1936 Olympics

Discussions on the propaganda, architecture and culture in the Third Reich.
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Postby Landser » 06 Feb 2004 09:04

Jesse Owens: Myth and Reality
By Mark Weber.

Jesse Owens, the Black track and field star who won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, died in 1980 at the age of 66. As so often during his lifetime, even this occasion was used by the major television networks and print media to spread slanderous falsehoods which have acquired wide acceptance through repetition over the years. With the naming of a Berlin street after Owens in March 1984, yet another opportunity was afforded for the fanfarish media dissemination of outrageous myths. Particularly idiotic and despicable was the report on NBC Nightly News of Sunday, 4 March.
The myths, which are usually asserted as fact, contend that German Chancellor Adolf Hitler was furious when Owens won; that Hitler refused to shake hands with Owens because he was Black; that the Germans were embarrassed because the Owens victory "disproved" German ideas about racial differences, and so on.
Actually, Owens was acclaimed by the Berliners as enthusiastically as any German. Owens himself said that on one occasion, while in the stadium, he caught sight of Hitler: "When I passed the Chancellor, he arose, waved his hand at me, and I waved back at him."
As for the alleged snubbing, the facts of the matter tell a story which is quite different than the one usually heard. Hitler was in his box on the first day of competition when Hans Woellke broke the Olympic record for the shot-put and, incidentally, became the first German to win an Olympic track and field championship. At Hitler's request, Woellke and the third place winner, another German, were lead to the box to receive personal congratulations from the Chancellor. Soon afterward Hitler personally greeted three Finns who won medals in the l0,000-meter run. Then he congratulated two German women who won first and second place in the women's javelin throw. The only other scheduled event that day was the high jump, which was running late. When all the German high-jumpers were eliminated, Hitler left the stadium in the dark as rain threatened and was not present to greet the three winners - all from the United States, and two of whom were Black.
Hitler left because it was late, not because he wanted to avoid greeting anyone. Besides, at the time he left Hitler could not know whether the final winners would be Black or White.
Count Baillet-Latour, president of the International Olympic Commission, sent word to the German leader that, as a guest of honor at the Games, he should congratulate all or none. So when Jesse Owens won the final of the 100 meters the next day, he was not publicly greeted by Hitler - nor were any other medal winners of that or any of the following events.
Any notion that the Germans were "embarrassed" because of victories by non-Whites at the Berlin Games is ridiculous. Jesse Owens is very prominently featured in Olympia, the official German documentary of the Games. Leni Riefenstahl's film masterwork also devotes great attention to many other non-Whites, including outstanding Japanese athletes. The same holds true in the deluxe, semi-official German picture book commemorating the Games, Die Olympischen Spiele 1936, released by the Cigaretten-Bilderdienst. Jesse Owens is pictured seven times in this book - more than any other athlete - and is admiringly referred to as "the fastest in the world." A large picture in the book records the chiseling of the victors' names in granite at the stadium - and singled out in this picture is: "Owens U.S.A."
Despite the remarkable achievements of Jesse Owens, and of other athletes of all races, Germany did capture more gold medals than any other nation, thus "winning" the Olympics - a fact usually ignored in discussions of the 1936 Games.
In a letter of 14 March 1984 to the Director of West German ZDF television, former German athlete Waither Tripps protested the false report by a West German television network news announcer that Adolf Hitler did not publicly greet Owens because Owens was a Negro. Tripps was himself an outstanding relay runner at the 1936 Games. After sending his letter, Tripps further stated verbally that following the Games, Hitler invited all Olympic winners, including Owens, to a reception at the Reich Chancellory. Hitler personally congratulated and shook the hand of each winner, including Owens, who later confirmed this on several occasions. Following is the text of Tripps's letter:
To the Director of the
ZDF [Second German Television]
Re: "Heute" ["Today"] news broadcast of 10 March 1984
As part of his report on the unveiling of the "Jesse-Owens-Allee" street sign in front of the Berlin Olympic Stadium, your announcer made an absolutely untrue statement. He repeated the stupid lie that in 1936 Adolf Hitler refused to meet the incomparable, four-time Olympic winner Jesse Owens because of his skin color and Negro ancestry. It seems that the announcer sought to clearly emphasize the so-called race hatred indoctrination.
This story is not just a fairy tale. It is a wretched lie. Today the truth is suppressed for presumably political reasons. But it will not die. There are too many contemporary witnesses. I am one of them.
In fact, Adolf Hitler received and congratulated the German Olympic winners of the 1936 Games in the place of honor at the Olympic stadium. The 800,000 daily spectators, including many foreign visitors, enthusiastically applauded this. Dr. Gisela Mauermayer (now living in Munich), Tilly Fleischer-Grothe (now living in Lahr), Gerhard Stoeck (now living in Hamburg) and others were among those personally honored.
It was also arranged to honor the outstanding and unforgettable Jesse Owens in this way as well. But at this point the President of the International Olympic Committee, Count Baillet-Latour, stopped Hitler's plan by pointing out that this practice conflicted with the Committee rules. The Count, however, had no objection to holding this kind of congratulatory reception in the Reich Chancellory.
Dr. Karl Ritter von Halt, then President of the German National Olympic Committee and head of the German athletic association, later confirmed these facts at a meeting of the former members of the German team. I was one of those present at this meeting in Stuttgart with the unforgettable Ritter von Halt, which took place shortly after his release from the Soviet-run Sachsenhausen concentration camp. (Among others, actor Heinrich George and Reich Trainer - Dr. Nerz died there!) Also present were Borchmeyer (competitor in the final race against Owens, now living in Frankfurt), Blask, Hem. Tilly Fleischer, Dr. Gisela Mauermayer, Dr. Metzner, Hornberger, Stoeck, Syring, Dessecker, and many others. They are contemporary witnesses for fairness and truth.
The facts will be published in the magazine of the "Former German Winners' Sports Club." As National Olympic Committee President Daume rightly stated during the ceremony in Berlin, honor belongs to those who deserve it. Microphone personalities who spread lies do not belong on the television screen!
Walther Tripps
To his credit, Jesse Owens himself never contributed to the myth-making. He repeatedly stressed the warmth of his reception in Germany and his happiness during those days in Berlin. But he couldn't prevent others from using him as a symbol, in life as well as in death, to slander Germany for motives of their own.
- Mark Weber

