Berlin Games: How the Nazis Stole the Olympic Dream
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IN 1936, Adolf Hitler welcomed the world to Berlin to attend the Olympic Games. It promised to be not only a magnificent sporting event but also a grand showcase for the rebuilt Germany. No effort was spared to present the Third Reich as the newest global power. But beneath the glittering surface, the Games of the Eleventh Olympiad of the Modern Era came to act as a crucible for the dark political forces that were gathering, foreshadowing the bloody conflict to come.
The 1936 Olympics were nothing less than the most political sporting event of the last century—an epic clash between proponents of barbarism and those of civilization, both of whom tried to use the Games to promote their own values. Berlin Games is the complete history of those fateful two weeks in August. It is a story of the athletes and their accomplishments, an eye-opening account of the Nazi machine's brazen attempt to use the Games as a model of Aryan superiority and fascist efficiency, and a devastating indictment of the manipulative power games of politicians, diplomats, and Olympic officials that would ultimately have profound consequences for the entire world.
so politically minded. Halet Çambel, the Turkish fencer, found her fellow female athletes at the Friesian House singularly uninterested. ‘The queer thing was that in the Friesian House there was no talk about politics,’ she remembered. ‘I don’t remember that anyone was aware of what was happening. The other girls were just interested in their training and how they were going to do.’ Çambel said that the only reason she knew what was going on was that her mother had made friends with many German
figure skater) Baillet-Latour, Count Henri de: appearance; at Barcelona meeting in 1931; as IOC Chairman; on proposed dismissal of Lewald from GOC; and von Halt; warning over Nazi involvement in preparations for 1936 Games; at Vienna meeting in 1933; and Jews; respect given to; approach to Brundage; call for US support; acceptance of German statements on Jews in 1936 Games; at Athens convention in 1934; on certification by AOC of athletes for 1936 Games; and Tschammer und Osten’s assurance on
matter. Quite legitimately the common bond of sport can be used to ameliorate international relationships, and unless all our professing that the Olympic Games are a good thing is so much eyewash, a body such as the British Olympic Association can legitimately regard it as within its provinces to point out that racial and religious prejudices such as exist in Germany to-day tends [sic] to undermine the good which sport hopes to achieve. This encapsulated precisely what the Olympic Games were
he enthused. ‘Return proud of your efforts. Uphold the standards of fair play and prestige which our movement enjoys.’ And with that, the train steamed out of the station. They were to return sooner than they had anticipated. While the boycott movements were in their death throes, the diplomats were still discussing how to deal with Germany. On 17 June, Sir Eric Phipps wrote to the British Foreign Secretary, Anthony Eden, informing him that ‘the Chancellor is in great form and has no intention
protestations of the swimming team’s chaperone, Mrs Ada T. Sackett, who told her to go to bed. Holm refused. ‘Look,’ she replied, ‘it’s my third Olympic team. I don’t think you’ve been on any before. I know what I’m doing. And what are you doing up here? Why aren’t you downstairs watching the athletes?’ A shocked Mrs Sackett reported the incident to Avery Brundage, who reprimanded Holm the following day, reminding her of the contents of the AOC handbook, which stated: ‘It is understood of course