1936 Berlin Olympics
By: Abdullah Eyada
This paper is about the 1936 Berlin Olympics. It took
place in Berlin, Nazi Germany. It happened during the year 1936. The Berlin
Olympics are known for the propaganda and the targeting of Jews and Gypsies. They
also took many Jews and other people off the street to show a picture of a
peaceful and tolerate Germany. Hitler had a huge role in the Olympics. Hitler
saw the Olympic games as nothing but a chance to showcase Germany to the world.
Hitler tried to exclude people from participating in the games for no reason but
their race. This led to conflict and boycotting until Hitler finally agreed to
lift the rule and let all people enter.
The Berlin Olympics were known for the political
atmosphere that occurred during the games. It was also known for the discrimination
of some races. The Nazis used the Olympic games for propaganda. The Berlin
Olympic games were a unique historical event.
was voted to host the Olympic games in 1931, In 1933 the Nazi party rose to
power (Grannan, n.d). After this many western countries wanted to boycott the
Olympics. This was because they were disgusted by the German’s racist policies
and human rights violations. 49 countries still attended the Berlin Olympics. That
was the biggest number of countries to ever attend the Olympic games at their
time. The Nazis spent 162.4 million dollars building a 325-acre Olympic sport
complex (The History Place, 2001). It was located five miles west of Berlin.
The centerpiece of the Olympic complex was a stadium able to seat 110,000
people. It was the largest stadium in the world. The president of Germany’s
Olympic Committee was kicked out after it was discovered his grandmother was
Jewish. He was replaced by a man named Hans von Tschammer und Osten (The History Place, 2001). He established
the “Aryans Only” policy in choosing Germany’s Olympic athletes. Some of the
Jews who were not allowed to participate were world class athletes. Most of
them and other Jew athletes left Germany to continue their careers elsewhere.
The Nazis also didn’t allow Gypsies to participate including their champion
boxer Johann Trollmann. These bans were condemned internationally as a
violation of Olympic code of equality and fair play (The History Place, 2001). The Olympics were supposed to be an
exercise in goodwill among all nations emphasizing racial equality in sports
competition. The Nazis, however, had no interest in promoting racial equality
and hoped instead to use the Olympics to show off Aryan athletes, who they
believed were naturally superior because of their race (The History Place, 2001).
The Nazis attitude brought international calls for a boycott of the Berlin
games. There were also requests to move the games to another country. For many
American critics of the Hitler regime, the banning of Jews from Germany’s
Olympic team was the last straw. The American Olympic Committee was headed by
former U.S. Olympic athlete, Avery Brundage, who initially supported the idea
of a boycott of the Berlin Olympics (The History Place, 2001). The Nazis
attempted to smooth things over by inviting Brundage to Germany and took him to
see special training courses supposedly set up for use by Jews in Germany.
Brundage was impressed by what he saw and by the extra-special VIP treatment he
was given by the Nazis. As a result, Brundage returned to America and announced
on September 26, 1934, that the American Olympic Committee officially accepted
the invitation to participate in the Berlin Olympics (The History Place, 2001).
The Amateur Athletic Union, however, was not so easily swayed. Its leader,
Jeremiah Mahoney, declared that American participation in the Berlin Games
meant nothing less than giving American moral and financial support to the Nazi
regime, which is opposed to all that Americans hold important. Mahoney was
supported in his position by various American Jewish and Christian leaders,
along with liberal politicians such as New York Governor Al Smith. 41 college
presidents also voiced their support for a boycott. In addition, America’s
trade union leaders supported an Olympic boycott and pushed for a complete
economic boycott of Nazi Germany. They were strongly anti-Hitler because of the
orderly division of Germany’s trade unions by the Nazis. Responding to the
mounting international pressure, the Nazis made a token gesture by allowing a
part-Jewish athlete, Helene Mayer, back on their Olympic team. She had won a
gold medal at the 1928 Games and was the world’s greatest female fencer. The
Nazis also let the part-Jewish Theodor Lewald function as an advisor to Germany’s
Olympic Organizing Committee (The History Place, 2001). Avery Brundage
responded to his own critics by claiming the Olympics were meant for
“athletes not politicians.” He succeeded in convincing several
American athletes to his point of view. When the Amateur Athletic Union took
its final vote on December 8, 1935, the boycott proposal was voted down by a
very thin margin.
