Pierre de Coubertin

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Pierre de Frédy, Baron de Coubertin (born January 1, 1863 in Paris , † September 2, 1937 in Geneva ) was a French educator , historian and sports official . Coubertin was instrumental in reviving the Olympic Games and founded the International Olympic Committee in 1894 , of which he was second president from 1896 to 1925.

Pierre de Coubertin (around 1894)
The Olympic rings designed de Coubertin in 1913
Bust of Pierre de Coubertin in Baden-Baden


Coubertin was born near Versailles as the fourth child of Charles Louis de Frédy and Agathe-Gabrielle de Mirville . He came from a long-established noble family , which traces its roots back to the Roman de Fredis (and thus to the discoverer of the Laocoon group , Felice de Fredis).

He studied art, philology and law at the Sorbonne . He did not start the officer career that was intended for him, instead devoting himself to education . Study trips took him to Canada , the USA and England . There he came into contact with the ideas of Thomas Arnold . He finally came to the conviction that new paths were essential in upbringing and wanted to grasp and shape the whole person in the unity of body, mind and soul through sports training.

From 1880, influenced by the archaeological excavations in Olympia , Greece , he advocated a revival of the Olympic Games , with which he wanted to overcome national egoisms and contribute to peace and international understanding. The overcoming progress in the social field should be symbolized by a sporty pursuit of record according to the motto " Citius, altius, fortius " (Latin, in German: faster, higher, stronger). According to Coubertin's Olympic ideal, only adult, male lone fighters should take part, similar to the ancient model. In the long run, he could not enforce the exclusion of women from participating in the games. The Olympic Congress of 1914 in Paris decided, against Coubertin's declared will, that the Olympic medals of women should have the same value in the (then still official) national ranking as those of men.

Coubertin was general secretary of the French sports association Union des sociétés françaises de sports athlétiques . In this capacity he regularly had problems with the starts of his athletes in England, due to the different amateur regulations. When John Astley Cooper initiated the "Pan British Olympic Games" in 1891 and Astley Cooper committees were formed throughout the Empire, Coubertin anticipated him with international Olympic Games. In 1894 Coubertin founded the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and became General Secretary himself. In front of 60,000 spectators, the first modern Olympic Games opened on April 6, 1896 in Athens , in which 295 male athletes (exclusively amateurs ) from 13 nations took part.

In 1912 Coubertin became the first Olympic champion in the literature discipline under the pseudonym "Georges Hohrod and Martin Eschbach" with the work Ode to Sport . In 1913 he designed the Olympic rings , which became the symbol of the Olympic Games from 1920. From 1896 to 1925 Coubertin was President of the IOC . In 1915, after the outbreak of World War I , he moved the headquarters of the IOC and its archives to Lausanne , Switzerland, and thus to a neutral country that corresponded to his pacifist ideals. After joining the French army during the war, Godefroy de Blonay , a close confidante of Coubertin, temporarily took over his post from 1916 to 1919 . Coubertin was later named Honorary President of all Olympic Games for life.

In May 1936, Adolf Hitler gave Coubertin, who was in financial need, an honorary gift of RM 10,000 . When asked by a French journalist why he supported the Nazi Games , he replied that the most important thing was that they were celebrated in a grand way, regardless of whether they were used as a tourist advertisement for Southern California like in 1932 or as an advertisement for a political system like 1936 use.

In 1937 he became an honorary citizen of Lausanne. After his death, Coubertin's heart was buried in a memorial column built for him in Olympia.


The Pierre de Coubertin Medal was named after Pierre de Coubertin, and it is awarded to athletes for particularly fair behavior. In 1971, Coubertinplatz in Munich's Olympic Park was named after him. A grammar school was named after him in Radstadt, Austria. The asteroid (2190) Coubertin , discovered on April 2, 1976, was named after him. Coubertin was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1936 .

See also


  • International Journal of the History of Sport, Volume 23 Issue 3 & 4 2006 - This Great Symbol: Pierre de Coubertin and the Origins of the Modern Olympic Games.
  • Louis Callebat: Pierre de Coubertin . Fayard, Paris 1988, ISBN 2-213-02149-X .
  • Friedrich Hartmannsgruber: Files of the Reich Chancellery Volume 3, Munich, 2002.
  • Marie-Thérèse Eyquem: Pierre de Coubertin, a life for the youth of the world . Schropp, Dortmund 1972, ISBN 3-920866-00-2 .
  • This: Pierre de Coubertin, l'épopée olympique , Paris: Calmann-Lévy, 1968.
  • Arnd Krüger : The Origins of Pierre de Coubertin's Religio Athletae in: Olympika. The International Journal of Olympic Studies 2 (1993), 91-102.
  • John MacAloon: This Great Symbol. Pierre de Coubertin and the Origins of the Modern Olympic Games , University of Chicago Press, 1981, New Edition: Routledge 2007.
  • Norbert Müller: Bibliography Pierre de Courbetin . CIPC, Lausanne 1991, ISBN 3-88500-328-7 .
  • Ines Niklaus: Pierre de Coubertin's Olympic idea as an educational challenge for the worldwide Olympic movement: a historical review, analysis and continuation of national and international Olympic educational programs for schools Agon-Sportverlag, Kassel 2013, ISBN 978-3-89784-962-4 ( Dissertation Uni Mainz 2010, 554 pages).
  • Stephan Wassong: Pierre de Coubertin's American studies and their influence on the analysis of his early education campaign . Ergon, Würzburg 2002, ISBN 978-3-89913-252-6 .
  • Karel Wendl, Marco Marcacci: Coubertin, Pierre de. In: Historical Lexicon of Switzerland .
  • Kurt Zentner : Pierre de Coubertin! A contribution to the development of modern sport . University publishing house by Robert Noske, Borna / Leipzig 1935, DNB 361350147 (inaugural dissertation, University of Leipzig 1935, 68 pages).

Web links

Commons : Pierre de Coubertin  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Arnd Krüger (1997): Forgotton Decisions. The IOC on the Eve of World War I. Olympika , 6 (1), 85-98 .
  2. ^ Arnd Krüger (1986). Was John Astley Cooper the inventor of the modern Olympics? In: In: Louis Burgener et al. (eds.): Sport and Culture, vol. 6. Bern: Lang, pp. 72–81. Katharine Moore (1989). 'The warmth of comradeship': the first British empire games and imperial solidarity. The International Journal of the History of Sport 6: 2, 242-251. Today Astley Cooper is only considered the founder of the Commonwealth Games
  3. Text of the Ode ( Memento of the original from January 11, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.entwuerfe.ch
  4. ^ Marie-Hélène Guex: Olympic Movement. In: Historical Lexicon of Switzerland .
  5. ^ Arnd Krüger (2004). 'What's the Difference between Propaganda for Tourism and for a Political Regime?' What the 1936 Olympics the first Postmodern Spectacle? In: J. BALE & M. KROGH CHRISTENSEN (eds.): Post-Olympism? Questioning Sport in the Twenty-first Century. Oxford: Berg 2004, 33-50.
  6. ^ Lutz D. Schmadel : Dictionary of Minor Planet Names . Fifth Revised and Enlarged Edition. Ed .: Lutz D. Schmadel. 5th edition. Springer Verlag , Berlin , Heidelberg 2003, ISBN 978-3-540-29925-7 , pp. 178 (English, 992 pp., Link.springer.com [ONLINE; accessed October 27, 2017] Original title: Dictionary of Minor Planet Names . First edition: Springer Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg 1992): “Named in memory of Pierre de Coubertin (1863–1937) ”