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Festivals and Celebrations

Mass Rallies, Demonstrations and the first German-Workers'-Gymnastics- and Sports Festival

As a result of the revolution, workers are able to bring their celebrations into Leipzig’s city center. Mass demonstrations and rallies frequently take place to celebrate May 1st and major USPD and KPD political party events no longer take place exclusively in restaurants but also on Augustusplatz and in other public places. After Leipzig had developed into a stronghold of workers' sport events from the middle of the 19th century, the city becomes the host for the first German-Workers'-Gymnastics- and Sports Festival in July, 1922, which takes place mainly on the official festival site (today the ”Old Fairground”, “Alte Messe”), but also on Augustusplatz where open air gymnastics exercises are held involving thousands of participants. Apart from gymnastics competitions, practiced disciplines include football, cycling and wrestling. 100,000 participants from more than 15 countries will come to the city for the festival, whose accommodation and catering is affordably provided in cooperation with the Volkshaus. This event of international understanding portrays a remarkable first of its kind novelty taking place only shortly after World War I.

The University and the Bourgeoisie in the Revolution

The University of Leipzig is a center of the bourgeois-conservative and mostly nationalist faction which vehemently opposes the revolution. Thus, the almost exclusively male students and professors protest against the hoisting of the red flag on the Augusteum which had been ordered by the Workers' and Soldiers' Council. In November 1918, this faction of students and professors take down the symbol of the revolution and raise the flag of the university instead. The controversial dispute results in the resignation of the university rector. There are only a few socialist groups among the students and lecturers rarely share the liberal values of the young republic.

In general, the Leipzig bourgeoisie recovers quickly from the initial shock of the revolutionary upheaval. The city’s public officials demonstrate a tenacious persistence and prevent the total conquest of the town hall by the Workers' and Soldiers' Council which obstructs the Council’s socialist will to reshape the city. Generally, the bourgeois have no difficulty adapting to the new conditions. Their wages and salaries continue to be paid and most of their privileges remain untouched. They celebrate their own festivals and continue to dominate the established cultural events and institutions. Fearing radical restructuring, proletarian forms of organization are taken over by the bourgeoisie. In the spring of 1919, while workers are on a general strike for the legal establishment of Workers' and Soldiers' Councils and for workers’ councils as a step towards socialization of the industry, the bourgeois faction sets up its own councils and organizes a bourgeois counter-strike. In addition to the administrative officials taking part in the strike, pharmacists, doctors, teachers, craftspeople and other professionals also get involved which was exceptional for such groups. Meanwhile, salaries of administrative officials are prematurely paid by the city, however, the striking workers don’t get paid at all.

Leipzig Trade Fair achieves Global Significance

Due to a lack of space in Leipzig's city center, the Technical Fair and Building Exhibition, which first takes place in 1918, is given a permanent location on today's Alte Messe. The International Building Exhibition had already been held here in 1913 prompting the construction of the first three buildings at this site for the Technical Fair which are opened for the spring fair in 1920. Due to the tremendous international success during the 1920s, the exhibition center grows rapidly. By 1928, a total of 17 halls have been built. However, since the end of the war, the Leipzig Trade Fair has continually had a lack of space in the city center. As early as 1919, many exhibitors are no longer able to get a stand. The "Reklameburg" (Advertising Fortress) is created – a wooden hall provisionally erected for each fair. The "Reklameburg" extends over almost the entire Market and characteristically consists entirely of billboards. The city council eventually limits the disruptive and for trade fair needs, the inadequate construction of the "Reklameburg" until the year 1924, whereupon exhibitors demand and push for a solution. Thus, at the spring fair in 1925, after a construction period of only one year, the world's first underground trade fair building with an exhibition area of 1800 square meters is opened under the Leipzig Market.