Building a Better German
After Germany's stunning military defeat in 1918, the physical fitness of its citizens became a national priority, and no one did more to heighten the level of self‐scrutiny and to establish ideals more commensurate with the demands of the era than competitive athletes. Male and female athletes provided templates for an explicitly modern body — powerful, streamlined, and engineered for maximum performance — that many Germans believed would liberate the hitherto latent potential in men and women alike. Boxers, sprinters, and tennis players exuded a distinctively postwar spirit, untethered from prewar norms and focused on the aggressive pursuit of self‐interest. They demonstrated to their legions of fans how to negotiate the fast‐paced, restlessly experimental, performance‐oriented world of the Weimar Republic.
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