Nazi Olympics

Nazi Olympics

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The Nazi Olympics

     Theme:     Many events of The Nazi Olympics surround this sporting festival to make it one of the controversial events in sport history. Not only does Mandell cover the 1936 Olympic Games themselves but he gives insight to the history of the modern games, participation by the United States, the role of the games in the Nazi propaganda efforts and portrays heroes and key figures. Mandell wrote about the intersection of sport and politics and how world leaders set the agenda, not the athletes. The Nazi’s used the 1936 Olympic Games as a way to reinforce their political and racial goals. Although they were founded as part of a vision of world peace, the 1936 games became a stage for political disputes.     The Nazi Olympics takes an in depth look at the efforts the Germans made to show the rest of the world that they had again become a powerful nation under the leader of Adolf Hitler. The events that followed the games in Germany, mainly the Holocaust and World War II overshadowed the Berlin games. However, it is very important to note that a world gathering like the Olympics took place in a country that was in the process of eliminating an entire race of people. The games were a huge success in regards to the Nazi regime, they were able to fool the world and prove to Germany that they were a peaceful and stable nation.

     Capsule:     In 1931, the International Olympic Committee awarded the 1936 Summer Olympics to Berlin. The choice signaled Germany’s return to the world community after its isolation in the aftermath of defeat in World War I. Two years later, Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany and quickly turned the nation’s fragile democracy into a one-party dictatorship that persecuted Jews, Gypsies, and all political opponents. The Nazis’ claimed to control all aspects of German life which also extended to sports. In August 1936, the Nazi regime tried to camouflage its violent racist policies while the country hosted the Summer Olympics. Most anti-Jewish signs were temporarily removed and newspapers toned down their harsh rhetoric. Movements towards the boycott of the Nazi Olympics surfaced in the United States, Great Britain, France, Sweden, Czechoslovakia, and the Netherlands. Debate over participation in the 1936 Olympics was more intense throughout the United States, which traditionally sent one of the largest teams to the Games.
     Responding to the persecution of Jewish athletes in 1933, Avery Brundage, president of the American Olympic Committee initially considered moving the Games from Germany but he was blind and was determined to accept the invitation to Berlin.

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The AOC expressed its confidence in Brundage’s leadership and judgment, sending him to inspect Germany’s treatment of its Jewish athletes in September 1934. Following his visit, Brundage developed a fascination with Germany and his anti-Semitic tendencies and rhetoric increased. Brundage was opposed by Jeremiah T. Mahoney, the head of the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) and former New York State Supreme Court Justice who argued that sending a team to Berlin represented a tacit endorsement of the Nazi regime. Despite Mahoney’s argument that the U.S. must boycott the Games on moral principle, Brundage won the debate concerning U.S. participation. Brundage said the Germans were pursuing “the spirit of the Olympics” and declared that the Olympics should go ahead. Brundage’s was immovable in his decision that the U.S. team should go to Berlin and he demanded the resignation of all officials who were “anti-Olympic.”
     After Berlin was awarded the Olympic Games Germany cleaned up their nation and was prepared to fool the world. Germany skillfully promoted the Olympics with colorful posters and magazines.
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