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The "Ebony Antelope" Gallops Of Aryan Superiority

2337 words - 9 pages

Berlin was the heart of Weimar Germany, and it was renowned for being a “happy and clean city” (Large 255.) On May 13 of 1931, The IOC (International Olympic Committee) awarded the 1936 Summer Games to Berlin. This was Germany’s return into the world after their defeat in World War I. In 1934, Adolf Hitler became the Fürher of Germany and ruled until 1945. The epicenter of Germany was being torn apart by Hitler’s adamant Anti-Semitic crusade. Thus, this led to a decrease in Berlin’s economical and intellectual sustenance due to the fact that the Jewish population accounted for the majority of it. Fights and public disputes were a daily occurrence in the streets of Berlin. On New Year’s Eve of 1933, a passerby on a bicycle shot a seamstress to death and shouted, “Heil Hitler!” before riding off. The “happy” city of Berlin was in great turmoil. By the beginning of 1935, Weimar Berlin had dug itself in a mile-deep hole filled with “cultural corruption and political disorientation” (Large 255). In 1933, the American Amateur Athletic Union was denied a boycott to have the 1936 Games moved to Rome or Tokyo. This boycott was later deemed “futile”, for the Germans revoked the ban on Jewish athletes participating in the Games soon after. Joseph Goebbles, the Reich Minister of Nazi Propaganda, and the rest of the Nazi regime was infuriated with Jewish athletes permitted to participate because mass numbers of Jews flowed in from surrounding provinces. Their infuriation was kept at bay for the sake of image for the coming Games. As the Eleventh Olympiad progressed in August of 1936, one athlete in particular thwarted the Nazi racial ideology of Aryan superiority. Jesse Owens, a black American athlete, won four gold medals and set numerous world records in less than a three-day period. As German spectators relished in the success of Owens and welcomed him, the Nazi regime completely ignored him.
Jesse Owens, the son of sharecroppers, was born in Danville, Alabama on September 12,1913. His debut in track and field was in May of 1935 at the Big Ten Championships in California. The next year, Owens managed to capture three individual gold medals in the long jump, 100 meters, 200 meters, and a USA team gold in the 4x100 meter relay (Aaseng 12). This display of unbelievable athleticism made a mockery of the Nazi’s racial superiority ideology. Owens would later be known as the “hero of Berlin” (Wallenchinsky 50).
Germans who attended or watched the 1936 Games adored Jesse Owens and placed him upon a pedestal as the “hero of Berlin”. Prior to the Berlin Games, the Reichstag (the German Empire) adopted the Nuremburg Laws in November of 1935 (Rippon 132). These laws legally persecuted Jews in Germany, and excluded many athletes from participating in the Olympics (such as Gypsies, Romas, and other ethnicities that were viewed as inferior by the Nazis). Nazi radicals demanded Hitler to increase Jewish persecution as the Olympics drew near (the Nuremburg Laws laid the...

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