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Sport or political organization? Structures and characteristics of the Red Sport International, 1921-1937



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Sport or Political
Organization? Structures and
Characteristics of the Red
Sport International,
André Gounot
At its foundation in Moscow on 23 June 1921, the International Union of Red Sports and
Gymnastics Associations, better known as Red Sport International (RSI),1 defined its
mission as “the creation and amalgamation of revolutionary proletarian sports and gym-
nastics organizations in all countries of the world and their transformation into support
centers for the proletariat in its class struggle.”2The creation of a revolutionary organiza-
tion in the field of sport reflected the division of the international labor movement after
the First World War into a communist branch that believed that capitalism could only be
beaten through revolutions, and a socialist one that believed in a social reform. Thus, the
aim of the communist RSI was to act as a counterbalance to the Lucerne Sport Interna-
tional (LSI), established in 1920 by representatives of European worker sports federations
and allied, in its ideology, to the socialist labor movement. At the end of the 1920s, the
RSI included several national sections in Europe and in North and South America. Dur-
ing the sixteen years of its existence (the RSI was disbanded by the presidium of the
Comintern in April 1937),3 however, it was never able to seriously challenge the LSI’s
dominant position in international worker sport.4
The RSI was founded on the initiative of Nikolai Podvoisky, chairman of the Russian
organization for military training (
Vsevobuch), after a series of meetings about sport issues
with communists coming from eight countries.5Far from being directly involved in the
RSI’s founding,6the Comintern executive practically ignored worker sport at this time.
The RSI, however, considered itself from the beginning an auxiliary organization, con-
forming to the aims of the Comintern and operating under its political authority in the
Spring 2001
area of working-class leisure. Finally, in autumn 1924, the RSI was publicly recognized by
the Fifth World Congress of the Communist International as an integral part of the inter-
national communist movement.
Table 1: The International Worker Sport Movement, 1931
Places RSI sections SWSI sections
125,000 1,211,468
Czechoslovak federations 80,000
German federations of Sudetenland
Finland 30,257
Switzerland 21,624
The Netherlands
10,000 5,000
Spain 9,000
Polish federation 7,000
Jewish federation
German federation
Ukrainian federation
5,500 10,000
United Kingdom
5,000 5,000
Palestine 4,250
Canada 4,000
Romania 2,500
Greece 2,000
Total 277,500 1,872,460
The detailed numbers on the sections of the Socialist Worker Sports International are taken from the
sections’ reports to the 6th SWSI Congress in Liege (Belgium) in 1932, published as Berichte zum VI.
Kongreß der Sozialistischen Arbeitersport-Internationale in Lüttich über die Jahre 1930-31
(Prague, 1932).
The numbers concerning the RSI are essentially estimations based on various sources, mainly the issues
of Internationaler Arbeiterrport for 1930 and 1931, and “Mitgliederbewegung der Kampfgemeinschaft
von Juni bis Oktober 1931”, in SAPMO-BArch, Ry/I 2 70/1.
. RSI membership reached its peak in
24 Volume 28, Number 1
Was the RSI a typical communist organization, comparable to the Young Commu-
nist International and other communist “mass organizations,” or did it possess instead the
features of a proletarian sport organization? What was more important to the RSI: its
political mission or its role in providing organized sports for the workers?
In investigating these questions one must consider the two main spheres in which the
RSI developed its activities. On the one hand, it was at the very center of international
communism. From 1924-25 onward, its executive committee belonged to the extended
apparatus of the Communist International. On the other, it also operated on the periph-
ery of the communist movement, where the aim was to engage with workers who did not
belong to a political party. These two dimensions are in keeping with both restrictive and
broad conceptions of the RSI. Its executive bodies made the RSI, firstly, the “policy maker”
or “headquarters” of the international communist worker sports movement. Secondly, it
was a voluntary amalgamation of worker sport federations of various countries, counting
among its members all worker sportsmen of the sections affiliated to it.
This article, based on documents contained in the archives of the communist move-
ment in Moscow, Berlin, and Paris, makes use of the broad definition of the organization
and examines the different patterns of behavior of the RSI executive and the RSI mem-
bers.8 So doing, it focuses on the position of the RSI within the structures of international
communism as a particular handicap in exercising its influence. Indeed, in its attempt to
attract the masses the RSI’s agitation encapsulated—not least on account of the nature of
worker sport federations as proletarian leisure organizations—the fundamental problem
of the communist movement: with the Revolution still beyond the horizon, it was diffi-
cult to convince worker sportsmen that it was nonetheless imperative to join the revolu-
tionary movement and that it was not sufficient to gratify one’s sporting needs in the all-
party community of worker sport clubs. Moreover, the obligation to follow the general
lines of Comintern policy was often at variance with heeding the special demands of
worker sport in different countries. In discussing the high level of dependence that charac-
terized the RSI’s relations with the Comintern, and considering the social and cultural
mechanisms in worker sport clubs, the article will reveal the specific problems faced by the
RSI in its attempts to use sport—a relatively autonomous practice—for political ends. It
will also show that the RSI’s position in a power oriented movement left little chance for
the RSI to introduce significant changes in the sport practices of worker sport clubs.
The “Bolshevization” of the RSI’s leadership
The term “Bolshevization” generally denotes the process by which, in the 1920s the vari-
ous Communist Parties adopted the Bolshevist Party model of a strictly disciplined orga-
nization that allowed neither individual deviation, no matter how slight, from the official
party line nor the forming of factions within the party. An important element of
Bolshevization was the acceptance of the untouchable authority of the Executive Com-
mittee of the Communist International (ECCI) by the Communist Parties of all countries.
As the example of the RSI shows, the Bolshevization affected not only the relations between
the Comintern and its sections, but also those with its mass organizations. This process, which
can also be described as the progressive destruction of democratic decision making, started for
the RSI with its subordination to the Young Communist International in 1923.
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Table 2: RSI sections and their creation periods
United Kingdom
The Spanish FCDO officially affiliated with the RSI only in 1934, but practically was a RSI section since
its formation in 1931. See Internationale Sportrundschau,
Zeitschrift für Theorie und Praxis der Körperkultur
(Kopenhagen, 1933), pp. 20-24; ibid., 1934, p. 17.
While at the beginning of the 1920s the Comintern still paid little attention to worker
sport, similar to its neglect of mass politics in the field of worker culture, the Young Com-
munist International increasingly considered worker sport a crucial area of involvement.
The Third YCI Congress in 1922 marked a turning point in its political program as far as
sport was concerned. If its policy on sport had hitherto been equivocal and contradictory,
there was now a general consensus that sport should be integrated into communist politics
and especially into communist youth politics since it unquestionably belonged to the
most important leisure activities of working-class youth.
Henceforth, the YCI pursued
new goals, with the aim of taking over a key share of the responsibility for communist
sport policy and thus ultimately of attaining greater significance within the spectrum of
international communist organizations.
The resulting dispute with the RSI over their respective powers was closely connected
with the quarrel which had broken out in 1921 about the organization and control of
Soviet sport, which was claimed by the Russian Communist Youth League, the Komsomol.
