Study on doping in the GDR: “In the engine room of the dictatorship”

Back in the GDR: Hammer, compass and wreath of wheat on the stands of the 1987 gymnastics and sports festival in Leipzig Image: picture alliance / ADN

In an interview, historian Jutta Braun talks about the violence in the GDR’s doping system, the serious consequential damage suffered by those affected and the “grotesque” equation of manipulation on both sides.

Were you surprised by the results of the investigation into court files on doping in the GDR, which you plan to publish at the end of the year together with your colleague René Wiese?

No. We knew that the court files were very rich in content. They show what happened much more clearly and validly because they were created so close to the GDR era. They offer a very authentic insight into the engine room of the dictatorship. In some respects, the new is the perspective of many athletes. But the court documents also reveal what doctors, trainers and officials said in detail about their actions. If you want to describe how a system worked, you also have to look at the side of the perpetrators, at their thinking and their values, and at the way they interpreted their actions afterwards.


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