Presentation on theme: "Hitler’s Olympics. In August 1936, Adolf Hitler’s Nazi dictatorship scored a huge propaganda success as host of the Summer Olympics in Berlin. The Games."— Presentation transcript:
In August 1936, Adolf Hitler’s Nazi dictatorship scored a huge propaganda success as host of the Summer Olympics in Berlin. The Games were a brief, two-week interlude in Germany’s escalating campaign against its Jewish population and the country’s march toward war.
Minimizing its antisemitic agenda and plans for territorial expansion, the regime exploited the Games to impress many foreign spectators and journalists with an image of a peaceful, tolerant Germany. Having rejected a proposed boycott of the 1936 Olympics, the United States and other western democracies missed the opportunity to take a stand that contemporary observers claimed might have restrained Hitler and bolstered international resistance to Nazi tyranny.
After the Olympics, Germany's expansionism and the persecution of Jews and other "enemies of the state" accelerated, culminating in World War II and the Holocaust.
Hitler harnessed sport as part of its drive to strengthen the "Aryan race," to exercise political control over its citizens, and to prepare German youth for war. "Non- Aryans"--Jewish or part-Jewish and Gypsy athletes--were systematically excluded from German sports facilities and associations.
Forty-nine athletic teams from around the world competed in the Berlin Olympics. Germany had the largest team at the Berlin Games with 348 athletes. The Soviet Union did not participate in the Berlin Games or any Olympiad until the 1952 Helsinki Games. The United States had the second largest team with 312 members.
Choreographed pageantry, record-breaking athletic feats, and warm German hospitality made the 1936 Olympic Games memorable for athletes and spectators. Behind the facade, however, a ruthless dictatorship persecuted its enemies and rearmed for war to acquire new "living space" for the "Aryan master race."
Germany skillfully promoted the Olympics with colorful posters and magazine spreads. Athletic imagery drew a link between Nazi Germany and ancient Greece. These portrayals symbolized the Nazi racial myth that superior German civilization was the rightful heir of an "Aryan" culture of classical antiquity.
On August 1, 1936, Hitler opened the XIth Olympiad.
Eighteen Black athletes represented the United States in the 1936 Olympics. African-Americans dominated the popular track and field events. Many American journalists hailed the victories of Jesse Owens and other Blacks as a blow to the Nazi myth of Aryan supremacy.
A controversial move at the Games was the benching of two American Jewish runners, Marty Glickman and Sam Stoller. Both had trained for the 4x100-meter relay, but on the day before the event, they were replaced. Avery Brundage, head of the US Olympic Committee, was accused of anti-Semitism because he had stated he wanted to spare the Fuhrer the embarrassing sight of two American Jews on the winning podium.
Germany emerged victorious from the XIth Olympiad. Its athletes captured the most medals overall, and German hospitality and organization won the praises of visitors. Most newspaper accounts echoed a report in the New York Times that the Games put Germans "back in the fold of nations," and even made them "more human again."
The pause in the Germany's anti-Jewish campaign was brief. William E. Dodd, the U.S. ambassador to Germany, reported that Jews awaited "with fear and trembling" the end of the Olympic truce. Two days after the Olympics, Captain Wolfgang Fürstner, head of the Olympic village, killed himself after he was dismissed from active military service because of his Jewish ancestry.
In 1938, Germany incorporated Austria into the Reich and intensified the anti-Jewish campaign. On the evening of November 9-10, 1938 -- Kristallnacht, "The Night of Broken Glass" -- rioters burned over 1,000 synagogues in Germany and Austria, vandalized and looted 7,000 Jewish businesses and homes, and killed dozens of Jews in an assault. WWII began on September 1, 1939, when Hitler invaded Poland.
Many former German athletes met brutal fates, including wrestler Herman Seelenbinder, member of a resistance group in Germany who was arrested in 1942 and later beheaded for treason. Johann Trollman, a Gypsy boxer who was expelled from the German Boxing Association in 1933, died ten years later at a Nazi concentration camp.