This federation wished to create a number of faits accomplis at the international level
which would subsequently be applied to Soviet circumstances.
Late in 1922, the
Comintern intervened in the dispute and, under the influence of the Russian Communist
Party, sided with the YCI.
The organizational “independence” of the RSI was mere
propaganda, as revealed in a secret resolution passed by representatives of the YCI, the
Comintern and the RSI at an assembly in February 1923:
For the purpose of recruiting non-communist elements the R.S.I. is formally
an independent organization which, on the basis of complete legal equality,
works in co-operation with the C.I, the Youth International and the Red Trade
Union International.... In point of fact, the Sportintern executive carries out
its work according to the political directives of the C.I. The Y.C.I. takes particu-
Volume 28, Number 1
lar interest in the work of the Sportintern, and its involvement in sports work
makes a responsible contribution since it is the Y.C.I’s task to influence the
mass of working-class youth active in sports. For this reason the Y.C.I. should
play a particularly active role in the work of the Sportintern.14
The Comintern in fact delegated responsibility for the Sport International to the YCI,
although it reserved the right to have the final say on questions of the Sport International
and take unilateral decisions.15 The representatives of the worker sports movement were
only granted a limited amount of autonomy in sport technical matters.16
At all levels—whether organizational, structural or psychological—the resolutions
passed at the assembly of February 1923 reduced the RSI’s power. This process reached its
completion after the official Bolshevization decisions of the Fifth World Congress of the
Comintern in 1924.17 The RSI was bound even more closely in the structures of the
Comintern, as was made clear by the Comintern secretariat in December 1924 in a confi-
dential memorandum to RSI secretary Fritz Reussner: before the RSI published any form
of proclamation, the contents had to be checked and approved by the secretariat. Further,
the RSI was required to consult the Comintern presidium directly before addressing im-
portant political issues.18 Thus, it was no longer up to the RSI to decide in which cases and
to what extent it should ask the Comintern authorities for advice. Comintern authorities
controlled its publications and even its official and confidential resolutions. Even in ques-
tions of internal organization, especially personnel matters, the supervisory role of the
Comintern took on a more imperial quality.
The RSI headquarters virtually assumed the
role of a Comintern sport committee.20
The ever-increasing political control over RSI personnel went hand in hand with a
loss of creativity and efficiency. Whenever it wished to formulate its aims and intentions,
the RSI leadership had to take the utmost care lest an imprudently chosen term might
arouse even the slightest suspicion of disagreement with the momentarily prevailing po-
litical views and guidelines of the Comintern. Whether the RSI’s directives would be of
any practical use for the activities of the national federations was not only of secondary
importance to the RSI leadership but also, in principle, superfluous: after all, obedience to
the dogma of the infallibility of the Comintern’s policies also meant embodying its firm
belief in the absolute rightness of the instructions which it conveyed to the communist
worker sports movement and which were derived from these policies. Any failures would
necessarily have to be interpreted as an inadequate or inconsistent implementation of the
unerring directives.
Since at the same time the Comintern was increasingly becoming a tool of Soviet
domestic and foreign policy, the RSI’s dependence on the Comintern was accompanied,
almost inevitably, by the Soviet section’s dominance within the RSI. The interests of the
Soviet Union and Soviet sport were decisive factors in the RSI’s decisions and actions—
even if, as was frequently the case, they were incompatible with those of European worker
sport.21 This added handicap to the organization’s activities and reinforced any passive
tendencies that the members of the executive may have had. Given the unconditional
obedience which established itself in the RSI’s executive, the RSI began to resemble the
type of organization which Max Weber, in his conceptualization of legitimate power and
authority,22 defined as having a traditional feudal character. According to Weber, such an
Spring 2001
organization is guided above all by a belief in certain principles and values, which re-
sembles common cult worship; rational thought and efficiency consequently play only a
minor role.
A further facet of the process of Bolshevization is to be seen in the (self-)appointment
of the Comintern-dependent RSI executive as the unassailable authority of the interna-
tional communist worker sport movement, which virtually meant the exclusion of the
rank and file from the decision making process. That little heed was paid to the opinions as
well as the moods prevailing in the sections is revealed by the fact that the Third Congress
in 1924 was also the penultimate congress held by the organization including participa-
tion of elected delegates from the different national federations. The last RSI congress
took place in 1928 in the wake of the Sixth World Congress of the Comintern. It was not
marked in any way by a serious discussion of political or sporting issues; on the contrary,
its main achievement—or misachievement—was to take the highly problematic and ex-
traordinarily hypothetical Comintern resolutions on the tactic “class against class” as well
as the untenable “thesis of social fascism” and apply them entirely without differentiation
to worker sport.
The Enlarged Executive, which consisted of the members of the Executive Commit-
tee and some chosen representatives of the national federations whose task it was, accord-
ing to the statutes,
to control the work of the presidium, was convened somewhat more
frequently (see table 3). However, the meetings primarily served to induce the representa-
Table 3: Most-Important RSI Assemblies
RSI Congresses
July 19-29, 1921 Moscow
2d July 29-31, 1922 Berlin
October 13-21, 1924 Moscow
4th October 23-24, 1928 Moscow
Meetings of the Enlarged Executive (“Plenary meetings”)
February 7-13, 1923 Moscow
January 28, 1925 Moscow
May 17-22, 1926 Moscow
November 10-16, 1927 Moscow
May 31-June 3, 1929 Charkow
July 14-17, 1931 Berlin
September 2-3, 1933 Amsterdam
March 7-8, 1936 Prague
The 7th and the 8th plenary meetings were called “RSI conferences” by the RSI.
Volume 28, Number 1
tives of the communist worker sports movement to follow the official party line and to
convince the outside world that a kind of democratic functioning persisted in the organi-
zation. In fact, the resolutions were formulated by the executive after consultation with
the Comintern, submitted to the assemblies and, as a rule, passed unanimously.
