Hitler’s Olympics

Posted on 24th July 2012 by simonbeattie

These rather wonderful Olympia-Hefte were obviously conceived by Goebbels as a means of getting the German public behind the 1936 Berlin Games.  But they also serve to explain the history of various sports.  Parts 2–24 cover skiing, bobsleigh and ice hockey, ice skating, football, handball, hockey, running, pentathlon and decathlon, jumping, throwing, boxing, weightlifting and wrestling, fencing, shooting, riding, gymnastics, swimming, water polo and diving, canoeing and rowing, sailing, cycling, and gliding.  Part 1, after a brief history of the Games, illustrates the facilities awaiting competitors in Berlin; part 25 stresses the importance of exercise for everyone, and 26 is a potted guide to the different sports, with a glossary of terms.

The presentation itself is attractive, with hints of Leni Riefenstahl and Aleksandr Rodchenko.  Any feeling of smug self-confidence, however, was soon exploded by Jesse Owens’ four gold medals.

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