The Nazi Olympics
The 1936 Olympics in Berlin, also known as the “Nazi Olympics”, was a milestone in the history of the world. All of the attention of the Olympics that year was focused on Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. In 1933, Nazi leader Adolf Hitler became leader of Germany and quickly turned the nation’s democracy into a one-party dictatorship. He took thousands of political opponents, holding them without trial in concentration camps. The Nazis also set up a program to strengthen the Germanic Aryan population. They began to exclude all one-half million Jews from the population, and German life. As part of the drive to “purify” and strengthen the German population, a 1933 law permitted physicians to perform forced
Soon after Hitler took power in 1933, questions began to arise from the United States and other Western democracies of whether or not they should support the idea of the Olympic Games hosted by the Nazi Regime. America was particularly concerned about the persecution of Jewish athletes that lived in Germany in 1933. In the United States, debate over participation in the 1936 Olympics was a hot topic. The U.S. always sent one of the largest teams to the Olympics. Groups on either side of the debate stated strong views of whether the United States should participate in the Olympics in Hitler’s Nazi Germany.
After an inspection on how the Jewish athletes were being treated, and the sports facilities in Germany, Avery Brundage, president of the American Olympic Committee, was against a boycott of the Olympics (Hoadley ’36 Olympic Hopefuls Remember Nazi Past 3). He stated that the Jews were being treated fairly at the time, and the games had to go on as planned. His rival, Judge Jeremiah Mahoney, president of the Amateur Athletic Union, pointed out that Germany had broken Olympic rules forbidding discrimination based on race and religion. In his view, participation would mean an endorsement of Hitler’s Reich (Bachrach The Nazi Olympics: Berlin 1936 23).
Brundage continued to fight to send an American team to Berlin. Many major American newspapers, including The New York Times, favored a boycott. After the