German athletes have competed at the Olympic Games since 1896, with the county either divided or united. Although East Germany came into being after WWII, from 1956 to 1964 both West and East Germany participated as the Unified Team of Germany (and their records are considered as Germany). It was only from 1968 to 1988 that East and West Germany participated as separate countries, before participating as a single nation again for the 1992 Games.
East Germany, officially referred to as German Democratic Republic (GDR), were only seen in the Olympics for a little over a decade but when they did, they never ranked past 10th place in the overall ranking of the nations that participated.
There are a lot of controversy about how they got to be so successful, but the records remain that they are one of the most dominant teams in the Olympics at that time, whether Summer of Winter Olympic Games. Until 1936, they were part of the Germany roster. They missed the 1948 and 1952 Olympics, and then was part of the United Team of Germany delegation from 1956 to 1964. Since the 1968 Summer Games, they dominated almost every sport that they participated in raking in numerous medals along the way.
In 1968, East Germany took in a total of 25 Olympic medals, nine of which are gold. They did even better in 1972 when they hosted the Summer Games where they won 66 medals that included 20 gold medals. They did even better in Montreal (1976) where they got a total 90 medals, 40 of which are gold. But their best was yet to come. In 1980, they won 126 Olympic medals that included a staggering 47 gold medal count. They did not participate in the 1984 Summer Games as part of the boycott but came back as strong as ever in Seoul, South Korea where they took home 102 medals including 37 gold ones. That was their last appearance in the Summer Games.
The story is not much different for the Winter Games. They ranked 10th in 1968, their official debut in the Winter Games but after that, they occupied the second highest rank for the next three Winter Games (1972, 1976, 1980) and they dominated the 1984 Winter Games which was held in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia. They slid back to second place in 1988 and after that, they all became part of the German delegation to the Winter Olympics.
- East German athlete Christa Rothenburger won a silver medal in track cycling in Seoul in 1988. Seven months earlier she had won the women's 1000 meter speed skating event at the Winter Olympics in Calgary. She became the first and only athlete to win medals in both a Summer and Winter Olympics in the same year.
- West Germany, East Germany and Germany at the Winter Olympics
- About the Unified Team of Germany
- List of all countries that have participated at the Olympic Games.
- Berlin Olympic Games 1936
- Munich Olympic Games 1972.
- About Sport in Germany