The line at Checkpoint Charlie was moving at a snail's pace, the chief culprit being an ashen-faced East German border guard inspecting passports in what seemed like slow motion. The guard, stationed at the very end of the bureaucratic gantlet that must be run before entering East Berlin, was unsmiling and, it appeared, utterly uninterested.
The line edged forward until the guard had before him two Americans. He began thumbing through their papers with his usual languor until one sheet caught his eye. It was a letter from Panorama DDR, the East German foreign press agency, and it stated the mission of the two Americans.
"Sport?" the guard asked.
The Americans nodded.
July 11, 1976
Regarding them with a sly expression, the guard launched into a curious litany. "Roland Matthes, Kornelia Ender, Ruth Fuchs...." All were names of athletes expected to lead East Germany to a smashing showing at the Montreal Olympics. The guard went through a couple of more names before concluding, "Gut, ja?"
"Gut," agreed the Americans.
The guard, beaming now, waved the Americans through.
The German Democratic Republic is a country flexing its muscles in many ways. Behind its sealed-off borders, the Ohio-sized land of 17 million has overcome a continuing labor shortage to become the richest of Eastern Europe's socialist bloc countries. East Germany's prosperity is evident in the vast new apartment buildings with bathroom-tile exteriors that have gone up in its major cities and in the fashionably dressed citizens who crowd its public squares to eat ice cream and sip Pilsner from limp paper cups. It is evident, too, in the little G.D.R.-made Trabants and Soviet Ladas that zip along its avenues, menacing pedestrians just as effectively as the brawnier Mercedes across the border in West Germany.
The G.D.R. is also doing itself proud in sport, having long since overtaken Hungary, Australia, even California as a major athletic power. Until recently, however, the East Germans preferred to keep their well-oiled sports machine under wraps, rejecting most requests for visits by Western sportswriters. Thus it was a welcome development when the G.D.R. authorities, suddenly reversing themselves, invited a dozen journalists from Western Europe, Canada and the U.S. for a pre-Olympic sporting safari through the playing fields and field houses of their country.
To join this tour Photographer Walter Iooss Jr. and I set out, after clearing Checkpoint Charlie, for the Hotel Berolina, a large, modestly appointed building overlooking Berlin's broad and bustling Karl-Marx-Allee. There, tour members were greeted by Panorama DDR officials who outlined a six-day itinerary that included not only Berlin but also the cities of Leipzig and Karl-Marx-Stadt as well as smaller towns along the way. It seemed like a lot of ground to cover in the allotted time, to which objection Peter Herrmann, Panorama's sports editor, rejoined, "Don't worry, we're a small country." That was easy to believe; at the time there were 17 of us, including officials and interpreters, jammed into a second-floor room designed, at most, for one guest.
The foreign journalists were kept busy enough, traveling in a red-and-white bus and interviewing dozens of sports officials, inspecting countless facilities and attending sports events big and little. But there was also time to unwind in smoky Ratskeller and night spots like the Moscow, a rather sedate Berlin discotheque where young people danced cheek to cheek and gulped down French Cognac—some of them anyway—at $3 a pop. Often as not, Herrmann was along on these social outings, a bright wavy-haired fellow who mixed plaids and checks with dazzling effect and spoke serviceable English. Herrmann is a Marxist ideologue, but his only lapses into Big Brotherism were to repeatedly advise those tour members guilty of the sin, "You smoke too much—it is not good."
The Americans and Canadians among us (others on the tour were from France, Italy, Finland and The Netherlands) also enjoyed the attentions of an official translator named Max Drescher, a courtly old gent whose unfamiliarity with Western-style journalism often led him to interrupt even the most innocuous inquiries by murmuring, in genuine puzzlement, "Hmmmm, funny question." Max also had the habit of proposing toasts with "cheerio" instead of "cheers" and tended to confuse words like "beverage" and "vegetable," raising the ever-present possibility that he might wind up saying "cheerio" over the carrots and peas.
But Max was eager to be of service, as he demonstrated one hectic day in Leipzig during which we rushed around to various local elimination events in the Spartakiad, a kind of national junior Olympics. First we attended a competition in swimming, then a gymnastics meet, and finally a track meet where the shouts of kids mingled with the smell of sizzling Bockwurst. Watching the meet, I decided to talk to a "typical" young athlete, prompting Max to exult, "Oh marvelous, an interview!"
