Body by Weimar: Athletes, Gender, and German Modernity

By Erik N. Jensen | Go to book overview
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1. Harry Kessler, Harry Graf Kessler Tagebücher, 1918–1937, ed. Wolfgang Pfeiffer-Belli (Frankfurt/M: Insel, 1996), 200. The issue of Berliner Illustrirte is dated August 24, but the publishers released advance copies in order to coincide with the inauguration. Our contemporary media have proven equally conscious of somatic symbolism. When the New York Post ran a cover photograph of then-president-elect Barack Obama in his swimsuit, the headline trumpeted his impressive physique as indicative of his capacity to lead. See “Fit for Office: Buff Bam is Hawaii hunk,” New York Post, Dec. 23, 2008, cover. The visible love handles of a topless French president Nicolas Sarkozy, meanwhile, prompted the magazine Paris Match in 2007 to airbrush the offending bulges away. See “Magazine retouches Sarkozy photo,” BBC News (Aug. 22, 2007),

2. For a discussion of how that magazine cover and its satirical knockoffs rippled through the political discourse of Weimar Germany, see H. M. Albrecht, Die Macht einer Verleumdungskampagne: Antidemokratische Agitationen der Presse und Justiz gegen die Weimarer Republik unter ihren ersten Reichspräsidenten Friedrich Ebert vom “Badebild” bis zum Magdeburger Prozeß (PhD diss., Universität Bremen, 2002); and Otto May, Vom Wachsen lassen zum Führen: Die Ansichtskarte als Zeuge einer versäumten Erziehung zur Demokratie in der Weimarer Republik (Hildesheim: Brücke-Verlag Kurt Schmersow, 2003). Perhaps in an effort to live down this unfortunate image, President Ebert later appeared at the 1920 dedication of the Deutsche Hochschule für Leibesübungen (German College of Physical Exercise).

3. “An unsere Leser!,” a message from the journal’s editorial staff, Illustrierter Sport 7, no. 1, Apr. 29, 1919, 2.

4. J. Trygve Has-Ellison, “A Baedecker of the European Aristocracy,” review of Aristocracy in the Modern World, by Ellis Wasson, H-Net Book Review (H-German), May 2007.

5. Modris Eksteins, Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1989), 125.

6. Kurt Doerry, “Der Sport als Zeitsymbol,” Sport im Bild 32, no. 24, Nov. 26, 1926, 1077.


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