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History of the Olympics

1936 - Berlin, Germany

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Olympics 1936 Berlin, Germany Olympics 1936
Culture Club/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany

The IOC had awarded the Games to Berlin in 1931 with no idea that Adolf Hitler was to take power in Germany two years later. By 1936, the Nazis had control over Germany and had already begun to implement their racist policies. There was international debate as to whether the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany should be boycotted. The United States was extremely close to boycotting but at the last minute decided to accept the invitation to attend.

The Nazis saw the event as a way to promote their ideology. They built four grandiose stadiums, swimming pools, an outdoor theater, a polo field, and an Olympic Village that had 150 cottages for the male athletes. Throughout the Games, the Olympic complex was covered in Nazi banners. Leni Riefenstahl, a famous Nazi propaganda filmaker, filmed these Olympic Games and made them into her movie Olympia.

These Games were the first ones televised and were the first to use telex transmissions of the results. Also debuting at these Olympics was the torch relay.

Jesse Owens, a black athlete from the United States, was the star of the 1936 Olympic Games. Owens, the "Tan Cyclone," brought home four gold medals: the 100-meter dash, the long jump (made an Olympic record), the 200-meter sprint around a turn (made a world record), and part of the team for the 400-meter relay.

About 4,000 athletes participated, representing 49 countries.

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