This whole system functioned all the more easily since at the national level, the com-
munist parties made sure that only reliable party comrades found their way to the top of
the RSI sections.25 Ideological deviations of individual members were regarded as nonob-
servance of party discipline, and punished accordingly. It is small wonder, then, that the
participants of RSI assemblies were almost exclusively members of communist parties and
that the fluctuation of the participants was extraordinarily high. Among the 107 partici-
pants at the congresses held in 1924 and 1928 and at the meeting of the Enlarged Execu-
tive in 1926 whose names could be identified, only a negligible proportion (7 persons)
took part in more than one assembly, and only Secretary Fritz Reussner and President
Nikolai Podwoiski were present at all three.26 The two persons who indicated on their
participant forms that they were not members of a communist party or youth organiza-
tion were nonetheless closely associated with the communist movement.27
Limits of One-Sided Party Politics: The Membership
Communist Party domination at the executive level of the federations was not replicated
in the membership structure of the RSI sections. These cross-party organizations were
made up of predominantly male members of communist, social democratic, anarchist,
and syndicalist tendencies, as well as many who belonged to no party, as the RSI noted in
1931.28 With regard to social structure, the majority was from the working-class but the
RSI federations’ membership also included white-collar workers, state employees, and
Unfortunately, no detailed statistics are available on the exact number of communist
party members in the RSI sections. However, it is safe to assume that this group repre-
sented a minority of the whole membership of each section. In the French federation, the
Fédération Sportive du Travail (FST), the number of Communist Party members did not
exceed ten percent.30 The corresponding figure for the German RSI section, the
Kampfgemeinschaft für rote Sporteinheit (Combat Association for Red Sport Unity) was
probably scarcely higher31—many members, incidentally, belonged to the SPD, the So-
cial Democratic Party of Germany32—while in the Czechoslovakian federation approxi-
mately 20-30% of the members were also Communist Party members, undoubtedly the
highest ratio of all the RSI sections.33 Consequently, it may be safely inferred that the
exclusively communist content of the RSI’s program failed to attract the interest of the
worker athletes due to their differing values. The fact that people who were not commu-
nists nevertheless joined RSI federation clubs in order to pursue their sporting activities
was probably due to the relatively small effect that RSI programs had in day-to-day club
life. Practicing sport, entering competitions, and taking part in the club’s social activities
in a predominantly proletarian environment were the major factors which bound mem-
bers together despite all the ideological divisions between the parties. Just as in other
worker clubs, independent social mechanisms, which deviated more or less markedly from
the parties’ goals, were able to assert themselves.34
Spring 2001
The affiliation of a worker sport club with a communist sport federation should by no
means be equated with its adherence to the goals of the Communist Party. Purely sporting
aspects were more often than not the decisive factors for individuals’ decisions to join.
After the early split in the French worker sports movement in 1923, for example, almost
all the clubs in and around Paris joined the RSI section, whether or not their members
were Socialist or Communist Party sympathizers, thus allowing competitions and league
tables to continue as before.35 In 1924 the democratic election of a socialist as chairman of
the Comité régional de la Seine, the main regional federation of the communist FST, cre-
ated an “intolerable situation” from the point of view of the French Communist Party.36
The split within the federation led to only a small number of splits within clubs, which in
itself indicates that political and ideological issues were less significant than the social life
of the club.37
A similar development appears in Germany. After the split in the Arbeiter-Turn-und
Sportbund (ATSB) in 1928-29, without exception the soccer clubs of the communist-
dominated Berlin-Brandenburg regional federation joined the communist worker sport
organization, while in other regions this organization was scarcely able to establish itself for
reasons connected with sport: in search of the most attractive sports facilities, even clubs
sympathetic to the communist movement rejoined the social-democratic ATSB. Just as in
France, party-political leanings played a less significant role than the sporting identity of
the club community. Despite the split in the German worker sports movement, no great
distinction was made between social democrat and communist members at the club level.
Because of their relatively loose ties with the respective communist parties, but also in
part on account of their everyday attitudes, worker sportsmen by no means came up to the
Start of the 2x20m relay at a Berlin worker sport indoor festival, 1927.
Proletariersport: Organ für
proletarisch-physische Kultur,
1927 (2): 4
Volume 28, Number 1
RSI’s expectations of well-organized revolutionary combat groups. Parisian soccer players
of the FST took advantage of their matches in the provinces to go on extensive drinking
bouts and made a name for themselves for their singing of offensive songs rather than for
their renditions of the classic repertoire of revolutionary anthems. According to one
functionary of the federation, they only had club camaraderie in their heads; prole-
tarian awareness was completely foreign to them.39 Even many of the 28 FST ath-
letes who traveled to Moscow for the first international Spartakiad in 1928 seemed
to have misunderstood the real purpose of their “mission” and were intent on turning
their visit—designed to further their political education-into a holiday trip for their own
amusement.40 And some French worker sportsmen fell hopelessly short of the functionar-
ies’ expectations at the Spartakiad held in Lyon in 1932,41 dubbing fellow-athletes from
other countries sales étrangers (dirty foreigners)42—which does not exactly reflect any hint
of proletarian internationalism.
Although in 1931 the Communist Party of Germany attested to the laudable state of
preparedness for political action which prevailed in the Kampfgemeinschaft für rote
Sporteinheit, this was probably true for only a minority of worker-athletes. Top officials of
the soccer section (which was the most important section of the Kampfgemeinschaft, with
around 36% of the total membership43) continued to censure players and sometimes even
functionaries for their lack of enthusiasm for political work and their fixation on sporting
matters.44 Ernst Grube, chairman of the Kampfgemeinschaft and member of the Central
Committee of the Communist Party of Germany, noted in 1932 that the different sport
sections were mainly preoccupied with their own affairs and condemned their lack of
political awareness.45
In France, the majority of Party members who were enrolled in FST clubs refrained
from any attempts to indoctrinate non-party members, since they regarded their practices
in the worker sport federation as a leisure activity outside the political sphere. There were
virtually no cases of clubs forming “communist factions”, as urged by the RSL.46 Many
members of the Communist Party of Germany reacted similarly, and “regarded worker
clubs as scarcely the place for zealous missionary work and converting members but as
places for regeneration, getting together or simply for taking the opportunity of furthering
talents that had fallen into disuse.”47
Closing the Gap Between Leadership and Rank and File: The Sport Element
In the ultra-leftist phase (1928-34) of the Comintern, which was marked by a (self-)
destructive fight with the social democratic “archenemy of the working-class,” the RSI
revealed itself to be even less capable than before of coherent analysis of the situation in
worker sport. It issued, for example, the same general directives to both the German and
French worker sports movements, even though they were operating within different social
and political contexts, especially after Hitler’s seizure of power in 1933, and going through
very different phases of development.48 In doing so, it was merely following the instruc-
tions of the Comintern, however counterproductive these may have been. The RSI ap-
plied to perfection the same principle that drove the communist movement: the total
disregard of political realities, or alternatively their reinterpretation consistent with Stalinist
or Comintern analyses.
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The RSI defends the Soviet Union: Poster of the 2d International Spartakiad of the Red Sport
International (Berlin, 1931). Reprinted from Wolfgang Eichel, ed., Illustrierte Geschichte der
Körperkultur (Berlin: Sportverlag 1984).