A few moments later I returned with a slightly bewildered teen-ager named Rolf-Peter M√ºller, a volleyball player for Goethe secondary school, which had lost to secondary school No. 7 in the Spartakiad finals earlier that day.
"What was your reaction to the loss?" I began, probingly.
"Hmmm, funny question," said Max. And come to think of it, it was a funny question.
Besides the Spartakiad, there were visits to major tune-ups for Montreal. One day the red-and-white bus stopped at an "Olympic qualification" track meet in Karl-Marx-Stadt where shotputter Marianne Adam beat Ilona Schoknecht, getting off a heave of 71'1¼", to break her own world record by nearly three inches. It was the fifth world record for East German women in track and field in barely two weeks, and no sooner did the shot thud to the ground than a torrential rain followed, forcing a happily sobbing Adam to run ingloriously for cover. There was also a visit to the G.D.R. swimming championships in Berlin, a five-day affair that would end up producing, awesomely, 14 world records. On this particular day three world records were set, including a 1:11.93 clocking in the 100-meter breaststroke by Carola Nitschke, a hitherto unknown Berliner just two months past her 14th birthday.
The record-breaking spree left no doubt about the G.D.R.'s readiness for the 1976 Games. The East Germans were runners-up to the Russians in the last two Winter Olympics, and their 20 golds at the 1972 Summer Games ranked behind only the Soviet Union's 50 and the U.S.'s 33. Less than a year after Munich, the G.D.R. women swimmers rudely brushed aside the long-dominant Americans to become the world's best. Last year East German athletes won world championships in women's swimming, rowing, canoeing, and team handball and the Europa Cup in men's and women's track and field.
Now they seem poised for even greater triumphs. They go to Montreal with world records in seven of the 15 Olympic events in women's track and 12 of 13 in women's swimming. In sprinter Renate Stecher and freestyler-butterflyer Kornelia Ender, they have candidates for the fastest women on land and in the water. The G.D.R. superheavyweight Gerd Bonk expects to challenge Russia's Vasily Alexeyev and Bulgaria's Khristo Plachkov in weight lifting, while backstroker Roland Matthes (newly engaged to Ender) will be seeking gold medals at his third straight Olympics. With hopes also high in soccer, cycling and canoeing, the G.D.R. could win 30 to 35 gold medals, conceivably enough to pass the U.S., if not the Soviet Union.
"We are a small country," Peter Herrmann repeated at another point during the tour. Then he added, "But we are not so small in sport, eh?"
Our biggest chunk of time—nearly three days—was spent in Leipzig, an ancient trading city of 580,000 inhabitants, whose creaky old chestnut trees and sooty buildings seemed to be holding one another up. One rainy afternoon, Herrmann, Iooss and I took a dip at a people's swimming center in a leafy neighborhood northeast of downtown. It was a 25-meter indoor pool that, as is customary in Europe, required bathing caps on men as well as women. We had to borrow caps from two plump women attendants who, also in the European manner, sat in a check room commanding a fine view of the men's dressing room. After our swim we tipped the women, and one of them, apparently to show her gratitude, playfully brushed aside a curtain for our benefit. Behind the curtain was the women's dressing room.
It was only one of many acts of kindness encountered in the G.D.R. When we left the pool it was still raining, but a group of girls, aged 10 or 11, showed us the way to the nearest tram, a walk of several blocks. The tram took off and the girls ran alongside, waving and smiling at us until they were too out of breath to go any farther. The tram dropped us downtown where, taking refuge from the rain at a circular bar in a new high-rise, Iooss confided to one of the locals that he was from New York. A hush fell over the bar and every face turned in his direction.
"New York," said a young woman, eyes shining. "New York, New York, New York...." She repeated the seemingly magical words over and over.
Some of the cordiality had to do with our being American, and some of it was just, well, cordiality. Also in Leipzig, Iooss and I picked up a couple of handsome posters of Bach, who is buried in the city's 15th-century Gothic Thomas Church. Later, in a bookstore, we asked a salesgirl for something to use for wrapping the posters. She disappeared, soon returning with an armful of cardboard.
To our disappointment, she did not say, "Anything for Americans." What she said was, "Anything for Bach."
The tour featured a seemingly endless succession of gold-toothed apparatchiks in polyester jackets who showed off freshly waxed gyms, gleaming swimming pools and well-tended playing fields, afterward vowing over mineral water and little finger cakes to create more gyms, more swimming pools, more playing fields. And some official or other could usually be counted on to say, "Sport in the G.D.R. is the people's right. It is not a privilege or business as it is in capitalist countries."
