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IRON CURTAIN RACE DAY

Nov. 01, 1954
Nov. 01, 1954

Table of Contents
Nov. 1, 1954

Health
  • Playground equipment with built-in disappointments is designed to help in preparing youngsters for "the struggles of maturity"

Pat On The Back
  • Herewith a salute from the editors to men and women of all ages who have fairly earned the good opinion of the world of sport, regardless of whether they have yet earned its tallest headlines

Budd Schulberg
Souped-Up
The Wonderful World Of Sport
Soundtrack
Iron Curtain Race
Cinderella Horse
Sport In Art
Nasrullah And Mr. Fitz
You Should Know
Motor Sports
Sporting Look
Tennis
Acknowledgments
Horse Racing
Fisherman's Calendar
Under 21
Bowling
Yesterday
  • Marathoners Hayes and Dorando of the 1908 Olympics turned pro, ran a series of races and started a fad

19th Hole: The Readers Take Over

IRON CURTAIN RACE DAY

East Berlin's Hoppegarten puts a big show for the satellites loses two of their best jockeys

The two young men at left broadcasting over a Voice of America hookup from West Germany were until very recently Romania's top jockeys. Aristide Cucu (left) rode more than 700 winners, most of them without enthusiasm because since the end of the war he has been waiting for a chance to rejoin his wife and child Paris, where he left them almost 15 years ago. For this very reason the Romanian authorities never let him race outside the country—until Communist leaders in East Germany announced an international meet for Russian and satellite horses at the once famous Hoppegarten track outside East Berlin That was too much for the Romanian racing commissars. They wanted to put on their best show, and Cucu, with his friend and fellow jockey Joan Pall, Romania's second best with 200 victories, were among the riders sent.

This is an article from the Nov. 1, 1954 issue Original Layout

With rare generosity, the Communists also issued Russian-type visas to a couple of Western newsmen for the big meet. SI's Dennis Fodor had to swear that he owned no property in the U.S.S.R., among other things, in order to make the trip of five miles to Hoppegarten, but, once there, he was able to watch the race freely. "I found Hoppegarten a dreary parody of its former elegance," he cabled. "On the dirty-white grandstands were large Communist propaganda signs; People's Policemen were searching for hidden bombs. The interest of German spectators was sporadic; most of the horses were unknown to them, although everyone realized that the best German blood lines were bred into them from horses looted after the war."

A Czech horse, Symbol, ran off with the big race, the "Grand Stakes of the People's Democracies and Socialist Lands." Aristide Cucu and Joan Pall took a first and third in the "Prize of Golgjewsko." Then they took a streetcar to West Berlin. Cucu and Pall had "more than enough" and are now headed for Paris—and new jobs "as far from Communism as possible."

Romania's best, Aristide Cucu (left) and Joan Pall, broadcast to their countrymen from West Germany. Both complained that racing attendance and earnings had fallen off in Romania, where the sport of kings is now the sport of commissars.

Satellite delegates, with waving banners, make ceremonious entry onto track before the race. Red Chinese are prominent in the foreground. The entire affair included much propaganda and speech making, mostly in Russian which Germans didn't understand.

Children are admitted to Hoppegarten, where they play on grass border in front of grandstand. They and strolling parents gave meet decidedly informal air.

Buns are omitted from frankfurters and bratwurst munched by spectators between races. Food was available at State-owned stands, priced slightly higher than average rationed article.

PHOTOTROPHIES AT TRACKSIDE, AMONG THEM SEVERAL PORCELAIN VASES, ARE FORLORN REMINDERS OF HOPPEGARTEN'S GREAT DAYSPHOTOPRESIDENT PIECK AT THE TRACKPHOTOIN KAISER'S DAY, HOPPEGARTEN WAS IMPECCABLY ELEGANT AND LUXURIOUSPHOTOIN NAZI DAYS, GOEBBELS (CENTER) WAS A FREQUENT VISITOR TO THE TRACKPHOTONOWADAYS, RUSSIAN SOLDIERS AND THEIR GIRLS FILL THE OFFICIAL BOXESFOUR PHOTOS

PAST GLORIES HAVE FADED

In the days of the Kaiser, Hoppegarten was the biggest and most elegant track in Germany. On its manicured track ran some of Europe's best horses; diplomats and aristocrats thronged its luxurious boxes. The Nazis kept up its tradition of top-hat and uniform display (below). All this, however, has now faded into the proletarian monotony of President Wilhelm Pieck's Communist regime: he and the Russian military are Hoppegarten's principal visitors today.