GESELLSCHAFT FUR SPORT UND TECHNIK
THE SOCIETY FOR SPORT AND TECHNOLOGY
PREMILITARY TRAINING IN THE DDR
The East German government stressed preparation for military service in the school system and military instruction for 9th, 10th, and 11th year students was made compulsory in 1978-1981 The primary vehicle for conducting this training was the “Gesellschaft fur Sport und Technik” (GST) or Society for Sport and Technology
The GST was founded in 1952 in imitation of the Soviet DOSAAF to encourage the premilitary training of youth between the ages of 14 and 25. Placed under the control of the Ministry of Defense in 1956 and tasked to prepare young men for service in the NVA, the GST offered exciting things to do such as parachuting, shooting, flying, motorcycling, radio, model building, etc. The GST concen¬trated on teaching military and military-related skills and know¬ledge. In addition to basic training, the premilitary training included specialized training for specific NVA career fields which was voluntary except for men between 16 and 19 who intended to be career soldiers. Successful completion of requirements earned a badge which could be worn on the NVA uniform and many young men qualified for drivers and pilots licenses through the GST. The GST assisted the NVA by providing men who had already learned basic military skills and, in many cases, men who had a specialty skill. The GST also pursued its indoctrination goals through classes on socialism and the aims of the Socialist Unity Party of the DDR.
The GST also sponsored military sports games, the “Wehrspartikade”. In the 1985 games, over 8000 contestants participated in 280 “premilitary” and “military sporting” events, which included stripping machineguns, hand grenade target practice, and sharp-shooting. The GST achieved top standards in marksmanship, parachuting, orienteering, diving and other sports. East Germany best GST sportsmen represented their country in Olympic Games, World and European championships and other leading sporting events.
As a paramilitary organization, the GST had a hierarchical structure based in the 15 districts (Bezirke) of the DDR. Within each district it had groups in universities and vocational schools, factories and other businesses and in the public schools. The GST chairman was a senior NVA officer, at the end Lt Gen Gunter Teller, and below him were thousands of reserve officers and NCOs of the NVA and police who worked as instructors in the GST.
The GST had its own distinctive uniform and badges of appointment (Dienststellungskennzeichen), (See Youth photo file section). Youth wore gray shoulder straps with red markings. Adult leaders and instructors wore blue shoulder straps with silver (branch and district-level) or gold (central headquarters-level) markings.
The GST also had its own system of awards. The Ernst Schneller medal and prize were authorized for wear on the NVA uniform. Qualification badges were also awarded.