Gymnastics

A gymnastic display
DIJ Tokyo Shelf Mark H57-06:a gymnastic display

In the first edition of the newspaper there is an account of a wrestling competition1, but there is no further mention of wrestling until 1919. In the newspaper of the 18th of November 1917 it is reported that a planned military gymnastics competition (involving, amongst other things the throwing of hand grenades) had been cancelled2. As part of their celebration of the Kaiser’s Birthday in January 1918, the naval gunners only performed a few limited gymnastic exercises3. On the 5th of May 1918, Clemens Felchnerowski, who was an enthusiastic gymnast, published an article calling for more activity in gymnastics and athletics4. He blamed the lack of involvement on the preference for sporting activities.

Eventually, on the 26th of May, the Bando Camp Gymnastics Club was established5, and in the Camp Chatter for that month it was stated that “gymnastics are in full bloom”, while intellectual activities were “becoming increasingly sluggish”.6 On the 1st of June, on the same day as the performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, a gymnastics display was given to fifty Japanese teachers7.

The German gymnastics movement was founded by Friedrich Ludwig Jahn at the time of the Napoleonic wars. The lively illustrated account of the Club’s Jahn celebrations on the 11th of August conveys the enthusiasm of the gymnasts8, and Camp Chatter in the same edition also talks enthusiastically about the event.

In the newspaper for the 20th of October Camp, Chatter reports that a planned gymnastics festival had been cancelled because of damp weather9, but that the “old men’s” squad had successfully completed their part of it. There was a full account in the following edition10. It was obviously a lively event.

In December 1918 the camp was afflicted by the epidemic of Spanish flu, and one of the victims, Karl Kühne had been an enthusiastic gymnast11.

In March 1919 a “Sporting Entertainment Evening” was held on two consecutive evenings12. Among other activities this event included wrestling and boxing. In the same April edition of the newspaper there is an article by Robert Martin about the reconstruction of the German army after its defeat in the war in which he emphasises the importance of gymnastics as an element of training young men13.

An innovative gymnastic event involving greenery taken from the woods was held on Palm Sunday, the 13th of April14.

A “real gymnastics festival” was held on the 1st of June, the day on which twenty-eight prisoners from Alsace left to return home15.

The last event involving gymnastics recorded in the newspaper was the Variety Evening of the 27th-30th of July16, which included ring gymnastics.