für Sport und Technik
Founded7 August 1952
Dissolved1990
HeadquartersEast Berlin, German Democratic Republic
Membership600.000 (1988)
IdeologyCommunism
GST radio operator, 1976
GST motorists qualification badge
GST Motorcycle convoy in Leipzig, 1953
GST parachutists at the Gera-Leumnitz airfield, 1977
Target practice with small bore rifles near Mirow in preparation of the GST Third Central Championships, 1967
East German postage stamp commemorating the GST’s 30th anniversary, 1982

MissionEdit

The Gesellschaft für Sport und Technik (GST) was originally established to structure through group activities the free time of people of all ages who were interested in sports and technology. This included adolescents, who were to be given an opportunity to engage in meaningful leisure activities. Older, more experienced members were expected to take beginners under their wing and give them support. Most of the required equipment (such as motorcycles, boats, automobiles, trucks, airplanes, radios, rifles, workshops and even animals) was provided, and maintained and serviced by both the members themselves and permanent employees. But the mission soon changed; military sports became increasingly predominant, and the organization evolved into a “school for tomorrow’s soldiers”. It operated training bases, shooting ranges and military training camps, and held competitions.

Even if they were not members, almost all young men and women came into contact with the GST because it organized the pre-military training exercises mandated by East Germany's Military Service Law. Without participating in this training, access to university and career training was usually blocked.

Some secondary school students were GST members, which was also the case for trainees in large concerns. They paid only a token membership fee. How much emphasis was placed on military matters depended to a great extent on the trainers at the schools. In addition to general pre-military training there were also military camps (taking place for boys over two weeks at the end of the 9th grade), a so-called “Qualification March” (Marsch der Bewährung) for about five days each year either in the course of vocational training or once at the end of the 11th grade in secondary schools, and competitions.

But the organization also united in its ranks young people and adults of both sexes with the goal of improving their physical fitness, equipping them with technical knowledge, and in general cultivating expertise and abilities useful for military and international sports competitions. It frequently offered the only possibility to legally engage in certain sports, like gliding, flying motorized aircraft, shooting, and diving.

The range of leisure activities was reduced more and more starting in the 1970s, for example, sport gliding in locations near the West German border after a number of GDR citizens successfully escaped to West Germany using various types of flying machines.

GST members had an opportunity to obtain a driver's license for trucks, cars, motorcycles or mopeds. For many young people this was a primary reason for joining the GST.

About one percent of the expenses were covered in the country’s defense budget; the rest had to be financed by other state institutions, as the income from membership fees was insignificant. Members received uniforms,[2] ranks, performance badges and medals. The governing board was dominated by full-time personnel with military background, usually former career soldiers.

In 1979 the GST had about 530,000 members in over 9,000 local divisions,[citation needed] a number that had risen to 600,000 by 1988.[3] In addition to these divisions, which usually had their own areas of specialization, GST as an East German mass organization was organized according to the rules of what was called “democratic centralism” as to its basic organizations, county and district boards, and central governing board. The basic organizations existed in factories and workplaces, vocational schools, secondary schools, universities and colleges, administrative bodies and producers’ cooperatives. The highest organ of the Gesellschaft für Sport und Technik was according to its statutes a congress which usually met every five years and had the task of electing the central governing board.

One goal of the organization was to obtain voluntary, well-qualified and dedicated recruits for career service in the National People’s Army. This became increasingly difficult to achieve starting in the 1980s as most members were uninterested in volunteering for extended military service.

Sport disciplinesEdit

Various sport disciplines were organized into official East German groupings under the aegis of the GST:

  • East German Alliance of German Marksmen
  • East German Aerial and Parachute Sports Association
  • East German Multiple Military Sports Association
  • Model Sports Association
  • Motor Sports Association
  • East German Amateur Radio Association
  • East German Marine Sports Association
  • East German Sport Divers Association
  • Military Combat Sports Association

For some disciplines, subsections of the main organizations were established, for example for:

SymbolsEdit

The association’s emblem was a red oval with an anchor, propeller blade and rifle, surrounded by golden ears of grain and a cogwheel. The GST flag was red, with the symbol at the center.

EquipmentEdit

In 1986/87 the association had at its disposal:

  • 3 500 motor vehicles of various types, including 1 334 driver training trucks
  • 17 384 motorcycles, heavyweight and lightweight
  • 33 schooling ships and training motorboats
  • 529 motorboats and cutters
  • 167 aircraft
  • 472 gliders
  • 10 026 telecommunications devices
  • 48 000 small-bore machine guns (including 40 000 unused model KK-Mpi stored)
  • 50 000 small-bore rifle
  • 106 000 air guns
  • 1 154 armories
  • 8 741 shooting lanes (as distinguished from shooting ranges)
  • 12 central training centers and schools
  • 35 airfields

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ These were organizations under the control of the East German Communist Party, created to influence and supervise large segments of the population at large and integrate them into the East German social system.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-18. Retrieved 2013-01-27.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ Dirk Jurich, Staatssozialismus und gesellschaftliche Differenzierung: eine empirische Studie, p.32. LIT Verlag Münster, 2006, ISBN 3825898938

Further readingEdit

  • Zentralvorstand der Gesellschaft für Sport und Technik, ed. (1988). Chronik zur Geschichte der Gesellschaft für Sport und Technik (in German) (2. ed.). Berlin: Militärverlag der DDR. ISBN 3-327-00271-1.
  • Paul Heider (2007), "Die Gesellschaft für Sport und Technik (1952-1990)", Handbuch der bewaffneten Organe der DDR (in German), Augsburg: Weltbild, ISBN 3-8289-0555-2 Licensed edition of: Torsten Diedrich; Hans Ehlert; Rüdiger Wenzke (1998), Im Dienste der Partei (in German), Berlin: Ch. Links, ISBN 3-86153-160-7
  • Klaus Froh; Rüdiger Wenzke (2000), Die Generale und Admirale der NVA. Ein biographisches Handbuch (in German) (4. ed.), Berlin: Ch. Links, ISBN 3-86153-209-3
  • Ullrich Berger (2002), Frust und Freude. Die zwei Gesichter der Gesellschaft für Sport und Technik (in German) (1. ed.), Schkeuditz: GNN Verlag, ISBN 3-89819-111-7
  • Lutz Mohr (2012), Schulschiffe unter Segel und Motor. Zur Geschichte der GST-Marineschule „August Lütgens“ Greifswald-Wieck (in German), Elmenhorst: Edition Pommern, ISBN 978-3939680-12-3