United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
The Nazi Olympics: Berlin 1936
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Against Participation
“Neither Americans nor the representatives of other countries can take part in the Games in Nazi Germany without at least acquiescing in the contempt of the Nazis for fair play and their sordid exploitation of the Games.” —Ernest Lee Jahncke, American member of the International Olympic Committee, in a letter to Count Henri Baillet-Latour, President IOC, November 25, 1935

Many of the liberal and left-wing political groups that denounced Hitler's fascist dictatorship linked their opposition to the Berlin Olympics with the wider economic boycott of Germany.

Judge Jeremiah Mahoney, president of the Amateur Athletic Union, led efforts to boycott the 1936 Olympics. Mahoney was one of a number of Catholic leaders supporting a boycott. Al Smith, governor of New York, and James Curley, governor of Massachusetts, also opposed sending a team to Berlin. The Catholic journal The Commonweal (November 8, 1935) advised boycotting an Olympics that would "set the seal of approval upon the radically anti-Christian Nazi doctrine of youth."

Ernest Lee Jahncke, a former assistant secretary of the Navy, of German Protestant descent, was expelled from the International Olympic Committee in July 1936 after taking a strong public stand against the Berlin Games. The committee pointedly elected Avery Brundage to fill Jahncke's seat. Jahncke is the only member in the committee's 100-year history to be ejected.


Jeremiah T. Mahoney, president of the Amateur Athletic Union.
Jeremiah T. Mahoney, president of the Amateur Athletic Union.
—USHMM #87521/UPI/Bettmann/CORBIS
Ernest Lee Jahncke was a former assistant secretary of the U.S. Navy, and of German Protestant descent. He was expelled from the International Olympic Committee in July 1936 after strongly opposing the Berlin Games. The committee then pointedly elected Avery Brundage to fill Jahncke's seat. Jahncke was the only member in the committee's 100-year history to be ejected.
Ernest Lee Jahncke was a former assistant secretary of the U.S. Navy, and of German Protestant descent. He was expelled from the International Olympic Committee in July 1936 after strongly opposing the Berlin Games. The committee then pointedly elected Avery Brundage to fill Jahncke's seat. Jahncke was the only member in the committee's 100-year history to be ejected.
—USHMM #88415/The Historic New Orleans Collection, New Orleans, Louisiana
<i>Fight Against War and Fascism</i> was an anti-Nazi publication of American socialists and Communists. November 1935.
Fight Against War and Fascism was an anti-Nazi publication of American socialists and Communists. November 1935.
—USHMM #14936/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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