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1925 Olympics

1925: Gymnastics at the First Workers’ Olympiad

Over the years, there have been many versions of the Olympic Games. One version was the International Workers’ Olympiads, which positioned itself in opposition to the “bourgeois” Olympics.

(For a list of Olympics that happened before the 1896 Olympics in Athens, check out this post.)

As I stated in my previous post, the International Workers’ Olympiads gave Swiss women the opportunity to compete internationally at a time when the FIG didn’t allow women to compete. (At the Olympic level, women first competed in gymnastics at the 1928 Olympics.)

So, let’s take a look at what happened at the First International Workers’ Olympiads in 1925.

When and Where?

When: July 24-28, 1925

Where: Frankfurt, Germany

Who Participated in the Gymnastics Competition?

Germany: 32 Men, 30 Women
Finland: 11 Men, 0 Women
Switzerland: 8 Men, 2 Women
Austria: 3 Men, 9 Women
Czechoslovakia (Prague): 17 Men, 17 Women
Czechoslovakia (Aussig): 3 Men, 8 Women

So a total of 74 male gymnasts and 66 female gymnasts.

What did the men and women compete in?

​​The men and women had two options: The 8-event competition, which included:

  1. Compulsory Horizontal Bar
  2. Optional Horizontal Bar
  3. Compulsory Parallel Bars
  4. Optional Parallel Bars
  5. Compulsory Vault
  6. Optional Vault 1
  7. Optional Vault 2
  8. Free Exercise

Or the 12-event competition, which included:

  1. Compulsory Horizontal Bar
  2. Optional Horizontal Bar
  3. Compulsory Parallel Bars
  4. Optional Parallel Bars
  5. Compulsory Vault
  6. Optional Vault 1
  7. Optional Vault 2
  8. Free Exercise
  9. 100 m sprint
  10. Long Jump
  11. Shot put
  12. High Jump

Note: The men and women did not compete against each other, but they did compete on the same apparatus. The men’s shot put was 7 ¼ kg, while the women’s was 5 kg.

Who won?

Team competition

8-Event: Men

Germany: 1,116 Points
Finland: 986.5 Points
Switzerland: 966 Points
Czechoslovakia: 918.5 Points

12-Event: Men

Finland: 1,098.5 Points
Germany: 1084.9 Points
Czechoslovakia, Prague: 910.7 Points

8-Event: Women

Germany: 846.5 Points
Austria: 796.5 Points
Czechoslovakia, Prague: 772.5
Czechoslovakia, Aussig: 741.5

12-Event: Women

There were not enough participants to create teams.

Individual All-Around

8-Event Men – Top 8

NameCountryHigh Bar
Comp.
High Bar
Opt.
Parallel Bars
Comp.
Parallel Bars
Opt.
Vault
Comp.
Vault
Opt. 1
Vault Opt. 2Free ExerciseTotal
1. Kurt RödelGermany19.5019.5017.5019.0019.5018.5019.5016.50149.50
2. Albert RahnfeldGermany15.5020.016.0019.5018.0019.0016.5017.00141.50
3. Wilhelm BuriGermany18.5019.5017.0018.0017.5015.0018.0016.00139.50
4T. Willy ScheferSwitzerland17.0019.0016.0018.0017.0018.0018.0016.00139.00
4T. M. WenderothGermany17.0019.0015.5018.5016.5018.5016.5017.00139.00
5. Fritz JürgensGermany16.5018.5017.5017.0016.5018.5016.5017.00138.00
6. Walter SchäferGermany18.0017.0017.0017.0017.5016.0017.0017.00136.50
7T. Kurt UhlemannGermany18.0018.0015.5018.0016.5017.0017.0016.00136.00
7T. Stecher, Aug.Germany18.5019.0015.0019.0014.5016.0017.5016.50136.00
8. Germann, AntonGermany18.5018.0014.0019.0017.0017.5016.5015.00136.50
Note: By today’s numbering, Fritz Jürgens would have received 6th place. But the extant results list him as the 5th place finisher.

