Historisk Tidsskrift
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Sport and International Politics 
Danish gymnastics encounter Stalinism in its formative years 

(95:2, 366)

The year 1931 marks a turning-point in Danish motion culture. In the late summer of that year a troupe of Danish gymnasts under the leadership of Niels Bukh set out on a tour that would make Danish gymnastics known throughout large areas of the world. It was a dramatic year, during which the Soviet Union under Stalin was undergoing forced collectivisation and felt the results of the first Five Year Plan. The three-week stay in the USSR provided a wide section of the Danish public with access to a diversity of observations of numerous elements of the emerging Stalinist system. These included the first Five Year Plan, forced collectivisation, the persecution of the kulaks, the system of espionage, the propaganda machine, the worship of industrial performance and the cult of Lenin. This article focuses on the following questions: How was sport (i.e. Danish gymnastics) connected with politics in the heavily politicised Stalinist atmosphere? What picture of Soviet society did the gymnasts present to the Danish public in 1931? What picture of Danish national identity was manifest and how was it shaped by this encounter with the »alien« world? An English version of the article is planned to be published in European Journal of History, Quarterly