Volume 28, Number 1
These findings, however, can only claim to be entirely valid as to the RSI’s political
program. Things were quite different as far as the RSI’s conception of its sport work was
concerned. Here, the priority given to winning over the masses proved to be a link be-
tween the RSI’s leadership and worker sportsmen: the RSI was at pains to meet the wishes
of worker sportsmen for an attractive and varied range of sport, independently from ideo-
logical considerations. This principle, which appeared most clearly after the increase in
section membership at the end of the 1920s49 (see Table 1, page 24, and Table 2, page 26),
was reconcilable with the Comintern’s political expectations of the RSI, even if, essentially,
it meant bringing the sporting contents in line with the practice of sport in bourgeois
clubs. Thus, the “Resolution on Methodical and Technical Work”50 passed by the RSI
Plenary Meeting in Berlin51 in July 1931 emphasized the fact that no sport should be
excluded which aroused the interest of the “broad masses.” Moreover, national differences
were also to be taken into account; in the United States, for example, football was to be
introduced into the daily practice of the worker sports federation. The question of the
effects on health of American football (which the RSI called “rugby”) was not raised; it was
only noted in this connection that “conservatism in methods and technical work [was] at
the expense of influence over the masses.”52
In this way the RSI, despite its original intentions, chose not to draw up a theory of
“proletarian physical culture” with a special communist essence and put it into practice.53
It attempted, rather, to appropriate the contents of the dominant bourgeois culture and
endow it with new political meaning. Its discourses neatly severed competitive sport from
its individualistic contents, relating it instead to the collective requirements of the class
struggle.54 There is no evidence, however, to prove that worker sport contests were in
actual fact carried out in a “different spirit” from those organized by bourgeois sport clubs.
The problem of not being able to enforce certain behavioral norms was one that affected
the communist and social democratic worker sports movement alike. As early as 1920, for
instance, the social democratic newspaper Volksstimme [The People’s Voice] deplored “our
youth’s interest in sport which is solely concerned with contest and victory.”55
The situation depicted above can be summarized in the following terms, borrowed
from sociologist Joachim Raschke: the communist worker sport movement (like its social
democratic counterpart) was not a cultural but a power-oriented movement.56 It oper-
ated, it is true, in the field of everyday culture; but at the same time it subordinated its
activities to the goals of the Communist Parties—increasing and exerting political power.
Its aim was not so much to change existing cultural practices but rather—with a view to
gaining political influence—to claim the dominant culture as its own and reinterpret it for
its own purposes. Moreover, it was the bourgeois and the socialist youth movements,
rather than the worker sport movement, that introduced stronger alternative elements of
physical culture, since the former saw themselves more as culture-oriented movements.57
In the RSI, an incompatibility became apparent between political activism on behalf
of the Comintern and any ambition to bring about cultural innovation—which at the
same time, however, lead to a greater compatibility between program contents and mem-
bers’ needs and wishes. Despite the fact that the RSI regarded individuals as collective
tools of the Parry and constantly strove to harness worker sport to meet the goals of the
communist movement, working-class sportsmen were able to assert their interests not
Spring 2001 33
only at the level of everyday sports practice but also in the federation’s theoretical sports
conceptions. Nevertheless, the RSI leadership and the rank and file basically lived in two
different social environments: one was the world of the Party functionaries, the other the
world of worker sportsmen. The sources on communist worker sport do not confirm the
distinction made by the French historian of communism Annie Kriegel between represen-
tatives of the party machinery, the “pure politicians” on the one hand, and party activists
who carried on their work in the mass organizations on the other. In Kriegel’s view, the
functionaries of the mass organizations were distinguishable because they were often “more
flexible, more attentive and more sensitive” towards their surroundings and less doctri-
This may be true of the lower levels of the mass organizations—at the level of club
officials-but not at the leadership level, where the functionaries adopted the language
and the behavior of the parry machinery down to the last detail.59
A considerable difference, if not to say a sharp contrast, is to be found, on the other
hand, between the functionaries in charge of the RSI sections and ordinary members.
Whereas the former belonged to a social group which defined itself politically, the latter
were bound together chiefly by their interest in sport in general, or one type of sport in
particular, as well as in most cases a working-class background. The federation officials,
Start of an unspecified cycling event at a Berlin worker sport festival, 1927.
Proletariersport: Organ
für proletarisch-physische Kultur,
1927 (2): 5
Volume 28, Number 1
Party members almost without exception, were obliged to observe the written and unwrit-
ten laws of the Party, which laid down strict rules for their behavior. Worker sportsmen,
the great majority of whom were not Party members, had much greater freedom. They
were able to decide themselves how far they were willing to follow the political program of
the federation’s leadership.
When Ernst Grube declared, in the Party’s typical fashion, that “worker sport has nothing
in common with the petty bourgeoisie’s craving for freedom; it is Marxist class war on all
fronts of sport and physical exercise,” he was perhaps conveying the wishful thinking of
the Communist Party of Germany but not historical reality.60 Even so, the fact that worker
sportsmen usually joined a worker sport club in order to participate in sport, not for
political motives—joining the Party itself would have been a much more suitable option if
this was the case—was found difficult to accept by the RSI leadership.
If one returns to the essential characteristics of the RSI, one finds the special nature of
this organization above all at the structural level. The RSI pursued, first of all, not only the
clear political aims as did the LSI (i.e., waging the class struggle); it also functioned as a
constituent part of a political organization—the Cornintern—and, above all, adopted its
repressive structure. Secondly, it was in the service of a specific country (the Soviet Union)
which was presented as the “fatherland of all proletarians,” and thus, as a principle of its
work, put the interests of a single section above those of all the other member federations.
It was in this respect that the RSI differed from all other international sports organiza-
tions—not only from the International Olympic Committee (with which it shared the
same lack of democratic structures) and the international federations of the bourgeois
sports movement, but also from the Lucerne Sport International, which operated accord-
ing to democratic principles and ensured that the largest sections, as measured by the size
of the membership, did not dominate the smaller federations.61
Nevertheless, in these respects the RSI did not differ from other communist mass
organizations, which were equally affected by the Comintern’s transformation into a tool
of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in shaping its domestic and foreign policies.
What distinguished the RSI from these related organizations was ultimately the scope of
its mission, which was restricted to the sport movement. In the day-to-day running of the
clubs, there was scarcely any difference between the RSI sections and the social democratic
worker sports movement, from which, after all, the majority of the RSI federations devel-
The disparity between the Comintern’s political program and the day-to-day running
of the clubs, and between the leadership and rank and file was so great that the RSI can be
described as a split organization, living in two universes. With regard to the political dis-
courses and the bureaucratic centralism of its institutional structures, the RSI was a typical
communist organization, shaped on the model of communist parties. At club level and
from the point of view of the behavior of the majority of the club members the RSI
displayed features of a proletarian sports movement with social-democratic traditions, in
which politics certainly played a role—but not a decisive one.
Spring 2001
This name was officially adopted by the 2nd RSI Congress in Berlin 1922. See “Originalstenogramm
der Verhandlungen der 2ten Konferenz der Roten Sportinternationale, abgehalten am 29., 30. und
31. Juli 1922 in Berlin,“ in Russian Center for the Preservation and Study of Documents of Modern
History, Rossiiskii tstentr khraneniia i izucheniia dokumentov noveishei istorii (hereinafter Rossiiskii
), 537 I 3. For a detailed account of the history of the Red Sport International, see André
Gounot, “Intentionen, Strukturen und Funktionen einer kommunistischen ‘Massenorganisation’:
Die Rote Sportinternationale zwischen Komintern-Politik und den Ansprüchen des europäischen
Arbeitersports” [Intentions, Structures and Functions of a Communist “Mass Organization“: The
Red Sport International between Comintern Politics and the Demands of European Working-Class
Sports] (Ph.D. diss., Freie Universität Berlin, 1998).
