Sunday, February 12, 2012


Like Mussolini, Hitler used the power of architecture to further the Third Reich, building the Olympic stadium in Berlin. This powerful venue designed by Albert Speer would hold the Olympic Games and was intended to show the world the supremacy of the master race. Many of the forced laborers died during its construction. It was the essence of totalitarian design in the service of power, fitted to stage many Nazi rituals and rallies, something Hitler loved.

International sporting event that Hitler presented to the world as a showcase for the achievements and the glories of the Nazi regime. The eleventh Olympiad, held in Berlin in 1936, had actually been awarded in 1933 to the German capital, before Hitler’s accession to power, and at first the Nazis denounced it as “a festival dominated by Jews.” But Hitler did a volte-face and decided to use the Olympics as a public relations opportunity for his regime. There was a three-week moratorium on the anti-Semitic campaign, and Richard Strauss and Carl Orff were commissioned to compose music for the occasion, while artists worked on massive illustrative paintings and statues. For the first time a relay of runners carried the Olympic flame from Greece to Germany, and from the German border all the way to Berlin the roads were lined with children waving Nazi flags, creating, for the benefit of the press, a strong impression of a happy citizenry enthusiastic for the Nazi regime. The opening ceremony provided the opportunity for Hitler to parade with 40,000 SA men while a choir of 3,000 sang Nazi songs. Although shot-putter Hans Woelke won the first gold medal of the games for Germany, subsequently public attention and adulation shifted to the black U.S. sprinter Jessie Owens, who won four gold medals, somewhat tarnishing the luster of supposed Aryan superiority.

References Bachrach, Susan D. The Nazi Olympics: Berlin 1936. New York: Little, Brown. Krüger, Arnd, William Murray, and W. J. Murray, eds. 1972. The Nazi Olympics: Sport, Politics and Appeasement in the 1930’s. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. Mandell, R. D. 1972. The Nazi Olympics. London: Souvenir Press.

No comments:

Post a Comment