The Summer Olympics are held in Berlin
August 1 - 16, 1936
The 11th Olympics had been handed to Berlin before the Nazis came to power. It should have symbolized a welcome to Germany and its democracy in the post World War I era. Instead it became a perfect Propaganda scenario of the Nazi party.
Germany promoted the Olympics with colorful posters and magazine spreads, flags and swastikas bedecked the monuments and houses of a festive and crowded Berlin during the games. Hitler wanted to show an image of a peaceful and tolerant Germany. Therefore Anti-Semitic posters were removed and foreign visitors were not subjected to the Nazi racial laws.
But behind the scenes the Reich Press Chamber under Joseph Goebbels’s Ministry of Propaganda exerted strict censorship over the German press, radio, film and publishing. Jewish Athlete Gretel Bergmann was denied a place on the team two weeks before the Olympics began, although she had equaled the German woman’s record in the high jump. Half-Jewish fencer Helene Mayer was the only athlete of Jewish ancestry who was allowed to represent Germany in Berlin.
Many countries discussed a boycott of the games. The United States sent a team including eighteen black athletes. African- Americans dominated the popular track and field events and many American journalists hailed the victories of Jesse Owens and other blacks as a blow to the Nazi myth of Aryan supremacy. Owens won four gold medals and was slighted by Hitler, who refused to present the medals.
L: Jessie Owens and German competitor Carl Ludwig Long.
R: German athlete Fritz Schilgen carrying the Olympic torch into the Reich Sports Field.