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Had Täve Schur not existed, the GDR would have had to have invented him. In fact, one might argue that it did.

Gustav-Adolf Schur, or Täve as he is known to all East Germans of a certain age, was a road racing cyclist whose fame grew throughout the course of the 1950s as he moved from one sporting success to the next.

Täve Schur celebrates winning the Karl-Marx-Stadt to Leipzig leg of the 1955 Peace Race
(photo: Bundesarchiv Bild 183-30443-0001)

His evolution into becoming an East German sporting icon was not, however, simply the result of his remarkable career, but also a reflection of his having been embraced by the nascent Workers and Peasants’ State. Indeed, Schur emerged onto the scene at a time when the GDR leadership was searching for ways to raise the country reputation both at home and abroad. In Schur, the regime found a homegrown hero who was demonstrating to the world – and his fellow East Germans – the heights which they – and, implicitly, their political / social system – could reach.

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