A. Plan of Investigation
This investigation assesses the effect of the 1936 Berlin Olympics on the Nazi’s persecution of the Jews and the road to World War II. Hitler used the 1936 Olympics as a major source of propaganda, and wanted to show the world that Germany was a successful country with a rising economy. This investigation will look at how he used the Games to further his cause and how successful he was in achieving these goals. Originally inspired by the book The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel Brown, this investigation will also use other books about the 1936 Olympics, such as The Nazi Olympics and Nazi Games, as well as scholarly journal articles.
B. Summary of Evidence
Berlin was chosen as the site of the 1936 Olympics in 1931, five years before the actual event, and two years before Adolf Hitler came to power (Bachrach 9). World War I had caused the 1916 Olympics in Berlin to be canceled (Bachrach 11), and Germany was not invited back to the Olympics after World War I until 1928 (Bachrach 12). Hitler and the Nazis started gaining power in the 1930s (Bachrach 16), with their ultimate goal to create one big German community composed of Germany and German-speaking people in surrounding countries, and conquer eastern countries to “gain more land for this united Germanic population…” (Bachrach 17). The Nazi’s persecution began with opponents of Hitler, who they arrested and put in prison or concentration camps (Bachrach 18). This persecution extended to other races as well, mainly Jews (“Hitler”). Hitler’s “purification” of the German race encompassed every part of the culture, including sports. Jews were excluded from participating on the German team, destroying many athlete’s careers (Streissguth 38). The United States discussed boycotting the Olympics, ultimately deciding not to (Potts). However many individual athletes chose to boycott the German Olympics in protest (Bachrach 61).
Hitler used these Olympics as a major propaganda event for the Nazis and Germany. Joseph Goebbels, a dedicated Nazi, became Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda, and “built a machinery of thought control” (“Joseph”). Goebbels “strictly censored the German press, radio, and film industries” (Bachrach 83) so that everyone saw and heard exactly what he wanted them to. Leni Riefenstahl, a talented filmmaker, was sponsored by Hitler to produce a two part documentary of the Olympics called Olympia, which was widely viewed and adored (“Leni”). Soon after the Olympics ended, Hitler decided that “within four years’ time Germany must be militarily and economically ready for war” (Large 316). However, at this time and for the next few years the IOC, the International Olympic Committee, lauded the Berlin Olympics and Nazi Germany as “a great steward of Olympic ideals” (Large 317). Riefenstahl’s film won first place at the 1938 Venice Film Festival (Bachrach). During this time, the Nazis resumed their anti-Jewish campaign, and in 1938, the Nazis invaded...