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Postby JLEES » 06 Feb 2004 12:14

Everything you said is correct in your last message, but what was stated in your previous one is being questioned. When you commented, “even the propaganda phase is copied and even more expanded especially in socalled "culturally superior" countries. Remember Salt Lake and nothing but Stars and Stripes everywhere? Talking about racism and Jesse Owens, even he acknowledged to be treated as a human Being instead as a "Nigger" all his life before that. He was surprised to be able to sit with the "Masterrace" for once on the same table and not being arrested. Not even thinking of using separate bathrooms.” While this is also corrected if one knew nothing about the Third Reich one could infer racial minorities were treated better there then in the USA and that the same level of nationalistic pride found at the later USA Olympic Games were also found in Nazi Germany during Hitler’s rule. Both of these assumptions would be grossly incorrect. Yes there was racism in the USA against black, yes there is nationalistic pride in other countries, but no we shouldn’t jump to wild conclusions about these facts and try to whitewash something like a conservative “ditto head” (the extreme opposite of PC) would.

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Berlin Olympic Games 1936

Postby don1 » 06 Feb 2004 12:36

Despite obvious internal problems and severe racism at that time, the German organisation of the 1936 Games should be praised. They re-introduced the carrying of the Olympic flame from Greece to the Berlin stadium.

In addition they built accomodation for the athletes, warm-up areas, medical treatment rooms and arranged transport to the arena. They also set up superb press facilities with the first-ever live radio and television coverage. They also introduced a host of new initiatives that are still being used today. They set the blueprint for how the Games should be organised and promoted.

I also understand they invented and tested the photo finish to determine the real winners.

All this seemed a vast improvement on the mediocre 1928 Amsterdam and 1932 Los Angeles Olympics - which almost brought the event to a close and attracted limited interest from both athletes and world spectators.

Although the German Olympic committee had made preparations for the Berlin Games long before Hitler and the Nazi Party came to power, Joseph Goebbells and some of his hand picked propaganda team worked hard to bring the oxygen of publicity to the German ideal.

