Copyright © by Den danske historiske Forening.
Sport and International Politics
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.