“Provisorisches Statut des Internationalen Verbandes roter Sport- und Turnvereine,” in State Ar-
chives of the Russian Federation,
Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv Rossiiskoi Federatsii
(GARF), 75 76/2/2.
On the foundation and the end of the RSI, see André Gounot, “Sport réformiste ou sport
révolutionnaire? Les débuts des Internationales sportives ouvrières”, in ed. Pierre Arnaud,
Les origines
du sport ouvrier en Europe
(Paris: L’Harmattan, 1994), 219-46; André Gounot, “Between Revolu-
tionary Demands and Diplomatic Necessity: The Uneasy Relationship between Soviet Sport and
Worker and Bourgeois Sport in Europe from 1920 to 1937”, in ed. James Riordan and Pierre
Sport and International Politics: Impact of Fascism and Communism
(London: Chapman &
Hall, 1998), 184-209.
In 1926 there were no more than 127,000 members in the RSI sections outside the Soviet Union.
The greatest membership was reached in 1931, around 280,000. By comparison, the LSI, renamed
“Socialist Worker Sports International” (SWSI) in 1928, had almost 1.9 million members in 1931,
although it must be added that 1.2 million of them were German (see Table 1, page 24). The
relations between the RSI and the LSI were first examined by David Steinberg, “Sport Under Red
Flags! The Relations Between the Red Sport International and the Socialist Workers’ Sport Interna-
tional 1920-1939” (Ph.D. diss., University of Wisconsin, 1979).
Germany, France, Italy, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Sweden and the Netherlands. See the minutes of
the sessions of the RSI founding conference, in
Rossiiskii tstentr,
537 I 1.
This assumption is made by James Riordan in his article “Arbeitersport in einem Arbeiterstaat: Die
in ed. Arnd Krüger and James Riordan, Der internationale Arbeitersport (Köln: Pahl/
Rugenstein, 1985), 54. In the English version of this article (“Worker Sport Within a Worker State:
The Soviet Union”), in ed. Arnd Krüger and James Riordan,
The Story of Worker Sport
IL: Human Kinetics, 1996), 61, Riordan states that the RSI was founded by representatives from
worker sports organizations. This is not right, since only one of the founding members, the German
Bruno Lieske, actually had a function in a worker sports organization. Unfortunately, the latter
book reproduces almost exclusively the articles of the earlier German book, and thus does not take
advantage of the opening of the most important archives in Eastern Europe after the fall of the
communist systems.
“Resolution zur Frage der physischen Erziehung der Arbeiterklasse”, in
Thesen und Resolutionen des
fünften Weltkongresses der Kommunistischen Internationale, vom 17. Juni bis 8. Juli 1924 (Milan:
Feltrinelli, 1967), 154-55.
Primarily the “Sportintern (1921-1937)” collection contained in the Comintern Archives in Mos-
cow (item No. 537), which are incorporated into the
Rossiiskii tstentr
collection. This documenta-
tion, which was viewed during two studies in Moscow in 1994 and 1997, comprises the written
material produced and compiled by the RSI executive and is by far the world’s most important
source of information on the international communist worker sports movement. Gosudarstvennyi
arkhiv Rossiiskoi Federatsii
(GARF) [State Archives of the Russian Federation] is another rich source,
especially for documentation on “Supreme Council of Physical Culture, Department of Interna-
tional Sports Relations” (item No. 75 76/2). Other sources include the Bibliothèque marxiste (Ar-
chives of the Communist Party of France) in Paris, which possesses various documents on worker
sport,; the Archives nationales (Paris) with the collection “Propagande communiste par sociétés
Volume 28, Number 1
sportives, 1925-1932” (AN, F7/13137); the “Stiftung Archiv der Parteien und Massenorganisationen
der DDR im Bundesarchiv” in Berlin, documentation on the Communist Party of Germany, Cen-
tral Committee (item RY 1/I 2/710); and periodicals published by the RSI and of the German and
French worker movements and worker sports movements.
On the Bolshevization process see Stéphane Courtois and Marc Lazar,
Histoire du Parti communiste
(Paris: PUF, 1995), 85-99; Hermann Weber,
Die Wandlung des deutschen Kommunismus.
Die Stalinisierung der KPD in der Weimarer Republik, 2 vol. (Frankfurt am Main, 1969); Klaus-
Michael Mallmann, Kommunisten in der Weimarer Republik. Sozialgeschichte einer revolutionären
(Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1996), 65-68.
For accounts of the history of the Communist International, see Kevin MacDermott and Jeremy
Agnew, The Comintern: A History of International Communism from Lenin to Stalin (London:
Macmillan, 1996); Pierre Broué, Histoire de l’Internationale communiste (Paris: Librairie Arthème
Fayard, 1997); Mikhail Narinsky and Jürgen Rojahn, Centre and Periphery: The History of the
Comintern in the Light of New Documents (Amsterdam: International Instiute of Social History,
See Bericht vom 3. Weltkongreß der Kommunistischen Jugendinternationale. Vom 4.-16 Dezember
1922 in Moskau (Berlin, 1923), 207-19; Im Zeichen der Arbeit. Resolutionen und Beschlüsse des 3.
Kongresses der Kommunistischen Jugendinternationale
(Berlin, 1923), 47-48; “Unsere Sporttaktik,”
4/5: 4 (Jan. 1923).
“Vertraulich. Nur für die Organe der K.J. und nicht für die Sportintern bestimmt. Bericht über die
Exekutivsitzung der Roten Sportinternationale” (confidential report from Jacques Doriot, member
of the executive committees of YCI and RSI, on the Plenary meeting in February 1923), in
537 I 75. See also the retirement declaration from Bruno Lieske, “Berlin, im August 1925”,
Rossiiskii tstentr,
537 I 104.
“EK der KI an den Genossen Neurath, an die Sportintern, Exekutive der Jugendinternationale und
an die Budgetkommission. Moskau, den 16.12.1922” [Letter Disclosing the Decisions of the Meet-
ing of the Comintern Presidium, 15 Dec. 1922], in
Rossiiskii tstentr,
537 I 45.
“Geheimresolution über die Beziehungen zwischen der Sportintern, der KI, der Jugendintern und
der RGI” [Secret Resolution on the Relations between the RSI, the CI, the YCI and the Red Trade
Union International], drafted at the 1923 plenary meeting, in
Rossiiskii tstentr,
537 I 82. The docu-
ment is also available in
Rossiiskii tstentr,
537 I 46.
Young Communist Leagues played a significant role in worker sports movements of various coun-
tries. On the Canadian case, see Bruce Kidd, “Worker Sport in the New World: The Canadian
Story”, in ed. Krüger and Riordan,
The Story of Worker Sport,
“Unsere Sporttaktik”, in
4/5: 4 (Jan. 1923).
On this congress, see Annie Kriegel, “La IIIe Internationale,” in ed. Jacques Droz,
Histoire générale
du socialisme,
Vol. 3 (Paris: PUF, 1977), 84-86.
