Olympics and History of the Modern Games Germany 1936 Part 1

About the olympics and the modern games, account of the games in Berlin, Germany in 1936.


The 4th Winter Olympics were held near Munich, amid an enormous number of Nazi military groups, which worried many Americans. Sonja Henie took her 3rd and last figure-skating title; Karl Shafer, Austria, also repeated in men's skating. Miss Henie was one of Hitler's favorites. Norway's Iva Ballangund won 3 gold and one silver medal in speed skating. Teammate Birger Ruud won his 2nd Olympic ski-jumping title and the downhill race. Ruud's 2 brothers, Sigmund and Asbj??rn, were also famous ski-jumpers and all 3 were later put in concentration camps for refusing to turn "quisling"--the term derived from Maj. Vidkun Quisling, the Norwegian who collaborated with the Germans in 1940. (See: Roll Call, Chap. 10.)


A great furor developed in the U.S. over whether the U.S. should participate in the 11th Olympics in Berlin because of the Nazi Government. Avery Brundage, then president of the U.S. Olympic Committee, insisted that the plight of Jews in Germany was of no concern to sportsmen.

Nazi youth at 1st opposed holding the Olympic games. Perhaps the fact that German athletes had not done so well in the 1932 games was behind the German nonparticipation movement. Hitler, however, overcame the opposition and decided to make the games a showcase for Nazism. A huge Olympic Village was built at enormous cost.

The question of discrimination against Jews came to a head when 2 U.S. athletes, Martin Glickman and Sam Stoller, were not permitted to run in the 400-m. relay, being replaced by Jesse Owens and Ralph Metcalfe, excellent black runners. It has been suggested that the reason was that Germany and Italy had shown faster teams than expected. Although the black runners were undoubtedly a bit faster than the American Jews, the tactics used to remove them were questionable. To this day, some believe that Brundage and Dean Cromwell, an assistant coach, made a decision to bow to Nazi pressure to remove the Jewish athletes. Since Owens and the "black auxiliaries" (as one German paper slightingly referred to them) had already won several gold medals, some speculated that U.S. officials thought it would be less embarrassing to the Nazis if blacks, rather than Jews, won the race. It was a painful situation for Glickman and Stoller, the only Jews on the U.S. team and the only Americans who went home without competing in an event.

Jesse Owens was the undisputed star of the 1936 Olympics. He was a beautiful runner with satin-smooth style--a born sprinter. At Ohio State, in a Big Ten Conference meet, he had broken world records in the 100-and 220-yd. dashes and broad jump and tied the 200-m. hurdles mark, all within an hour. Owens was the only track and field competitor to win more than one gold medal at Berlin--he won 4--the 100 in world-record time, the 200, the 400-relay anchor, and the broad jump, with a world mark of 26'5" plus that stood for 24 years.

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