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Exhibition "ZOV Tracksuit Traitors. East German Elite Athletes on the Run"


Opening of the exhibition in the Willy-Brandt-Haus in Berlin, Germany<br />© exhibeo/ZdS


Under the auspices of the Mayor of Berlin, Klaus Wowereit

Runs 11 July to 12 August 2012 at the German Historical Institute London
Mo, Tue, Wed, Fri: 10 am- 5 pm
Thursday: 10 am – 8 pm
Free Admission

Between 1949 and 1989, more than 3 million people left the German Democratic Republic, many illegally and under dangerous circumstances. Sport, an area which was strongly promoted by the SED regime to improve its international reputation, was seriously affected by this. Hundreds of top athletes turned their backs on East Germany, looking for a new future in the ideologically defamed West. Fleeing the republic turned them into ‘traitors’ in the eyes of the political leadership, and their flight thus became a highly political issue.

© Zentrum deutsche Sportgeschichte Berlin Brandenburg e.V. (ZdS) / Laura Soria

This exhibition, designed by Zentrum deutsche Sportgeschichte (ZdS) and the exhibition agency exhibeo, presents the stories of eight athletes who managed to flee from the GDR. Their stories, captured at a moment of remembering, are told in video installations by the Mexican artist Laura Soria. The installations create space for reflection and enable visitors to contact the silent interlocutors by setting their narratives in motion. This is the moment when their personalities come alive: telling their stories in their own voices, revealing, confessing, and confiding. The installations are complemented by personal memorabilia, documents, and images of the protagonists’ lives in East and West Germany. Background information is provided to give visitors an idea of state repression, the act of fleeing, and how the refugees experienced their new start in the West. The exhibition is available in English, German, and Spanish.

Exhibition report (PDF file), published in: GHIL Bulletin 34 (2012), Vol 2

See also:

Special event Former Olympic Athlete Renate Bauer in conversation with Dr Jutta Braun (ZdS)