Albert Rahnfeld was the only gymnast to score a perfect 20 in a non-track-and-field event.

12-Event Men – Top 8

NameCountryHigh Bar
Comp.
High Bar
Opt.
Parallel Bars
Comp.
Parallel Bars
Opt.
Vault
Comp.
Vault
Opt. 1
Vault
Opt. 2
Free Exercise100mLong JumpShot PutHigh JumpTotal
1. T. SalonenFinland15.5017.5016.5018.5014.5016.0016.0016.0020.0018.2019.8020.00208.50
2. O. MäkiFinland17.0017.0017.0015.0013.5016.0013.5017.0015.0015.6017.4020.00194.00
3. K. LethinenFinland14.0019.5016.5017.5014.0016.0017.0012.5014.0016.0018.6013.20188.80
4. K. KarastiFinland18.0017.0016.0017.5013.0016.0015.0013.5010.0011.2018.4019.20184.80
5. K. KlugeGermany16.0018.5013.0015.0014.5016.0016.5016.0015.0013.2017.8013.20184.70
6. Josef GrandlGermany16.5018.0017.0016.5016.0016.0016.5014.5015.0012.0013.2011.20182.40
7. Franz DraboldGermany14.0016.0016.5016.0016.0016.5017.5016.5014.0011.4016.0011.20181.60
8. Walter RahnfeldGermany17.5017.0016.0015.5016.0018.0017.0015.0013.0010.809.6015.20180.60

8-Event Women Top 8

NameCountryHigh Bar
Comp.
High Bar
Opt.
Parallel Bars
Comp.
Parallel Bars
Opt.
Vault
Comp.
Vault
Opt. 1
Vault
Opt. 2
Free ExerciseTotal
1. Hilda NeubauerAustria18.0018.5018.5018.0019.0019.5018.0016.00145.50
2. Lisbeth BenedixGermany18.5018.0018.0017.5018.0018.5018.0018.00144.50
3. Frieda GierkeGermany19.5019.0018.5018.0017.5017.5019.5014.50144.00
4. Helene DickGermany19.0018.0017.0019.0017.0018.5016.5015.50140.50
5T. Hedwig PiecuschGermany18.0017.5017.5018.5016.5018.5016.0017.50140.00
5T. Cilli HemeterGermany19.0019.0016.5018.0017.5016.0019.0015.00140.00
6T. HoferAustria18.0018.5016.0017.5016.0019.0018.0014.50137.50
6T. Jenni SparfeldGermany17.0019.0017.0017.5016.5017.0018.0015.50137.50
7. Elli KoppischGermany17.5017.5017.0017.0016.0018.5017.5015.00136.00
8. Emma LeuschnerGermany17.0019.0016.0018.0017.0015.0019.5014.00135.50

12-Event Women Top 8

NameCountryHigh Bar
Comp.
High Bar
Opt.
Parallel Bars
Comp.
Parallel Bars
Opt.
Vault
Comp.
Vault
Opt. 1
Vault
Opt. 2
Free Exercise100mLong JumpShot PutHigh JumpTotal
1. Helene DickGermany19.0018.0017.0019.0017.0018.5016.5015.5017.0013.8020.0018.80210.10
2. Hela PeštováCzechoslovakia18.5017.5016.5015.0017.0015.5017.0012.5018.0010.0020.0015.20192.70
3. Dora RehbachGermany18.0017.0016.5017.0016.0017.0018.0012.0016.0012.0016.4015.20191.10
4. Irma PradeCzechoslovakia18.0019.0016.5016.5017.5017.5017.5014.0015.0010.2013.6014.80190.10
5. H. WerthnerGermany18.5018.5015.5017.5018.0017.0018.0012.0017.0011.2013.8012.80189.80
6. Gertrud MannebachGermany17.5017.0015.0017.0015.5016.5017.0014.0018.0011.8015.4014.80189.50
7. Lisi NejetloCzechoslovakia15.0017.5016.5016.0016.0017.5019.0011.5015.0011.2016.6017.20189.00
8T. Hildegard FeneisGermany16.5017.0016.5016.5014.5917.5017.0015.0014.008.8017.0015.20185.50
8T. Steffi PowolnyAustria17.5018.5014.5016.0015.5017.5016.5013.5013.0011.2011.8020185.50

