United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
The Nazi Olympics: Berlin 1936
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The Facade of Hospitality
In anticipation of both the Winter Olympics and the Summer Games, Hitler directed that signs stating "Jews not wanted" and similar slogans should be removed from primary traffic arteries. In some places, however, anti-Jewish signs remained visible.

In a move to "clean up" Berlin before the Olympics, the German Ministry of Interior authorized the chief of the Berlin Police to arrest all Gypsies prior to the Games. On July 16, 1936, some 800 Gypsies were arrested and interned under police guard in a special Gypsy camp in the Berlin suburb of Marzahn.

Also in preparation for the arrival of Olympic spectators, Nazi officials ordered that foreign visitors should not be subjected to the criminal strictures of the Nazi anti-homosexual laws.

During the Olympics festivities a major concentration camp, Sachsenhausen, was under construction 18 miles north of Berlin. Beginning in the fall of 1936, political opponents of the regime including liberals, socialists, and Communists, as well as several hundred Jehovah's Witnesses were imprisoned there.


<i>Der Stürmer</i> (The Stormtrooper), a rabidly anti-Jewish newspaper, was removed from news kiosks during the Games as a concession to the International Olympic Committee. But the paper was still published, using racist slurs and caricatures to malign Jews in its special Olympics issue. July 1936.
Der Stürmer (The Stormtrooper), a rabidly anti-Jewish newspaper, was removed from news kiosks during the Games as a concession to the International Olympic Committee. But the paper was still published, using racist slurs and caricatures to malign Jews in its special Olympics issue. July 1936.
—USHMM #21496/The National Library of Germany, Deutscher Bücherei Leipzig, Germany
Hitler entering the stadium with German Olympics' organizer Theodor Lewald and International Olympic Committee President Count Henri Baillet-Latour. August 1, 1936.
Hitler entering the stadium with German Olympics' organizer Theodor Lewald and International Olympic Committee President Count Henri Baillet-Latour. August 1, 1936.
—USHMM #14570A/Bundesarchiv Koblenz, Germany (inventory number 183-G00372)
Sanitary conditions were inadequate in the Marzahn camp where Gypsies were interned under a police guard before the opening of the Olympics. Marzahn was situated near a sewage dump and cemetery, and contagious diseases spread rapidly. 1936.
Sanitary conditions were inadequate in the Marzahn camp where Gypsies were interned under a police guard before the opening of the Olympics. Marzahn was situated near a sewage dump and cemetery, and contagious diseases spread rapidly. 1936.
—USHMM #86204/Landesarchiv, Berlin, Germany
Architectural plans for Sachsenhausen. 1936.
Architectural plans for Sachsenhausen. 1936.
—USHMM #26675/Fotothek der Gedenkstätte und Museum Sachsenhausen, Oranienburg, Germany

The Museum’s exhibitions are supported by the Lester Robbins and Sheila Johnson Robbins Traveling and Special Exhibitions Fund, established in 1990.

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