Sexual abuse in GDR sport has concerned those affected to this day

HKerstin Claus demands attitude towards sports, politics and society. The sexual abuse that the independent commissioner of the federal government wanted to deal with in Schwerin on Wednesday was decades ago: in sport in the GDR. Nevertheless, the crimes, although statute-barred, are highly topical. The psyche of no fewer victims excludes the traumatizing event from memory so effectively that it takes years and even decades to at least suspect what happened.

In her psychotherapy, reported a former track and field athlete who was doped in the 1980s and also sexually abused by her trainer, a second perpetrator “came to light” recently. It’s about the sports doctor from back then. A former water jumper spoke about her self-help group: “She cleared the doubts about my memory.” The former water jumper Jenny Richter asked the audience: “Talk to relatives and acquaintances that it really happened.”

“We have him because we can’t get rid of him”

Beyond the responsibility for those affected, it is important to take responsibility for today’s athletes. Structures have been preserved from the sports system of the GDR, in which victories had the highest priority and isolation and secrecy encouraged abuse. Trainers and supervisors with a GDR character do not disappear with retirement. As honorary trainers, they are very welcome in clubs and associations – and with them often the methods of yesterday.

High-performance sport and child protection are mutually exclusive, “as the structures are at the moment,” stated Steffen Sindulka, child protection officer at the Thuringia State Sports Association. An employee of the State Sports Association of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania said of an abusive trainer: “We don’t have him because we want him. We have him because we can’t get rid of him.”

Psychotherapy is like winning the lottery

The abuse of the water jumper Jan Hempel by his trainer, which the person concerned made public, also stands for the special continuity of abuse in the sport of united Germany. It took place in the days of the GDR and unity. It takes time to open up, said Hempel at the expert discussion that the independent commission organized together with the state commissioner for Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania for the processing of the SED dictatorship. During this time, however, the statute of limitations is likely to set in. His tormentor took his own life, Hempel said, but there was a general threat that the rapist would end up laughing in his victim’s face.

Those affected are fighting for help even more than against the statute of limitations. Receiving psychotherapy is like winning the lottery. Each individual has to fight for therapy, for recognition as a victim. Kerstin Claus said it was shameful that those affected had to acquire the expertise to repeatedly run into walls, not to be seen and not heard, and not to receive any answers.

The track and field athlete said how surprised, moved and pleased she was when, at the hearing of the Independent Commission on Abuse in Sport two and a half years ago, Vice President Petra Tzschoppe apologized to those affected on behalf of the DOSB. She was all the more disappointed that nothing happened within a year. She wrote Tzschoppe an email asking if she was really serious about the apology. To date, she has received no response, she said. Responsibility is not solely moral. The National Olympic Committee for Germany, which has merged into the DOSB, has taken over the assets of the NOK of the GDR and is its legal successor.

Politician Angela Marquardt from the Council of Affected Persons reported how a representative of the DOSB patronizingly admitted to her being emotional in a meeting. “For him, I was the victim who was allowed to sit at the table,” she judged, countering: “We are experts.”

Those who were familiar with the demands of the Independent Representatives for research and networking were helped by the former gymnast Susann Wegner. She recalled Ines Geipel, who, as a co-plaintiff in the doping processes and as chairwoman of the doping victims’ aid association, pushed through a social discussion and state aid worth millions for those affected.

“Taking responsibility is a matter for the boss”

Five years ago, in October 2018, she demanded in the FAZ that the doping victim support association be transferred to a different structure and be transferred to a clinic or to a processing institution with professional instead of voluntary support: “It’s about to leave the constellation that those affected look after those affected. Even more so when the damage is always in this unfortunate alliance between unresolved GDR sport and media sports euphoria.”

Today, Maximilian Klein from Athletes Germany alludes to the medal dreams of German sport: “The goal of keeping up with Russia and China in sport undermines the holistic development of young people.” And even more: “Taking responsibility is a matter for the boss.”


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