“Vertraulich. EKKI an Reussner, 8. Dez. 1924” [confidentential letter from the Executive Commit-
tee of the Communistist Internationale to RSI secretary Fritz Reussner], in
Rossiiskii tstentr,
537 I
“Über die inneren Fragen der RSI” [Internal Matters of the RSI], confidential report, undated
[1926], in
Rossiiskii tstentr,
537 I 125; “Sekretariat der Roten Sportinternationale an das Sekretariat
der Komintern. Moskau, den 12.II.26”, in
Rossiiskii tstentr,
537 I 129; “Streng vertraulich: An das
Sekretariat der Komintern, Moskau, den 8. März 1926” [Strictly Confidential: To the Comintern
Secretariat], from the RSI secretariat, in
Rossiiskii tstentr,
537 I 129.
“An die Mitglieder des Präsidiums des EK der RSI. Moskau, 10.4.25” [To the Members of the
Presidium of the RSI], letter from RSI secretary Fritz Reussner, in
Rossiiskii tstentr,
537 I 104.
For details of the relationship between Soviet sport and the RSI, see Gounot, “Between Revolution-
ary Demands and Diplomatic Necessity”; André Gounot,
“L’Internationale rouge sportive et son
rôle d’institution de propagande soviétique à Pétranger,” in ed. Thierry Terret and Jean-Philippe
Spring 2001
Le sport français pendant l’entre-deux-guerres. Regards croisés sur les influences étrangères
(Paris: L’Harmattan, 2000), 199-242.
Max Weber,
Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft: Grundriß der verstehenden Soziologie,
ed. J. Winckelmann
(Tübingen, 1972), 70-81.
“Resolution über die Kriegsgefahr und die Aufgaben der Arbeitersportverbände” [Resolution on
the War Danger and the Tasks of the Worker Sports Federations], Fourth RSI Congress (1928), in
Rossiiskii tstentr,
537 I 25. “Class against class” meant vigorously fighting the socialist/social-demo-
cratic movement, which the Comintern accused of serving the imperialistic aims of a bourgeoisie
manifestly drifting towards fascism and thus defending a “social fascist” ideology.
Proletariersport Organ für proletariscb-physische Kultur
No. 6: 93 (1926). This RSI journal was pub-
lished in Berlin.
For a more detailed description see Gounot, “Intentionen, Strukturen und Funktionen,” 158-80.
Data on persons have been found in “Statistik der Delegierten der Sektionen und Fraktionen zum
III. Kongreß der RSI, der im Oktober 1924 stattgefunden hat” [Statistics on the Delegates at the
Third RSI Congress], in
Rossiiskii tstentr,
537 I 17; “Enquette für die Delegierten der Erweiterten
Exekutivsitzung der RSI” [Data on the Participants of the RSI Plenary Meeting], 1926, in
537 I 55; “Enquette für die Delegierten der Erweiterten Exekutivsitzung der RSI” [Data on
the Participants of the RSI Congress], 1928), in
Rossiiskii tstentr,
537 I 27.
The Canadian Marriott was employed by the Young Communist League of Canada, see “Enquette,”
1928, in
Rossiiskii tstentr,
537 I 27), and the British representative Sinfield was well-known in En-
gland as a personage in the communist movement (see Steven Jones,
Sport, Politics and the Working
(New York: St. Martins Press, 1989), 79-81.
Internationaler Arbeitersport: Zeitschrift für Fragen der internationalen revolutionären
Aug. 1931, 303.
Ibid. From the police files on the
Fédération sportive du Travail
(AN, F7/13137) which also contain
information on place of birth and status of club members, one can infer that 80% of the
members belonged to the working class.
“Section sportive centrale du Parti Communiste aux directions des régions d’entente, de rayons du
P.C. et J.C. et des fractions sportives”, no date [1929], in AN, F7/13137.
See Herbert Dierker, Arbeitersport im Spannungsfeld der Zwanziger Jahre: Sportpolitik und
Alltagserfahrungen auf internationaler, deutscher und Berliner Ebene (Essen: Klartext, 1990), 170-
An overview in Kriegel, “La IIIe Internationale,” 113, shows that of the 92,691 members of the
Communist Party in 1927, 16,160 also belonged to the worker sport federation. In this period the
worker sport federation had around 80,000 members.
On the situation in Germany, see Viola Denecke,
Die Arbeitersportgemeinschaft. Eine kulturhistorische
Studie über die Braunschweiger Arbeitersportbewegung in den zwanziger Jahren
(Duderstadt: Mecke,
1990), 83-93, 198-207; Mallmann, Kommunisten, 166-81; Eike Stiller, Jugend im Arbeitersport:
Lebenswelten im Spannungsfeld von Verbandkultur und Sozialmilieu von 1893-1933
(Münster: Lit,
1995), 68-74, 231-39, 262-72.
L’Avant-Garde ouvrière et communiste: Organe officiel de la Fédération Nationale des Jeunesses
(Paris), No. 51, 8-23 Aug. 1923.
“Compte-rendu de la seance du Bureau politique du PCF (26 décembre 1924),” in Bibliothèque
(Paris), 21 Aug.-20 Sep. 1923;
Sport Ouvrier: Organe bi-mensuel de la Fédération Sport-
ive du Travail, Section française de ;’Internationale Rouge Sportive
Nos. 3 (10 Sep. 1923) and 4 (20
Sep. 1923) (Paris).
See Dierker,
Arbeitersport im Spannungsfeld,
168-86. See also Mallmann,
Volume 28, Number 1
No. 3 (10 Sep. 1923).
“Secret. Rapport concernant la délégation sportive de la FST Française venue à la Spartakiade de
Moscou” [Secret Report on the French Delegation], in
Rossiiskii tstentr,
537 II 152.
In 1932, the RSI invited its sections to organize Spartakiads as counter-events to the Olympic
Games held in Los Angeles. The Labor Sports Union of America, which had affiliated with the RSI
in 1927, staged a Spartakiad in Chicago. See W.S. Baker, “Muscular Marxism and the Counter-
Olympics of 1932,”
International Journal of the History of Sport 9:
397-410 (1992).
“Note de la Prefecture de Police du Rhône, Lyon, le 22 Juin 1932,” in AN, F7/13137.
Hg. von der Reichsspartenleitung der Fußballsparte der KG für rote Sporteinheit [Leadership of the
Football Section, Combat Association for Red Sport Unity], 40 Jahre Arbeitersport: Die aktuellen
Aufgaben der roten Fußballer [40 Years of Worker Sport. The Current Tasks of Red Footballers]
(Berlin: undated (
1933)), 2.
44. Ibid., 2-4.
Ernst Grube,
Warum rote Sporteinheit?
(Berlin: undated (
ca. 1932)), 6.
Bulletin Sportif: Edité par la Commission centrale sportive du Parti et de la Jeunesse Communiste: Organe
intérieur des fractions communistes dans la F.S.T.
No date (1929), in AN, F7/13137.
See Gounot, “Intentionen, Stukturen und Funktionen,” 245-55.