Evidence of a government-promoted sports boom was, in fact, everywhere. Physical education at G.D.R. schools is compulsory. So is swimming, the result being that virtually every child is proficient in at least two strokes by the second grade. More than 300,000 East Germans, or nearly 5% of the labor force, work at least part time as coaches or sports officials. Yet the country's sports bosses have all they can do to keep up with the demand. Despite a rapid increase in facilities in recent years, long lines are common at swimming pools—the one we visited in Leipzig had a one-hour time limit—and young boys could be seen everywhere, soccer balls under their arms, waiting forlornly for fields to become free.
Typical was the group of boys standing around one day watching two teams of older men huffing and puffing on the soccer field outside Berlin's secondary school No. 19, a four-story building festooned with large block letters reading OUR STRENGTH FOR PEACE AND PROGRESS. The boys hoped to use the field when the men were finished. I asked one of them, a sandy-haired youngster of 13, whether it was possible to grow up in the G.D.R. without caring for sports.
"Oh, there are kids who don't like sports," he answered.
Did he know any personally from his class or neighborhood? The boy reflected a moment, then replied, "No, not personally."
The emphasis is plainly on those sports with Olympic standing. In Berlin's Friedrichshain Park, a large wooded sanctuary not far from the Hotel Berolina, mothers push baby carriages, and old men in dark clothes sit, hands on knees, kibitzing as players push waist-high chess pieces on a board painted on the pavement. The park also has three clay tennis courts. One of them was occupied late on a pleasant weekday afternoon by two teen-agers wearing soccer gear and playing with more enthusiasm than talent. The other two courts were empty. It is a good bet that if tennis were an Olympic sport, those courts would be as much in demand as soccer fields and swimming pools.
In the East German scheme of things, short shrift is also given to spectators. Kids at the track meet in Karl-Marx-Stadt mobbed Renate Stecher for autographs so insistently that the sprinter was forced to scold a couple of them for rudeness. But then, those youngsters may not get too many chances to attend sports events, much less collect autographs. Few of the G.D.R.'s new facilities contain seats, let alone exploding scoreboards. The idea seems to be to let the cameras handle it. East German TV devotes 20% of its programming to sport, often replaying important events in the morning for the benefit of night-shift workers.
Watching sports in person can be an oddly dispiriting experience, even at a major attraction like the national swimming championships in Berlin. The 1,000 fans who filled the steeply banked Sport-forum greeted introductions of each competitor by shouting in unison the single word: Ja! World records were celebrated by little more than polite applause, the only genuine display of emotion coming when Matthes tenderly kissed the 17-year-old Ender on the cheek before the 200-meter freestyle, one of five events in which the statuesque Ender broke world records during the week. It turned out that the "fans" were mostly coaches and trainers, making the G.D.R. swimming championships seem more like a clinic than a true sports event.
Games in the G.D.R. can also be scheduled at odd hours, as when the East German national team played Rumania in a "friendship" volleyball tournament that also included teams from Russia, Cuba, Czechoslovakia and Hungary. The G.D.R.-Rumania contest, held in Berlin's 6,000-seat Werner Seelenbinder Hall, began at five o'clock on a Friday afternoon before no more than 150 witnesses. The home team proceeded to win three games to one, but there was only scattered applause, none whatever from a subdued group of teen-agers high in the bright red seats. "We are junior players," one of them whispered in the sepulchral silence. "We are here to learn."
An equally odd spectacle was meanwhile unfolding on the driveway encircling Werner Seelenbinder Hall. There was speed skater Klaus Wunderlich, the fifth-place finisher in the 5,000 meters at the Innsbruck Olympics, wearing roller skates and breezing around the building, over and over again. His coach, sitting on a garbage receptacle, looked up from his stopwatch to explain in halting English that the driveway measured roughly 400 meters and that the skater would go around 100 times, a workout requiring two hours. "Klaus has many power," the coach declared.
As he circumnavigated the building, blond hair flapping, Klaus Wunderlich could not have hoped for better training conditions. There were few spectators either entering or leaving the volleyball area to disturb his workout.