Note: As you can tell, Germans largely won this competition. The 1926 Jahrbuch der Turnkunst (Yearbook of Gymnastics) noted:

A large number of foreigners who had initially agreed to participate canceled at the last minute. In the end, Frankfurt was a German workers’ gymnastics and sports festival with the participation of foreigners. This statement is not intended to diminish the importance of the Olympics, but only to put it in the right light.

1926 Jahrbuch der Turnkunst

Eine große Reihe von Ausländern, die zunächst Teilnahme zugesagt hatten, hat in letzter Minute abgesagt. So war letzten Endes Frankfurt ein deutsches Arbeiter-Turn- und Sportfest unter Beteiligung von Ausländern. Diese Feststellung soll die Bedeutung der Olympiade nicht herabsetzen, sondern nur ins rechte Licht rücken.

Side note: Here are a few images of women doing high bar in German. (The images aren’t from the 1925 Workers’ Olympiad.)

Marthel Wust in 1926 Jahrbuch der Turnkunst
Helene Scherer in 1926 Jahrbuch der Turnkunst

Were there complaints about judging?

Of course. This is gymnastics. The Swiss men particularly had a problem with the judging.

In the Swiss gymnastics newspaper we read: “The Swiss representatives were very confused by the different evaluation of the German referees, which is proven by incomprehensible point differences. Nevertheless Schefer, Rorschach, could see fourth place. Anyone who has seen the splendid achievements of most of our competitors has to admit that if we had a uniform rating, our people would have done even better, probably even would have taken first place. They have a big lead over the other countries. The Germans were given disproportionately strong preference due to the type of valuation used. “

There is no justification for this criticism. We do not understand to what extent the Germans should be preferred when the referees are consistently the same. That would have to be proven and should have dealt with the arbitral tribunal on the spot. The German referees have already vowed to evaluate the Olympics very objectively. We would have punished any offense against it ruthlessly. In any case, the referees and the competition management would not have tolerated any discrimination against foreign competitors.

Die Wettkampf-Resultate, Internationale Arbeiter-Olympiade, Frankfurt am Main 1925

In der Schweizer Turnzeitung lesen wir: “Die Schweizer Vertreter waren durch die andersgestaltete Wertung der deutschen Kampfrichter stark benachteiligt, was durch unverständliche Punktdifferenzen bewiesen wird. Trotzdem konnte sich Schefer, Rorschach, den vierten Rang sichern. Wer die prachtvollen Leistungen unserer meisten Kämpfer gesehen hat, muß zugeben, daß bei einheitlicher Wertung unsere Leute noch besser abgeschnitten, wahrscheinlich sogar die ersten Plätze belegt hätten. Gegenüber den anderen Ländern haben sie einen grossen Vorsprung. Die Deutschen wurden durch die angewandte Bewertungsart ganz unverhältnismäßig stark bevorzugt.”

Diese Kritik entbehrt der Begründung. Wir verstehen nicht, inwiefern bei durchgängig gleichen Kampfrichtern die Deutschen bevorzugt sein sollen. Das müsste bewiesen werden und hätte das Schiedsgericht an Ort und Stelle beschäftigen müssen. Die deutschen Kampfrichter haben schon ver der Olympiade gelobt, ganz objektiv zu werten. Wir hätten jeden Verstoß dagegen unnachsichtig geahndet. Jedenfalls hätten Kampfrichter und Wettkampfleitung in keinem Falle eine Benachteiligung der Auslandwettkämpfer geduldet.

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