Most of them were created as result of splits “from above,” caused by the growing incompatibility of
the communist and social democratic positions, especially after 1928 in the wake of the propagation
of the “theory of social fascism” and implemented by the federations’ leadership.
Printed in
Internationaler Arbeitersport
No. 8: 312-23 (1931).
The RSI office moved from Moscow to Berlin in 1930.
Internationaler Arbeitersport,
No. 8: 321.
Die Rote Fahne: Zentralorgan der Kommunistischen Partei Deutschlands
[The Red Flag: Central
Journal of the German Communist Party], 25 Aug. 1921.
This increased after 1928 under the effect of the “class against class” tactic. The prospectus signed by
Ernst Grube and diffused by the Kampfgemeinschaft [People’s Struggle] in
Warum rote Sporteinheit?
provides a remarkable example of this.
19 Apr. 1920, quoted in Mallmann,
On this distinction, see Joachim Raschke, “Zum Begriff der sozialen Bewegung,” in ed. Roland
Roth and Dieter Rucht, Neue soziale Bewegungen in Deutschland (Frankfurt am Main: Campus
Verlag, 1987), 19-29.
See Jörg Wetterich,
Bewegungskultur und Körpererziehung in der sozialistischen Jugendarbeit 1893 bis
1933: Lebensstile und Bewegungskonzepte im Schnittpunkt von Arbeitersportbewegung und
(Münster/Hamburg: Lit, 1973).
Annie Kriegel,
Les communistes français
(Paris: Edition du Seuil, 1985), 184.
This is perfectly illustrated by the official statement of the FST executive against dissidents in
24 Nov. 1927.
Warum rote Sporteinheit?,
See the minutes of the LSI congress in Paris 1925. Internationaler Sozialistischer Verband für
Arbeitersport und Körperkultur,
Bericht über den III. Kongreß zu Paris-Pantin, 31. Oktober, 1. und 2.
November 1925.
Spring 2001
... Теоретической базой исследования послужили публикации российских и зарубежных авторов, таких как С. А. Абдулкаримов [1], Н. М. Боголюбова, Ю. В. Николаева [2; 3], Г. С. Деметер [8], А. Б. Суник [17], В. Н. Платонов [20], Андре Гуно [22], Дэвид Стейнберг [25], Роберт Уиллер [27] и др., в которых рассматриваются различные аспекты международного взаимодействия в спортивной сфере. Практическая значимость исследования заключается в том, что раскрываемая в статье характеристика различных этапов сотрудничества России и стран Северной Европы в области спорта может быть использована в образовательном процессе, а также может способствовать дальнейшему изучению роли спорта в межгосударственных отношениях. ...
This book is about interwar physical culture as a set of popular practices and as a field of ideas. It takes as its central subject the imagined failure of French manhood that was mapped out in this realm by physical culturist 'experts', often physicians. Their diagnosis of intertwined crises in masculine virility and national vitality was surprisingly widely shared across popular and political culture. Theirs was a hygienist and sometimes overtly eugenicist conception of physical exercise and national strength that suggests the persistence of fin-de-siécle preoccupations with biological degeneration and regeneration well beyond the First World War. The book traces these patterns of thinking about the male body across a seemingly disparate set of voices, all of whom argued that the physical training of men offered a salve to France's real and imagined woes. In interrogating a range of sources, from get-fit manuals and the popular press, to the mobilizing campaigns of popular politics on left and right and official debates about physical education, the book illustrates how the realm of male physical culture could be presented as an instrument of social hygiene as well as an instrument of political struggle. In highlighting the purchase of these concerns in the interwar years, the book ultimately sheds light on the roots of Vichy's project for masculine regeneration after the military defeat of 1940.
Full-text available
This qualitative research is focused on the use of Workers’ Sport movement, which effected most parts of the world during the inter-war period in terms of political socialization, as a social change device of societies and its direct and indirect effects on Early Republican Turkey which was founded during the same period. At the beginning of the research the conceptual frame of political socialization is presented and afterwards the historical and philosophical foundations of Workers’ Sport are brought into discussion. Thus the relationship between Workers’ Sport and modern sport, the contradictions and internal conflicts of Workers’ Sport movement is debated. In the second part of the research detailed information on national and international organizational models of Workers’ Sport is presented. The second part of the research which focuses on Turkey starts with the discussions on the ideological foundations of Republican Turkey and the social facts and institutions on which these foundations are built, then the effects of physical education and sport policies with reference to political socialization process of the new nation is elaborated. At the end of the research it is pointed out that a real national level Workers’ Sport organization has never occurred in Turkey, still workers’ sport as a strong social and political cultural movement, had various effects on the Turkish physical education and sport policies. Keywords: Political socialization, political culture, bio-politics, political psychology, class, working class, physical education and sport.
On 5 march 1919 twenty-five members of the Muskerry Foxhounds from east Cork rode out. The Muskerry’s master, Jerry Rohan, was not present. For several weeks he had sought a compromise that would see local Sinn Féin activists end their campaign to stop fox-hunting, but by early March he had conceded defeat, leading the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) inspector for the area to report that the Muskerry had abandoned their sport for the year. Master or no master, however, twenty-five defiant members set off that morning, and according to the correspondent of the Freeman’s Journal, at first “all went merrily” and there “was abundant promise of good day’s sport.” Early on, two men on foot attempted to persuade the hunters to stop, but after a brief conversation the spoilsports were ignored and the incident was momentarily forgotten when a fox appeared, offering the opportunity of a chase. When that fortunate animal eluded them, the hunters moved on to the townland of Ballyshoneen. There the unusual action began. As the hunters prepared to rouse a new quarry, they heard the sound of whistles that signaled the arrival of fifty to sixty Sinn Féin supporters. This group adopted a vigorously persuasive approach. Wielding hurleys and sticks, they immediately set upon the hounds and horses. When a Catholic clergyman, who was among the hunting party, demanded that the attackers desist, he was, in the words of the Freeman’s prolix euphemism, “answered by an opprobrious sally of unseemly names and epithets.” Hurleys, sticks, and stones were met with riding crops, but soon the hunt was in full retreat, withdrawing to the sound of a revolver shot and the shouted question, “Now will you obey Sinn Féin and the orders of our executive?”1 This incident was among the final confrontations in an almost forgotten campaign that saw radical nationalists wreak widespread disruption upon the activities of Ireland’s hunt enthusiasts during the early months of 1919.2 The Irish revolution of 1912 to 1923 has been explored in ever more depth and using a variety of approaches in recent years, but as yet scholars have written comparatively little about the ways in which the profound instability of this period, punctuated with violence, affected the quotidian of Irish life. To what degree did the series of political crises that together constitute this “revolution” impact upon the day-to-day? To what extent, and in what ways, did commonplace practices become sites of contest? Irish sporting life is an obvious place to explore these questions because sport is one of the most significant markers of identity in modern societies. Fox-hunting is not a product of the Victorian sports revolution. It is not a mass participation sport today and it was not one in 1919, but it did have deep roots in rural Ireland, and local hunts impacted upon the lives of many who did not themselves ride to hounds. Indeed, it was in part this combination of exclusivity and pervasiveness that exposed the hunt to attack. This article will explore the origins of the campaign, the pattern of its progress, the motivations of those who participated, and the responses of those for whom it posed challenges or questions. In doing so, it will throw into relief aspects of Ireland’s multilayered revolutionary conflict and provide an alternative angle from which to view the contests around political identity, class identity, space, and legitimate authority that marked Irish provincial society at the beginning of 1919. The “stopping the hunt” campaign of 1919 originated in the exuberance that followed Sinn Féin’s triumph at the general election of December 1918. Increasingly confident, the party pressured the British government to release the large number of political prisoners incarcerated in England and Ireland. They focused in particular upon a group of ninety-six internees held at seven English prisons.3 Many of these had been arrested in May 1918 when the authorities, intent upon a more aggressive policy in Ireland, justified their actions on the grounds of a “criminal conspiracy” among advanced nationalists to cooperate with Germany. The evidence for a “German plot...