Everywhere you look in East Germany you see them: tautly muscled young people clad in sweat suits and snazzy Ger-mania footwear, the local equivalent of Adidas or Converse. But you can also behold plenty of double-chinned Hausfrauen and their paunchy husbands wolfing down traditional German fare of black bread, potatoes and cream cakes.
The fact is that corpulence is a serious national health problem in the G.D.R. and the incidence of circulatory ailments is abnormally high. A worried government has introduced a large selection of low-calorie diet foods, and it is in much the same spirit that the menu in the dining room of the Stadt Leipzig, one of that city's leading hotels, lists ("for your personal well-being") the approximate caloric content of all dishes. Unfortunately, the menu runs toward selections like cutlet Hanoi-style, ice coupe Havana and flambéed pancakes, few of which have less than 600 calories.
Another cause for alarm is the fact that 50% of G.D.R. 18-year-olds smoke at least occasionally. Sharing Peter Herrmann's concern over this problem, a growing number of restaurants have prohibited smoking, including one along the Berlin-Leipzig Autobahn where the red-and-white bus stopped one morning. Inside, Canadian TV Newsman Joe Schlesinger, one of the tour members, failed to notice the NO SMOKING sign and lit up a cigarillo, whereupon the waiter testily refused to serve the Panorama party. Schlesinger promptly extinguished the offending tobacco, but the fellow still refused service, now complaining that there was one person too many at the table.
Health is among the avowed objectives of East Germany's broad-based sports movement, but it is scarcely the only one. Another is mentioned in the East German Constitution, which specifically invokes sport as essential to "development of a socialist personality," thus inextricably tying up athletics with lofty notions of duty and discipline. To symbolize the liberation of sport from the Nazis, gym classes open and close with the instructor calling "Sport!" and his charges snapping back "Free!" (at major events the exchange takes place between the P.A. announcer and the crowd), and it is those athletes belonging to the ruling Socialist Unity Party who are most often held up as clean-living models for young people.
A related purpose is to go on supplying world-beaters who will perform "for the glory of our socialist homeland," as called for by Party Boss Erich Honecker in a recent speech routinely extolling sport. Toward this end, talent scouts comb schools and factories and keep an eye on Spartakiad results, tapping the best young athletes for the big-city sports clubs, where they will be honed, it is hoped, into world-class performers.
One of those doing her small part in all this is Helga Stelzig, the red-haired headmistress at Berlin's Lenin secondary school, who greeted the Panorama delegation in a conference room containing, by Iooss' painstaking count, 50 pins, 43 stamps, 37 paintings and six statues bearing the likeness of Lenin. Then the group watched 60 red-uniformed boys and girls, members of a ninth-grade phys ed class, marching briskly off to calisthenics in the school playground, all but clicking their heels at the instructor's command. "This has nothing to do with military—it's only for discipline," one East German official explained somewhat nervously.
While the drills went on, Headmistress Stelzig spoke of one of her eighth-graders, a tall, gifted long jumper who left not long ago to join Berlin's big Dynamo sports club, and to enroll in a different, secondary school. "It is an extremely great honor to have somebody accepted by one of the sports clubs," she said gravely. "We are very proud of that boy, very proud indeed."
Others look upon the sports clubs less reverently. These include some of the good people of Dobersch√ºtz, a settlement of small houses and picket fences in the fiat farmland northeast of Leipzig whose 1,200 inhabitants are outnumbered by pigs, pungently enough, 3 to 1. The village boasts a fine new gym, but the local sports functionary, a boyish-looking fellow named Gerd Wutting, has a gripe. "We've had several youngsters good enough to go away to big sports clubs in Leipzig but their parents wouldn't allow it," he complains. "They were afraid there was too much emphasis on sport and not enough on studies. I tried to change their minds but...." Wutting shrugs helplessly.
The clubs that evoke such conflicting feelings bear names like Chemie Halle, Einheit Dresden and Motor Jena. There are some 20 major clubs in all, and they have perhaps 12,000 athletes, the pool from which the G.D.R. selects its Olympians. Club members range in age from five or six in the case of figure skaters, swimmers and gymnasts, up to the late 30s. Most live in dormitories on the club grounds, in an atmosphere of total sports immersion. Younger athletes usually attend special schools located on the premises, with classes arranged around their training schedules; older ones work at nearby jobs, receiving whatever time off they need—at full pay—for practice and competition. Food is plentiful and sports doctors and coaches hover about.
