“With a message of peace” is how the Germans are described as welcoming the rest of the world at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. But, the constant sieg heils of the German athletes, officers, and of their Italian allies sent another message to the world. It was an intimidating opening ceremony, but a spectacular set of games, with Jessie Owens winning four gold medals. The International Olympic Committee had voted to hold the games in Berlin in 1931, two years before the Nazi party came to power. Adolf Hitler barred Jews and ethnic groups from representing Germany in the 1936 Olympics. Hitler ended up allowing one half-Jewish fencer, Helene Mayer, to participate as a concession to avoid cancellation. Few could have predicted that the next Olympics would not be held for another twelve years due to the chaos of (and recovery from) WWII. Nearly 80 years later, happily we have Olympic games which truly encourage all nationalities and creeds to participate. But, one of the best things to come from 11th Olympiad: the tradition of carrying the Olympic torch from Greece originated at these games. Have a look below.
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