What Were The Nazi Olympics?

The 1936 Olympic Games took place in Berlin, Germany. Hitler tried to exploit the games to display his political strength.

The XI Olympics were remembered for their political nature, Adolf Hitler's efforts to draw an image of a peaceful, tolerant Germany and trying to exploit the games for propaganda.

The 1936 Olympic Games were awarded to Berlin by the International Olympic Committee as a choice to show that Germany had regained its status among European Countries following its defeat in World War I. This decision was made in May 1931. Two years after, Hitler gained power and established a regime focusing on the racial policies that aimed to purify the Germanic -Aryan- population.

The Nazi Government idea of sports was to strengthen the Aryan race and to prepare the German youth for war. They began to exclude Jews, Gypsies and the other Non-Aryan Athletes from all the sports facilities and associations.

Observing these policies, United States and the other Western Democracies started to question the morality of supporting and participating at the upcoming Olympics.

The boycott proposals were defeated in the USA as well as in other democratic countries.

Forty-nine teams from around the world competed in the Berlin Games. Germany had the largest team. The Berlin games were also the first to be broadcast and televised.

Anti-Jew signs were removed from the streets of Germany, military presence was minimized with the efforts to pursue a peaceful and democratic environment.

There was not a single German Jew invited to participate at the Olympic games except for Helene Mayer, who was only half Jewish. They rationalized this elimination to the West by claiming that it was not a process of discrimination but a fact that the Jewish athletes in Germany were not good enough.

On August 1, Hitler opened the Olympics. Eighteen African American athletes represented the United States who won a total of 14 medals and dominated the popular track and field events. Among them, one name became unforgettable- Jesse Owens who was the first competitor to win four gold medals. He took the 100 meters, the 200 meters and the long jump. He was also on the 4x100-meter relay team.

A shocking move at the games was the two Jewish members of the US team- Sam Stroller and Marty Glickman who were trained for the 4x100-meter relay - were removed by their coaches. They were replaced by Jesse Owens and Ralph Metcalfe. The coaches claimed that they needed their fastest athletes to win the race however many believed that the coaches were motivated by anti-Semitism.

Thirteen Jews or persons of Jewish descent won medals in the 1936 Nazi Olympics. As a result, Hitler failed in his attempt to use the Olympic Games to prove his theory of racial superiority as the world hailed the victories of the Non-Aryan Athletes.

German athletes won the most medals overall. But in the most featured sports of track and field and swimming, the Americans dominated. German hospitality and organization was praised by the Western Countries. Meanwhile, Hitler already had the plan of execution of millions of Jews and the invasion of Poland on his mind. With the ending of the games, Germany's expansionist and purification policies accelerated.

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