Stupid old Hitler thought he had the formula for the perfect race.Ã‚Â He considered skin color to be one of the important factors in building the perfect race.Ã‚Â Then came the 1936 Olympics, where Jesse Owens went on to win or be on the team that won 4 gold medals, the 4th coming on this date in 1936.Ã‚Â This showed Hitler that either he was wrong about skin color being an important part of the perfect race, or that he’d selected the wrong skin color.
In 1931, the International Olympic Committee awarded the 1936 Summer Olympics to Berlin. The choice was meant to signal Germany’s return to the world community after defeat in World War I. Two years later, however, Adolf Hitler came to power. He transformed the democratic German government into a one-party dictatorship, purged political opponents and suspected dissidents, instituted anti-Semitic policies, and began the remilitarization of Germany.
Hitler initially held the Olympics in low regard because of their internationalism but became an avid supporter after Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels convinced him of their propaganda value.
Seen as an opportunity to advance Nazi ideology, Hitler provided extensive funding for the Berlin Games, which promised to be the largest modern Olympics to date. The Nazi government used sport as part of its drive to strengthen the “Aryan race,” and “Non-Aryans”–Jewish, part-Jewish, or Gypsy athletes–were systematically excluded from Nazi-sponsored sports facilities and associations.
. . .
On August 1, 1936, Adolf Hitler opened the XIth Olympiad. The Olympic ritual of a runner arriving bearing a torch carried by relay from Olympia, Greece, occurred for the first time. The Nazis advertised this ceremony as a symbol of the myth that German civilization was the inheritor of the glorified culture of ancient Greece.
. . .
With 348 athletes, Germany had the largest national team and captured the most medals overall, greatly pleasing Hitler. The Americans, however, dominated the popular track-and-field events. On the first day of competition, Hitler, who had been congratulating German and select other winners, left the stadium shortly after three African Americans swept the high-jump event. Whether Hitler left to avoid shaking hands with non-Aryans is unclear. In the aftermath of the incident, Olympic organizers asked Hitler to either receive all the medal winners or none, and he chose the latter. Contrary to the popular myth, Hitler never directly snubbed Jesse Owens, but he did continue to privately receive German winners throughout the Games.
With his four gold medals, Jesse Owens was the star of the Berlin Olympics. He equaled the world record (10.3 seconds) in the 100-meter race and broke the world records in the 200-meter race (20.7 seconds) and in the broad jump (26 feet 5 3/8 inches). He was enthusiastically applauded by the largely German crowd and developed a friendship with German long jumper and silver medalist Luz Long. However, he and other African American Olympians were demeaned by a Nazi newspaper that wrote of them as the “black auxiliaries” of the American team.
More of the interesting details available on The History Channel’s today in history general interest page.
[tags]Today in History, Jesse Owens, Hitler gets pwnz0red[/tags]