Ernst Thaelmann Stadion – Then And Now

An aerial view of the ERNST THAELMANN STADION in Karl Marx Stadt, East Germany, taken in 1988 during an event staged by the Ernst Thaelmann Pioneer Organization, which was a subdivision of the Freie Deutsche Jugend (Free German Youth) whose mission was to teach schoolchildren ages 6 thru 14 socialist ideology and prepare the youngsters for membership in the FDJ … (Jan Peter Kasper/ADN-ZB/Deutsches Bundesarchiv)

Although the national team of East Germany traditionally preferred to host important football contests at the Zentralstadion (with its proven capacity to hold over 100,000) in the city of Leipzig, the facts forever remain that the very last World Cup qualification as well as the very last international friendly matches ever hosted by the Deutsche Demokratische Republik were staged at the ERNST THAELMANN STADION in KARL MARX STADT.

Having been renamed by the East German authorities in 1953 after the famous 19th century German philospher and communist revolutionary, Karl Marx, the Saxony city reverted back to its historical name — CHEMNITZ — following the collapse of the Deutsche Demokratische Republik.

The stadium later re-named after the Weimar Republic-era leader of the German Communist Party (Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands), Ernst Thaelmann, was initially built in 1926 to hold a capacity of 10,000 and, two years later, hosted its first-ever football match between FC Chemnitz and SV Hamburg. Originally christened the Kampfbahn an der Reichenhainer Strasse, from 1933 to 1938, the site was referred to as the Suedkampfbahn (south battleground) and, until the end of the Second World War, was thereafter called the Grosskampfbahn (great battleground). Today, the stadium, which has undergone a few renovations over the long years and now lists 18,500 as the official capacity, is known as the SPORTFORUM CHEMNITZ.


The former Ernst Thaelmann Stadion, site of the final World Cup qualification match with the Soviet Union in October of 1989 and the very last international friendly hosted by East Germany (a warm-up for World Cup-qualifier Egypt in April of 1990), as it stood in 2007 … (Kolossos/

The Sportforum Chemnitz (ex-Ernst Thaelmann Stadion) should not be confused with the home ground of FC Chemnitzer, the team who last competed as FC Karl Marx Stadt in the top flight of East German football, the old Oberliga.

FC Chemnitzer, whose last campaign yielded promotion to the third division of German football for this season, contest their home fixtures, as has traditionally been the case, at the smaller Stadion an der Gellertstrasse — officially known as Dr. Kurt Fischer Stadion and nicknamed Fischerwiese during the days of the Deutsche Demokratische Republik — which has an official capacity of 16,061.

The Ernst Thaelmann Stadion was used, because of its larger size, occasionally by FC Karl Marx Stadt for some important domestic matches and all of its games in UEFA European competition.

Nowadays, the Sportforum Chemnitz is utilized as a training facility by Chemntizer FC; the old Ernst Thaelmann Stadion is also used by Chemnitzer FC as the home ground for matches of their senior reserve team, the women’s team in addition to the club’s youth teams.


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