Tourists entered a clean Berlin where all
undesirable people had been swept off the streets by police and sent to a
special detention camp outside the city. Buildings everywhere were decorated
with Olympic flags hung side-by-side with Nazi swastikas including all the
various facilities used for sporting competitions (The History Place, 2001). The
“Jews Not Welcome” signs normally seen throughout Germany were removed from
hotels, restaurants and public places for the duration of the Olympics. Nazi
storm troopers were also ordered to refrain from any actions against Jews. Interestingly,
visitors wanting to talk to Jews in Berlin about their daily experiences or
investigate Jewish life in Nazi Germany were required to contact the Gestapo
first, after which they would be closely watched until they departed. Over 5,000 athletes from 51 nations then
marched in according to alphabetical order, with Greece leading the whole
parade and the host country, Germany, at the end. But even the opening ceremony
was not without controversy, the question being whether athletes would give the
Nazi salute to Hitler as they passed by his stand. There was some confusion
over this issue, since the Olympic salute with right arm held out sideways from
the shoulder could also be mistaken for the Hitler stiff-arm salute. Most
countries gave either one or the other. Austrian athletes gave the Hitler
salute. French athletes gave the Hitler salute, although some French athletes
later claimed it was the Olympic salute. The Bulgarians outdid everyone by goose
stepping past Hitler (The History Place, 2001). The British and Americans chose
a military style salute. Jesse Owens was probably the most famous athlete from
the 1936 Berlin Olympics. The 100 and 200-meter sprints were won by Jesse Owens.
He set new world records in both races. He went on to win four gold medals in
all, setting a world record in the long jump and assisted in setting one in the
400-meter relay. Owens became an instant superstar in Berlin. German fans
chanted his name whenever he entered the Olympic Stadium and mobbed him for
autographs in the street. Another big news story erupted in America when it was
revealed that the only two Jews on the U.S. track team had been dumped at the
last minute from the 400-meter relay race (The History Place, 2001). On the
morning of the race, the two of them were informed by their head coach they
would be replaced by Jesse Owens and Ralph Metcalfe. People later thought that
Avery Brundage might have pressured the American coaches to drop the Jews to
avoid upsetting Hitler. As a result, they wound up sitting in the stands
watching the race which they might have easily won themselves since they were
excellent relay runners.
The Olympics End
The Olympic Games concluded on Sunday,
August 16, with Germany as the overall victor, capturing 89 medals. The
Americans came in second with 56. The Games were preserved on film by Triumph of the Will director
Leni Riefenstahl. Financed by the Nazis, she brought thirty-three camera
operators to the Olympics and shot over a million feet of film. It took her
eighteen months to edit Olympia into
a four-hour film which was released in two parts beginning in April 1938. The
Berlin Games saw the first-ever use of television at the Olympics, although the
graphics were not very good. At the Olympic
Village, where all the male athletes lived, a large recreation building known
as Hindenburg Hall had a TV room where they could watch live competitions.
Seventeen other sites around Berlin also featured TV rooms. The Olympic Village
itself received great reviews from everyone who stayed there. The 130-acre
village was constructed by the German Army under the direction of Captain
Wolfgang Fuerstner. It was laid out in the shape of a map of Germany and
contained 140 buildings including a post office and bank. Each of the athletes’
houses contained 13 bedrooms, with two athletes per room. There were two
stewards always on duty in each house who spoke the athletes’ native language.
Training facilities in the Village included a 400-meter oval track and a
full-size indoor swimming pool (The History Place, 2001). The 1936 Berlin
Olympics were unique.
the Berlin Olympics were an enormous success for the Nazis. Hundreds of
journalists acknowledged that Germany had put on the most lavish and biggest
Olympics ever. Thousands of tourists also left Germany with happy memories of
the politeness extended to them by the Nazis and the German people, as well as
the fantastic places and precise efficiency of the whole event. In Conclusion,
the Berlin Olympics were based on politics and racism.
Brown, Daniel James. The Boys in The Boat.
Seattle, Seattle Times, 2013.
