"Nicht mehr die herrlichste Nebensache der Welt": Sport, West Berlin and the Four Powers Agreement 1971

in German Politics and Society
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1972 saw the coming to fruition of two events of major importance to the Federal Republic of Germany under Willy Brandt's leadership: the normalization of relations with the Soviet Union and its satellites through the process of Ostpolitik, and the Munich Olympic Games, which were designed to present a new Germany on the world stage. Although recent scholarship has highlighted the intricacies of East-West diplomacy and the political machinations of Cold-War sports relations, there have been few attempts to investigate the latter's role in the former. This essay seeks to investigate sport in the context of politics, and more vitally vice versa. Focusing on events in the immediate run-up to the Four Powers Treaty on West Berlin in 1971, it shows how sport's appeal to broad sectors of public opinion in Eastern and Western Europe made it a prime candidate for the cultural warfare that accompanied political negotiations.