United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
The Nazi Olympics: Berlin 1936
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The Facade of Hospitality
In August 1936 Olympic flags and swastikas bedecked the monuments and houses of a festive, crowded Berlin. Most tourists were unaware that the Nazi regime had temporarily removed anti-Jewish signs. An unpublicized police "clean up" also swept Gypsies off the streets and interned them in a camp at the edge of Berlin.

The Reich Press Chamber under Joseph Goebbels's Ministry of Propaganda exerted strict censorship over the German press, radio, film, and publishing. The Chamber issued numerous directives regarding coverage of the Olympic Games, limiting the scope and content of reporting by German journalists.

"German newspapers will print -- at their own risk -- reports from the Olympics released prior to the official press report." July 22, 1936

"Press coverage should not mention that there are two non-Aryans among the women: Helene Mayer (fencing) and Gretel Bergmann (high jump and all-around track and field competition)." July 16, 1936

"The racial point of view should not be used in any way in reporting sports results; above all Negroes should not be insensitively reported. ...Negroes are American citizens and must be treated with respect as Americans." August 3, 1936

"No comments should be made regarding Helene Mayer's non-Aryan ancestry or her expectations for a gold medal at the Olympics." February 19, 1936


The main boulevard in Berlin is decorated with Nazi banners in preparation for the Olympics. July- August 1936.
The main boulevard in Berlin is decorated with Nazi banners in preparation for the Olympics. July- August 1936.
—USHMM #21757/Ullstein Bilderdienst, Berlin, Germany
An insert for the Bremen Sunday newspaper shows scenes of several cities as they prepared for the Summer Games. 1936.
An insert for the Bremen Sunday newspaper shows scenes of several cities as they prepared for the Summer Games. 1936.
—USHMM #14920/Courtesy of John Loaring

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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