This book gave me
information on a person’s point of view competing in the Olympics. I used this
book to help format my paper to be more like a story.
Lily. “6 Moments That Shaped the Berlin Olympics.” The Culture Trip, 24
Accessed 17 Nov. 2017.
This article told me
about important people who participated in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. These
people included Jesse Owens, Marjorie Gestring, and John Woodruff. The article
also explained their achievements in the games.
C N Trueman “The 1936 Berlin Olympics”
historylearningsite.co.uk. The History Learning Site,
9 Mar 2015. 28 Jan 2018.
This website was
information on the propaganda that happened during the games. I used it to
write about the propaganda.
“The Dark Side of Classicism.” Guggenheim, 5
Feb. 2008, www.guggenheim.org/arts-curriculum/topic/dark-side-of-classicism.
Accessed 18 Jan. 2018.
This website was about
the ideals of Hitler. It gave me information about how Hitler compared Germany
to the great Ancient civilizations. I used this information in my paper to
explain the propaganda that occurred during the games.
Goss, Jennifer L., Contributing Writer. “1936 Olympic
Games.” ThoughtCo, Apr. 17, 2017, thoughtco.com/1936-olympic-games-1779271.
This website gave me an
overview of the main events that occurred during the games. I used it to add
details to my paper.
Grannan, Cydney. “7 Significant Political Events at
the Olympic Games.” Encyclopedia Britannica,
Accessed 27 Jan. 2018.
This website was a summary of the Olympics. I
used it to add information about the propaganda to my paper.
Green, David B. “1936: A Jew Wins a Medal for Nazi
Germany in the Berlin Olympics.” HAARETZ, 5 Aug. 2016,
11 Jan. 2018.
This website was about a
Jew who competed in the Olympics. I learned about a Jew named Helene Mayer who
won a silver medal in the fencing competition. I used this information as
background knowledge on the Jews that competed.
Holocaust Museum. “The Nazi Olympics Berlin 1936.” Ushmm.org,
1st ed., version 1, revision 1, Holocaust Museum, 4 Apr. 2013,
www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005680. Accessed 19 Oct. 2017.
This website gave me
information about the main parts of the Berlin Olympics. I used it to give me
extra insight on the events that occurred during the games.
“The 1936 Berlin Olympics.” Greyfalcon, 5 June
2006, greyfalcon.us/The%201936%20Olympics.htm. Accessed 12 Jan. 2018.
This website was about
the boycotting that happened before the Olympics. I used this information to
write about the boycott in my paper.
Ockerman, Emma. “What happened when Hitler hosted the
Olympics 80 years ago?” Times, 12 Sept. 2016, p. 1,
time.com/4432857/hitler-hosted-olympics-1936/. Accessed 3 Nov. 2017. This website gave me an overview on main
events that happened during the 1936 Berlin Olympics. It gave me information on
the reason why Hitler wanted to host the Olympics.
“Olympics Games of 1936.” Yadvashem, edited by
Shoah Resource Center, 7 June 2005,
www.yadvashem.org/odot_pdf/Microsoft%20Word%20-%205801.pdf. Accessed 5 Dec.
This website gave me an
overview of the Olympics. I used this information to add details to my
Preis, Ellen, editor. “The Nazi Olympics.” Jewish
Virtual Library, 1st ed., version 2, revision 1, Holocaust Museum, 13 Apr.
2000, www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/the-nazi-olympics-august-1936. Accessed 27
This website was an
overview of the Olympics. I used it to write about the exclusion of the
Smith, Amanda. “Remembering the 1936 Berlin ‘Nazi
Olympics.'” ABC, 5 Aug. 2015,
Accessed 5 Dec. 2017.
article was about the beginning of the Olympics. It gave me information about
the beginning ceremony of the Olympics. I used this information to explain the
ceremony in my paper.
Stanford. “Berlin the City.” Stanford, 9 Oct.
Accessed 17 Nov. 2017.
This website gave me
information about the political environment of the Olympics. I used it to talk
about the political aspect of the Olympics.
“The Triumph of Hitler.” The History Place, 6
June 2001, www.historyplace.com/worldwar2/triumph/tr-olympics.htm. Accessed 27
This website was an
overview about the Olympics. I used it to give me extra information on