The perks of being a state-supported athlete improve with performance, and G.D.R. officials speak of some of them with surprising candor. For example, the government demonstrated its pleasure with the country's showing at Munich by sending gold medalists and other leading athletes on a three-month, all-expenses-paid cruise to Cuba aboard the V√∂lkerfreundschaft, the G.D.R.'s only luxury liner. And Olympic champions and world-record breakers are routinely awarded the Distinguished Service to the Fatherland medal, entitling recipients to generous extra pensions when they reach retirement age.
But sport at this level also has its burdens, and officials are less open about these. Some defectors to the West have complained about grueling, even unsafe, training regimens, a lament underscored by reports trickling out of East Germany that five or more crack younger rowers, members of a sports club in Leipzig, drowned this past spring when their shell capsized on the frigid, windblown waters of M√ºggel Lake near Berlin. East German officials dismiss that as a fabrication by the West German press, but rumors of such an accident persist within the G.D.R. itself.
The only time the Panorama group faced any restrictions was during a visit to Berlin Dynamo, the country's biggest sports club. Dynamo is a resort-like spread, with eight soccer fields, a speed-skating rink, great, arching training halls and its own well-scrubbed little hotel. Leading a tour of the place, a burly Dynamo official suddenly announced that "visitors from non-Socialist countries" were not allowed to take photographs. When we stopped at one of Dynamo's two hockey rinks, the players who had been on the ice abruptly skated to the bench. When we left, the click of wood against puck was heard, signaling that practice had resumed. The reason for the secrecy was anybody's guess; we saw nobody at Dynamo being flogged and smiles on the faces of a couple of athletes were duly noted.
Two dissimilar views of the high-powered sports clubs—and G.D.R. sport generally—were provided in Karl-Marx-Stadt, scene of the pre-Olympic track meet. Located in the foothills of the Erzgebirge range, Karl-Marx-Stadt, known in other times as Chemnitz, is a gray, industrial city whose pride and joy is the new Hotel Kongress, a futuristic 28-story building with attractive furnishings, small but comfortable guest rooms and a penthouse nightclub. The hotel also overlooks the city's latter-day landmark, a 23-foot-high bronze bust of a scowling Marx, at the base of which party faithful lay wreaths and children play tag.
In a private dining room at the Kongress one evening, Panorama trotted out javelin thrower Ruth Fuchs, the world-record holder, who at Montreal will be aiming for her second straight gold medal. The 29-year-old Fuchs teaches medical technicians at a vocational school in Jena and is studying on the side to become a sports teacher. She is blonde and big-boned and has no complaints about life as a favored member of Motor Jena Sport Club.
"In the G.D.R. the state takes care of its sportsmen," Fuchs said forcefully. "I receive the best possible coaching from trainers who are my friends. Each day I receive a free massage. If I'm injured, the doctor bills are paid. I can take as long as I wish to finish my studies. I receive 5,000 calories a day, a tremendous amount I could not afford myself. Because of the medal I was awarded, I will be expensive to the state when I am an old lady." She was smiling radiantly now. "But if you think that I am paid 1,000 marks or so every time I set a world record, you are wrong. What is better, making money or having the honor of your whole country?"
The other view was provided by chance when Iooss and I went for lunch at a crowded restaurant practically in the shadow of the Kongress and were seated at a table with other diners. One of them was a slender woman in her early 20s who, it developed, spoke perfect English and whose ex-boyfriend was one of East Germany's leading athletes until his recent retirement. "At his sports club he had to be in bed at 10 o'clock, as if he were a child," she freely told us. "If we wanted to be alone together, it had to be in the morning. When he was left off the team for Munich, he went on vacation to the Baltic and refused to watch the Olympics on TV. You see, sports here is very important. There is great prestige in it. And, of course, the top athletes receive money and free cars."
She lowered her voice and went on, "In fact, sport is too important here. There is a very popular expression in the G.D.R. that sums it up: Sport ist Mord—sport is murder."
Among other things whispered about East German athletes is that they are beefed up, especially the women, by anabolic steroids. This was a matter that the touring journalists were poised to bring up at, in particular, the German College of Physical Culture in Leipzig, a 25-year-old institution whose brooding buildings and poplar-lined playing fields stretch along the banks of the Weisse Elster River. Boasting a student body of 1,200, its own sport club and a 75,000-volume sports library, the college is the center of the G.D.R.'s sports research and turns out the country's top coaches and athletic administrators.
