THE BERLIN OLYMPICS: 1936 “HITLER’S OLYMPICS”

The Berlin Olympics of 1936 were supposed to be one of the crowning glories of Hitler’s dictatorship.

What, again, is a ‘dictatorship’?
It is a political system where a single person or a group of people are responsible for running a country and they do so with coercion, threats, propaganda and arbitrary imprisonment of people. Free speech is also not allowed.

What is ‘coercion’?
Forcing people or a person to do something.

What is something which is ‘arbitrary’?
It is something which is without good reason or even a real reason.

What is a ‘crowning glory’?
It is an event or activity which shows something off in the best possible way.

The whole of Berlin was cleaned up, bright red, white and black banners were hung all over the city. Any signs of Anti-Semitism were removed, Jews were allowed to live normal lives - from August 1st to August 16th.

Countries which had doubts about the fairness and equality of the Nazi regime were persuaded to “come and have a look at our country” and see for themselves how good everything was. When the representatives of those countries went to see, all was indeed good.

One country in particular which was in two minds as to whether or not to attend the Olympics was the USA. The leader of their Olympic committee was Avery Brundage; who had been an amateur athlete and rose to become the leader of American Olympians. Unfortunately, he was also an ardent supporter of the Nazis and a Racist; her lobbied - tried to persuade - all countries to attend the Olympics.

Why did he do this, in spite of there being a brutal suppression of the Jews and other minorities?
This was because Brundage was invited to Germany, before the Olympics and he was treated as if he was a King. He was shown only the best parts of the Nazi country, the best Nazi athletes, the best facilities for the Olympics and crucially, he was shown Jewish athletes training and having mock-competitions with German athletes.

This all convinced him that Nazi Germany was a good and honourable place, with no anti-semitism, no oppression, and was a good example of a fair and open country. Well, of COURSE he thought that - it was what he was shown. He was NOT shown the ghettoes, the bad conditions, the poverty of the minorities and nor was he allowed to talk to those who were oppressed.

Once again Hitler fooled other countries. Anti-Semitism was as strong as it had ever had been and was getting worse. It was simply hidden during the Olympics.

The Olympics were also designed to show the superiority of the Aryan Race over all other races, especially the “non-humans” - Blacks.

Unfortunately for Hitler, Jesse Owens, a young black athlete won 4 Gold Medals, far beating the best of the Germans.
In 1936, Owens and his United States teammates sailed on the SS Manhattan and arrived in Germany to compete at the Summer Olympics in Berlin. According to fellow American sprinter James LuValle, who won the bronze in the 400 meters, Owens arrived at the new Olympic stadium to a throng of fans, many of them young girls yelling "Wo ist Jesse? Wo ist Jesse?" ("Where is Jesse? Where is Jesse?”).

Just before the competitions, founder of Adidas athletic shoe company Adi Dassler visited Owens in the Olympic village and persuaded Owens to wear Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik shoes; this was the first sponsorship for a male African American athlete.

On August 3, Owens won the 100 m dash with a time of 10.3 seconds, defeating a teammate and a college friend Ralph Metcalfe by a tenth of a second and defeating Tinus Osendarp of the Netherlands by two tenths of a second.

On August 4, he won the long jump with a leap of 8.06 metres (26 ft 5 in) (3¼ inches short of his own world record). He later credited this achievement to the technical advice that he received from Luz Long, the German competitor whom he defeated.

On August 5, he won the 200 m sprint with a time of 20.7 seconds, defeating teammate Mack Robinson (the older brother of Jackie Robinson).

On August 9, Owens won his fourth gold medal in the 4 × 100 m sprint relay when head coach Lawson Robertson replaced Jewish-American sprinters Marty Glickman and Sam Stoller with Owens and Ralph Metcalfe, who teamed with Frank Wykoff and Foy Draper to set a world record of 39.8 seconds in the event. Owens had initially protested the last-minute switch, but assistant coach Dean Cromwell said to him, "You'll do as you are told."

Owens' record-breaking performance of four gold medals was not equaled until Carl Lewis won gold medals in the same events at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

Owens had set the world record in the long jump with a leap of 8.13 m (26 ft 8 in) in 1935, the year before the Berlin Olympics, and this record stood for 25 years until it was broken in 1960 by countryman Ralph Boston. Coincidentally, Owens was a spectator at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome when Boston took the gold medal in the long jump.

The long-jump victory is documented, along with many other 1936 events, in the 1938 film Olympia by Leni Riefenstahl.

On August 1, 1936, Nazi Germany’s leader Adolf Hitler shook hands with the German victors only and then left the stadium. International Olympic Committee president Henri de Baillet-Latour insisted that Hitler greet every medalist or none at all. Hitler opted for the latter and skipped all further medal presentations.

The Berlin Olympics were not a success for Hitler; although many showed their loyalty to the regime, many did not. Hitler was outraged whenever a non-German won and often became bad tempered.
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