Wednesday, February 18, 2009


In 1937, Hitler inspected architect Albert Speer's design for a stadium at Nuremberg that would host the Olympics for all time. Speer's model for a colossal, 400,000-seat stadium satisfied the Führer's infatuation with monumental forms as a means of projecting German supremacy.

The SS founded Natzweiler near rare red granite quarries in order to supply stone desired by Albert Speer for this monumental building. The quarries were chosen despite the fact that they were known to be unprofitable and abandoned by private business. The stadium was to hold over 400,000 visitors and thus be the “largest in the world.”

After the Games

“I'm afraid the Nazis have succeeded with their propaganda. First, the Nazis have run the Games on a lavish scale never before experienced, and this has appealed to the athletes. Second, the Nazis have put up a very good front for the general visitors, especially the big businessmen.” —Foreign correspondent William Shirer in his diary, Berlin, August 16, 1936

"In 1940 the Olympic Games will take place in Tokyo. But thereafter they will take place in Germany for all time to come, in this stadium." Adolf Hitler, in conversation with Albert Speer, general architectural inspector for the Reich, spring 1937

Germany emerged victorious from the XIth Olympiad. Its athletes captured the most medals overall, and German hospitality and organization won the praises of visitors. Most newspaper accounts echoed a report in the New York Times that the Games put Germans "back in the fold of nations," and even made them "more human again." Some even found reason to hope that this peaceable interlude would endure. Only a few reporters, such as William Shirer, regarded the Berlin glitter as merely hiding a racist, militaristic regime. As the post-Games reports were filed, Hitler pressed on with grandiose plans for German expansion. These included taking over the Olympics forever.


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