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How the end of the GDR has saved part of the history of sport

imago images / Matthias Koch

Audio: Inforadio | 02.12.2019 | Philipp Laberenz | picture: imago images / Matthias Koch

Exhibition at the Hans Zoschke stadium

How the end of the GDR has saved part of the history of sport

The exhibition "Football in the backyard of the Stasi" shows how the traditional club of Lichtenberg 47 was able to keep its own identity in the immediate vicinity of the Stasi during the GDR era. And how the end of the regime saved his homeland. By Philipp Laberenz

The fall of the wall 30 years ago was a stroke of luck. Not just for the citizens of the GDR. Also for the Hans-Zoschke stadium in Berlin's Lichtenberg district. "This is a fundamental turnaround for the stadium facilities, because documents from the Ministry of State Security show that it was almost twelve," said Henry Berthy, a member of Sportverein Lichtenberg 47 since 1963 and now its director general. Berthy knows it: The collapse of the GDR regime in the late 1980s was the hello of his club's home.

"The club would have lost its roots"

The Hans Zoschke stadium is part of the history of sport, but it should be released for demolition. The stone circle nestles in the shadow of the former seat of the Stasi, the concrete washed by the GDR dominating the house of the 47th stadium and Lichtenberg club characterizes the district before the founding of the workers and peasants .

By the time of reunification, Lichtenberg 47 was already more than half a century old. "Transplanting a 50-year-old tree to another place," says Berthy, "without the stadium, the club would have lost its roots."

But at the time of the GDR, the former secret services ate in the neighborhood. The field and the athletes were a thorn in the side of Stasi leader Erich Mielke. The stadium had to be integrated into the Stasi. Mielke had already negotiated with the magistrate of the city of East Berlin. What was missing: an escape for the sports club. But suddenly the fall of the wall broke out in

Exhibition panels in the Hans Zoschke stadium. | picture: Philipp Laberenz

One of the last private clubs in East Berlin

The exhibition "Football in the backyard of the Stasi" tells this turbulent story. Historian Christian Booß designed it: "Mielke was visibly angry, he did not want these people here." Lichtenberg 47 represented many things contrary to the party elite: civic engagement, private engagement, assertiveness.

The club has long been one of the last existing private clubs in East Berlin. Founded by the members immediately after the war and supported by the middle-class population, the Lichtenbergs cultivated their self-determination and independence. "It was not at all desirable in the GDR," says Booß. "All sports impulses have been put under the roof of the state."

We are also happy because these forums are of course also seen by people who come here for normal football matches, who would not normally contact us on the old Stasi site to deal with the past.

Christian Booß, historian

Group of football fans

Booß is president of the association "Citizens Committee January 15" based on the site of the Stasi Museum. The club is named after the day of January 1990, when citizens of the GDR stormed the headquarters of the Stasi, opposite Lichtenberg 47. In cooperation with the sports neighbors, the reprocessing association created the exhibition. The outdoor version can now be seen as a permanent exhibition at the stadium entrance.

Three panels show a vital club that could make its way in adverse circumstances. And not only has the Stasi survived, but it also offers regional football fields. Football fans should be particularly solicited. "We are also delighted because these forums are of course also seen by people who attend normal football matches and who would not normally contact us on the former site of the Stasi to face the past," says Booß.

Broadcasting: Inforadio, 02.12.2019, 14:15