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Youth Sports and War in the USSR (1941–1945)

Student: Ivan Chekhov

Supervisor: Martin Beisswenger

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities

Educational Programme: History (Bachelor)

Final Grade: 7

Year of Graduation: 2016

This thesis examines the physical education policy designed for young people in the USSR, which played an important role in the training of Red Army reserves. It studies the range of measures taken by the government and determines the extent to which this policy not only supported the needs of the military but also contributed to the achievements of the Soviet competitive sport system. A detailed examination of the problem shows that the changes in youth policy had ambiguous results and reveals that the educational process was impeded by a number of contradictions between the leaders of various youth organizations and local obstacles. This study is based on official government records (archival materials from RGASPI), the periodical press (in particular the newspaper ”Red Sports“) and guidebooks dedicated to the adaption of sport for military needs. The source analysis shows that youth sports during the Great Patriotic War developed in military and non-military directions. The first line strove to foster military skills and evolved in the early phases of the war until 1943, when the Red Army was in great need of additional reserves. This policy required the modernization of the previous system of military sports. The necessary changes, however, were only slowly put into practice, and a number of issues remained unresolved for a long time. In contrast, the non-military direction was slowed down in the early years of the war, but came to the fore in 1944-1945. Soviet sport championships were renewed and serveral national records were broken. These successes then allowed Soviet athletes to accept invitations from abroad and participate in international competitions.

Full text (added May 17, 2016)

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