Development of West-German Sports Medicine from 1945-1990

Entwicklung der deutschen Sportmedizin im Westen 1945 bis 1990

Germany was punished for the war and the atrocities of the Third Reich in a number of ways. From 1945 to 1990, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) excluded Germany from the world association. Germany was not allowed to participate in the 12th Olympic Games in 1948. In 1952, at the 9th Congress in Paris, the Fédération Internationale de Médecin du Sport (FIMS) once again accepted Germany, which it had excluded in 1945. In July 1947, the “Sporthochschule Köln” (since 1965 “Deutsche Sporthochschule Köln”) opened its portals as a successor to the “Deutschen Hochschule für Leibesübungen” in Berlin (which had closed in 1935). In 1949, H.W. Knipping created a temporary spiroergometric examination site (with the Medical University Hospital Cologne). In parallel, a sports-physiological laboratory was created. The generous development of the Deutsche Sporthochschule Köln continued. Cooperation with the eastern part of the country was forbidden by the occupation forces.

The Journal
The German sports medicine publication was called “Leibesübungen, Sportarzt, Erziehung” in 1950. In 1953, the title was changed to “Sportmedizin” and it became the official organ of the DSÄB. From 1959 to 1963, the journal was published under the title “Der Sportarzt”, from 1964 to 1977 as “Sportarzt und Sportmedizin” and since 1978 under the title “Deutsche Zeitschrift für Sportmedizin”. In 1977, the Association to Promote Sports Medicine was founded as a legal, independent Association for the financial support of the Journal and sports-medical activities.

Sports-Medical Qualifications
Numerous sports-medical programs for continued and advanced training offered basic sports-medical knowledge and led to the acquisition of a diploma as “Sportarzt”, issued by the German League of Sports Physicians. In 2010, the Federal Medical Council (Bundesärztekammer - BÄK) insisted that this legally-disputed diploma be abolished. In 1970, the “Zusatzbezeichnung Sportmedizin” (Additional qualification sports medicine) was created by the Deutschen Ärztetag. This was awarded by the medical Councils of the states after fulfillment of additional curricular training in theory and practice. The terms were worked out in cooperation with the DSÄB (and later the DGSP). The official curriculum for continued education was published in 2012 (BÄK with DGSP).

State Sports Physicians Leagues
Analogous to the federal structure of the Federal Republic of Germany, the first state sports-medicine leagues were formed in the “West Zone” starting in 1948 (Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein, Nordrhein and Bremen). Niedersachsen, Westfalen, Hessen, Bayern, Westberlin and Rheinland-Pfalz followed in 1950. The „Deutsche Sportärztebund” (DSÄB) was founded on 14th October 1950. For reasons of both tradition and territorial expansion, Nordrhein and Westfalen remained independent leagues in the state of Nordrhein-Westfalen. In Baden-Württemberg, there were state leagues for Baden (North and South) and Württemberg. Until 1987, 7500 physicians were members of the Deutschen Sportarztebund with its 13 State Medical Physicians Leagues in the 11 “old federal states”. The Statutes passed at the first regular Annual Meeting in Cologne in 1951 stated as an objective: The promotion of physical exercise in the service of public health. Resolutions were passed on regular performance of courses for sports physicians and seminars for winter sports.

DSÄB Congresses
Annual Congresses of the DSÄB were held every year from 1951 to 1957. The 13th Congress, held in Frankfurt/Main in 1953, was attended by a considerable number of participants from other countries and colleagues from East Germany (DDR). After 1957, Congresses were held every two years, alternating with DSÄB Symposia held by state leagues.

Sports-Medical Research and Teaching
The start of sports-medical scientific activity with the creation of further sports-scientific institutes and facilities starting in 1950 was connected with the initiatives of renowned personalities engaged in sports medicine. The sports-medical institutes in Berlin, Freiburg and Cologne were formed in this way. In 1953, Hamburg and Münster followed. In 1987, there were sports-medical institutions at 38 of 39 universities, some of which have been closed. Starting in 1955, the Board of Trustees for Sports-Medical Research in the Federal Republic of Germany gave impetus to sports-medical research. Members were high-ranking representatives of the Federal Ministries of Labor and Internal Affairs, the Permanent Conference of State Culture Ministers, the German Sports League and the DSÄB. By 1965, more than 250 scientific publications arose. Thereafter, several scientific panels were created, among them the Federal Institute of Sports Sciences (BISp) in 1970, which is part of the Federal Ministry of the Interior.

Sports-Physician Examination and Management System
Starting in 1975, sports competitive performers in Germany were divided into (performance) categories. Differentiation was made between the A-cadre (world class), B-cadre (national top athletes) and C-cadre (talented young players at international levels in the Juniors class). Later, at the state level, D-cadres were nominated, whose performance in the younger age groups led to expectations of meeting higher performance class criteria. Examination sites licensed by the DSB (later DSOB), usually sports-medical institutions at universities, took on the examination and management of the athletes. In the second half of the 1980s, Olympic support points were formed under the direction of the DSB, later DSOB, which provide medical and physiotherapeutic management and treatment to top athletes in daily training.


  1. Arndt K-H, Löllgen H, Schnell D (Hrsg.) 100 Jahre Deutsche Sportmedizin. Druckhaus Verlag, Gera, 2012.