Nobody could have foreseen the rise of Hitler and his Nazi party when Berlin was chosen as the site for the 1936 Summer Olympics five years earlier, but by 1933, outraged by the Nazis actions against Jews, leaders from around the globe began considering a boycott of the Games. Though individual athletes, many of them Jewish, ultimately chose not to participate, the Games did go on. Ironically, by the time the international contingent of athletes from forty-nine countries arrived in Berlin, many among them were regarded by their official hosts as “inferior” because of their race or ethnicity.
In this work, Susan Bachrach, a historian in the Exhibitions Division of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, examines the history of the 1936 Olympics and their impact on the world. She describes the steps the Nazis took to present a “facade of hospitality” to all participants but documents how they also used the competition as a propaganda tool for a racial ideology based on an Aryan ideal.
Numerous photographs, combined with the life stories of individual athletes who participated in the Games, offer an intimate history of the event in view of the destruction and atrocities that would soon follow. Bachrach devotes separate chapters to the unique challenges faced by Jewish and African-American athletes at the 1936 Olympics, and to athletes of various nationalities who were later murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust. She provides a section of full-color reproductions of Nazi posters promoting the Games and other posters protesting Nazi bigotry. The book also includes a bibliography, a chronology of significant events, and appendices listing previous sites for the Olympics and the countries that participated in the 1936 Games.
The Nazi Olympics: Berlin 1936 is based on a special exhibition by the same name which opened at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in July 1996 and is currently being shown at various venues as part of the Museum’s traveling exhibition program.
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|TABLE OF CONTENTS|
|Prelude: Berlin Is Chosen to Host the 1936 Olympics|
|1933-1936: NAZI GERMANY|
|Hitler Comes to Power|
|The Police State|
|Nazi Racism and Antisemitism|
|THE NAZIFICATION OF GERMAN SPORT|
|The Nazi Takeover of the Olympics|
|The Persecution of Jewish Athletes|
|THE BOYCOTT DEBATE|
|Should the Games Go On?|
|Support for a Boycott|
|African American Voices|
|American Jewish Voices|
|THE NAZI OLYMPICS|
|A Perfect Arena for the Nazi Propaganda Machine|
|The Winter Games: Rehearsal for Berlin|
|The Remilitarization of the Rhineland|
|Nazi Propaganda and the Summer Olympics|
|Berlin: The Facade of Hospitality|
|The Opening of the Games|
|African American Successes|
|Jewish Athletes and the Games|
|The War and the Holocaust|
|Suggestions for Further Reading|