The Leipzig institution has also educated the G.D.R.'s 300 sports doctors in its own renowned medical school. The medical faculty is headed by Dr. Kurt Tittel, an imperial figure in a white frock coat who told his visitors, "In former times sports medicine was more a hobby than a profession, but today sports medicine takes its rightful place alongside the other specialties." As for steroids, Tittel did not tattle. He rushed off without entertaining questions, leaving such matters for school administrators to handle.
"We have never experimented with steroids," Edgar Weidner, the college's assistant rector soon was saying. "They are not healthy for athletes...."
"If you haven't experimented, how do you know they're unhealthy?"
Weidner smiled and said, "I read it in an English weight-lifting paper."
"Hmmm, funny question," said Max.
The suspicions about steroids have been fueled by the fact that East Germany's women athletes have generally fared better than its men. The G.D.R. answers, plausibly enough, that there is simply more room for improvement in women's sport. "Our advantage over capitalist countries is that we regard women as equal and train them just as hard as men," Rudolf Schramme, the national swim coach, told the Panorama group. But Schramme also allowed that G.D.R. coaches rely heavily on sports doctors; although he did not spell out the nature of this assistance, the G.D.R. is known to do far more monitoring of oxygen consumption, metabolism and other bodily functions of athletes than is the practice in the West.
The East Germans have, in fact, been innovative generally. The G.D.R. has no mountain higher than 4,000 feet, but its now successful ski-jumping program received a boost in the early '50s when a coach discovered that a certain plastic material, when sprayed with water, would assume the properties of slick snow. The then emergent G.D.R. women swimmers shocked the world in 1972 with their membrane-thin "skin suits." At Innsbruck this year, the G.D.R. won big with a new luge that involved steering with the legs instead of the hands, and it also introduced a sleek new bobsled.
Clever, these East Germans. During a Spartakiad swim meet in Leipzig, a husky balding coach named Horst Lange mysteriously led me off to a locker room adjacent to the pool area. There he opened a locker and removed—no, not steroids—but a wooden cutout puppet of a swimmer, hinged at all the joints. "It's my own design," he said with unconcealed pride. "I use it to show children flaws in their technique."
The six-day sporting safari yielded many impressions, some of them conflicting. The status of women in G.D.R. sport—and in East German society generally—is undoubtedly favorable, yet any suggestion that male chauvinism has been forever eliminated was splendidly dispelled by Gerhard Hesse, the mayor of Skeuditz, a factory town of 16,000 on the outskirts of Leipzig. Passing a pinup of a nude woman in a locker room of the local Schwimmhalle, the B√ºrgermeister said with a leering wink, "She is not from here—she is much too good for our town." As for the elimination of sexual roles, there was the case of the Spartakiad gymnastics meet in a musty old schoolhouse in Leipzig that featured 60 beribboned, pig-tailed girls and exactly six boys. "Boys only want to play soccer," grieved the sweat-suited meet director. "What can we do?"
On the bus one day I asked Peter Herrmann about the Sport ist Mord expression. Immediately, he replied, "Oh, you're thinking of Akkord ist Mord, an expression from capitalist days. Akkord means..." He riffled through a pocket English-German dictionary. "...ah yes, it means 'piecework.' Piecework is murder." Herrmann was pensive a moment, before adding softly, "Sport ist Mord? I've never heard anybody say this before."
One bright afternoon in Berlin I went for a walk with an English-speaking West German of my acquaintance who had come over to the G.D.R. capital for the day. On a street corner we asked directions of a wiry little man who, realizing I was an American, extended his hand and exclaimed, "How do you do, Coney Island?"
It turned out to be the only English the man knew. More soberly, he motioned in the direction of the Wall and said in German, "Soon you will be going back to the other world, where I cannot go. I wish I could come along." Nobody could think of anything more to say. The man stuck out his hand and said in parting, "How do you do, Coney Island?"
The trip to the other world was, once again, through Checkpoint Charlie. The ashen-faced guard was nowhere to be seen, which seemed a pity. The G.D.R. swimming championships were continuing, and in a preliminary heat earlier that day, blond, hawk-nosed Roger Pyttel had broken Mark Spitz' world record in the 200-meter butterfly, a record he would further lower in the evening finals to 1.59.63. The guard had neglected to include the 19-year-old Pyttel in his breathless list of names, and one could imagine him now making amends by saying, "Roger Pyttel, gut, ja?"
It would have been necessary to agree with him once more.