This article explores the global dimension of communism during the interwar period. It criticizes a literature that either depicts communist parties as small ‘red armies’ obeying any order from Moscow, or focuses exclusively on the local level and ignores any international aspects. The article first discusses attempts of communist leaders to create a ‘world party’ based in Moscow. It next analyses the conflicts between a globally acting communist leadership and rank-and-file members concerned about their local circumstances. Finally, it highlights the role that internationalism played on the local level. Such an approach – which locates ‘the global’ on the local level, both in terms of how internationalist ideas informed people's behaviour in local contexts and in terms of how they resisted forms of globalism – might provide a means for bridging the gap between global and local histories.
Industrialisation developed in Europe particularly in the aftermath of the First World War, surfing the wave generated by an increasing need for reconstruction and modernisation in Western societies. In this context, the issue of workers’ physical fitness became an economic concern for both industry leaders and governments. Focus was on Ergonomics, as seen by the creation of the Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors in the UK in September 1949, and the publication of its journal Ergonomics in 1957. In France, the concern for enhancing a worker's performance through systematic training reached its climax in the mid 1950s. A doctrine was locally elaborated by educators and paved the way for a wider diffusion of new concepts, with France and at a later stage other European countries, organising several international congresses on the topic. The first three of these meetings, held in Paris in 1954, Brussels in 1958 and Helsinki in 1959 were of particular importance. There, the French perspectives took an important place in the final recommendations and resulted in the creation of the commission ‘Sport and Work’ within the International Council for Physical Education and Sport, and with the support of UNESCO.
This paper examines the conditions in which sports history appeared in France at the end of the 1960s and its development during the last three decades. It argues that the first works were strongly influenced by the place of physical education and by the new forms of social and cultural history, the structuralist sociology of Pierre Bourdieu and the thinking of Michel Foucault on the body. The analysis identifies the main characteristics of French sports historiography in terms of topics, approaches and conceptual frames, stressing some weaknesses but also some unexpected specificities.
See also Mallmann, Kommunisten, 179. 39. Sport ouvrier No Secret. Rapport concernant la délégation sportive de la FST Française venue à la Spartakiade de Moscou
  • See Dierker
  • Arbeitersport
  • Spannungsfeld
See Dierker, Arbeitersport im Spannungsfeld, 168-86. See also Mallmann, Kommunisten, 179. 39. Sport ouvrier No. 3 (10 Sep. 1923). 40. " Secret. Rapport concernant la délégation sportive de la FST Française venue à la Spartakiade de Moscou " [Secret Report on the French Delegation], in Rossiiskii tstentr, 537 II 152.
207-19; Im Zeichen der Arbeit Unsere Sporttaktik
See Bericht vom 3. Weltkongreß der Kommunistischen Jugendinternationale. Vom 4.-16 Dezember 1922 in Moskau (Berlin, 1923), 207-19; Im Zeichen der Arbeit. Resolutionen und Beschlüsse des 3. Kongresses der Kommunistischen Jugendinternationale (Berlin, 1923), 47-48; " Unsere Sporttaktik, " Jugend-Internationale 4/5: 4 (Jan. 1923).
Le sport français pendant l'entre-deux-guerres
  • Saint-Martin
Saint-Martin, Le sport français pendant l'entre-deux-guerres. Regards croisés sur les influences étrangères (Paris: L'Harmattan, 2000), 199-242.
L'Internationale rouge sportive et son rôle d'institution de propagande soviétique à Pétranger
  • André Gounot
André Gounot, "L'Internationale rouge sportive et son rôle d'institution de propagande soviétique à Pétranger," in ed. Thierry Terret and Jean-Philippe
Arbeitersport im Spannungsfeld der Zwanziger Jahre: Sportpolitik und Alltagserfahrungen auf internationaler
  • See Herbert Dierker
See Herbert Dierker, Arbeitersport im Spannungsfeld der Zwanziger Jahre: Sportpolitik und Alltagserfahrungen auf internationaler, deutscher und Berliner Ebene (Essen: Klartext, 1990), 170- 173.
Sport Ouvrier: Organe bi-mensuel de la Fédération Sportive du Travail, Section française de ;'Internationale Rouge Sportive Nos
  • L Humanité
L'Humanité (Paris), 21 Aug.-20 Sep. 1923; Sport Ouvrier: Organe bi-mensuel de la Fédération Sportive du Travail, Section française de ;'Internationale Rouge Sportive Nos. 3 (10 Sep. 1923) and 4 (20
the RSI invited its sections to organize Spartakiads as counter-events to the Olympic Games held in Los Angeles. The Labor Sports Union of America, which had affiliated with the RSI in 1927
In 1932, the RSI invited its sections to organize Spartakiads as counter-events to the Olympic Games held in Los Angeles. The Labor Sports Union of America, which had affiliated with the RSI in 1927, staged a Spartakiad in Chicago. See W.S. Baker, "Muscular Marxism and the Counter-Olympics of 1932," International Journal of the History of Sport 9: 397-410 (1992).
113, shows that of the 92,691 members of the Communist Party in 1927160 also belonged to the worker sport federation In this period the worker sport federation had around 80,000 members. On the situation in Germany, see Viola Denecke, Die Arbeitersportgemeinschaft
  • An
An overview in Kriegel, " La IIIe Internationale, " 113, shows that of the 92,691 members of the Communist Party in 1927, 16,160 also belonged to the worker sport federation. In this period the worker sport federation had around 80,000 members. On the situation in Germany, see Viola Denecke, Die Arbeitersportgemeinschaft. Eine kulturhistorische Studie über die Braunschweiger Arbeitersportbewegung in den zwanziger Jahren (Duderstadt: Mecke, 1990), 83-93, 198-207; Mallmann, Kommunisten, 166-81; Eike Stiller, Jugend im Arbeitersport: Lebenswelten im Spannungsfeld von Verbandkultur und Sozialmilieu von 1893-1933 (Münster: Lit, 1995), 68-74, 231-39, 262-72.
Intentionen, Stukturen und Funktionen
  • See Gounot
See Gounot, "Intentionen, Stukturen und Funktionen," 245-55.