The 1936 Olympic Games is a confusing study. The most hospitable and dramatic Games up to that point were hosted by one of the cruelest regimes in history. Awarded to Germany in 1931, the Games of the XI Olympiad became a propaganda spectacle for the NSDAP. With the full financial and organizing force of the NSDAP government behind the planning, the 1936 Games transformed the Olympics from an underfunded amateur competition into a spectacle that nations could look toward for both an economic and public relations boost.

    German Olympic Committee officials Carl Diem and Theodor Lewald undertook the massive responsibility of planning Games that would outdo the 1932 Games in Los Angeles and meet the NSDAP standard for large, organized events. During the preparations, the NSDAP removed Lewald, who had Jewish ancestry, from his official post as Olympic Committee President and demoted him to advisor. Despite the change, the remaining members of the German Olympic Committee were determined to outdo all previous Olympic hosts in size, accommodations, and pageantry.

    One of the most defining innovations of the 1936 Olympics was the

    Olympic Torch Relay. Never before in either the ancient or modern Olympics had a torch been lit in Athens and carried to the Games. With cooperation from Greece and every nation along the route, the first Olympic torch arrived in Berlin for the opening of the Games via a young male runner chosen by AH himself for embodying the Aryan ideal. The Games were also the first to be televised with closed circuit feeds present throughout the Olympic Village. Acclaimed filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl revolutionized sport documentaries with Olympia.

    The Games are also famous for the accomplishments of American sprinter Jesse Owens. Owens, an African American, won four gold medals in the Track and Field events, prompting spectators around the world to declare that he disproved AH’s notions of Aryan superiority. Reporters at the time declared that AH had snubbed Owens by refusing to shake his hand. The previous day, AH had been warned about acknowledging athletes publicly. The president of the International Olympic Committee informed AH that he could not publicly congratulate only German winners. He must acknowledge all winners or none. AH, not wanting to cause a very visible international incident at the Games, decided to remain a spectator while in public view. Behind the scenes, however, he would congratulate all German medal winners.

    Leading up to the Games, newspapers around the world had printed stories of the harsh treatment of Jews in Germany, and many attendees expected the worst. However, the picture of Germany seen by athletes and spectators was one of hospitality, order, and patriotism. In order to project the image a progressive, orderly nation, the NSDAP ordered the removal of all public anti-Semitic signs and publications. The open persecution of Jewish citizens was effectively put on hold in all areas that could be accessible to outsiders. Some reporters and Olympic officials hoped that this signaled a softer approach to racial issues in Germany, but it was short lived. Members of the International Olympic Committee were confident that hosting the Games had positively influenced Germany and would make them more cooperative in international affairs. After the Olympics ended, the NSDAP were even more emboldened and took further steps to marginalize and persecute Jews, political dissenters, and other “undesirables.” In fact, AH was planning to make the Olympics his own, permanently stage the Games in Nuremburg beginning in 1944.

    Issued to all participants in the 1936 Olympics which was held in Berlin.

    Item Description

    Medal and ribbon is in excellent condition.