They had a very useful dry run so to speak on the Winter Olympics where Hitler and Goebbels were prominent at the prizegiving ceremony.

People certainly, might not have agreed with their political developments and the rapid build up to war, but most athletes and certainly much of the world's press credited the Games at the time as being the 'best ever.'

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Re: Olympics

Postby Fubbik » 24 Aug 2004 15:07

JLEES wrote:. I didn't know the Nazis treated racial minorities with such kindness while the USA treatment of them was so bad.

You must be aware of the way the negroes were treated in the US. True, they didn´t end up in KZ´s, but it happened that they met with judge Lynch.

Hitler wasn´t keen on sports. He only visited the games to see Germans win, but he didn´t bring them any luck. The women relay team, thought to be sure winners, dropped their staff and were disqualified. He came to see Germany beat Norway at soccer - a push-over - but saw them lose 2 - 0.

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Re: Olympics

Postby Knut Hamsun » 25 Aug 2004 13:24

thanks for your posting, but I didn`t understand what you would like to express!
You must be aware of the way the negroes were treated in the US. True, they didn´t end up in KZ´s, but it happened that they met with judge Lynch.

At first! In the USA they don`t need any KZ because the negroes were slaves, punished and killed like animals. And also think about the fate of the indians they were killed and the few that survived were forced in so called reservation.

Hitler wasn´t keen on sports. He only visited the games to see Germans win, but he didn´t bring them any luck. The women relay team, thought to be sure winners, dropped their staff and were disqualified. He came to see Germany beat Norway at soccer - a push-over - but saw them lose 2 - 0.

What is the conclusion from your lines? Would you like to say that Hitler has any influence in the results of sports. That`s really nice-stop kiding.
Regards Knut

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Postby Fubbik » 25 Aug 2004 16:25

Knut me lad, we (at least Jesse Owens and I) are talkng about 1936, when the negroes were no longer slaves, but second class citizens.

The other item is just an anecdote. I don´t think Hitler could influence what happened on the track or field any more than I can influence the weather on my vacation. You´ll probably wonder what I mean by that.

Had I known about you I would have chosen as nome-de-guerre Övre Richter Frisch. You´ll probably wonder what I mean by that too.

Have a nice day, Knut, if you can allow yourself one.

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Postby Roderick » 26 Aug 2004 00:21

Here's Medals Table (10 best) of 1936 Olympic Games:


1 - Germany: 33/26/30
2 - USA: 24/20/12
3 - Hungary: 10/1/5
4 - Italy: 8/9/5
5 - Finland: 7/6/6
5 - France: 7/6/6
6 - Sweden: 6/5/9
7 - Japan: 6/4/8
8 - Holland: 6/4/7
9 - Great Britain: 4/7/3


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Knut Hamsun
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Postby Knut Hamsun » 26 Aug 2004 08:41

Ahoi Fubbik,
I was deeply impressed by your intelligence and wisdom so that I can reply only so late. You are right I don`t know „Richter Frisch“ and it`s considerable that you don`t think that Hitler could influence sports or weather. Witout words ... Please let me take part at your knowledge where did you find: „Hitler wasn´t keen on sports. He only visited the games to see Germans win“. It would be interesting to find out the source of this. Maybe you could help me. I think that nearly every sportsman is lucky to see his nation winning medalls. Only you should be angry when german sportsmen win. But that your problem.
Back to the item I will send a scan of an original postcard with some autographs from sportsmen that take part at the olympics in 1936 to reconcile with you.
And now I will have another nice day without your permission.
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Postby Fubbik » 26 Aug 2004 13:24

Knutsi Frutsi,

I don´t think a post from you could be late enough. I never said anything against German athletes. As you call yourself Knut Hamsun, I thought that you had som Norwegian connection. As you apparently don´t, the Övre Richter Frisch bit is out of place.

If this is a nice day, how are your bad ones? That postcard was interesting though.

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Desert Foxas
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Postby Desert Foxas » 02 Jan 2006 22:10

I hope I'm in the right thread.. Where could I find some information about Berlins Olypics chronology? I tried google - no luck. Could someone help me?
Thanks in advance.


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