2004 — The 1936 Olympic Dreams in Berlin, Germany
March 31 – June 11
“German Sport has only one task: to strengthen the character of the German people, imbuing it with the fighting spirit of steadfast camaraderie necessary in the struggle for its existence.”
The XI Olympic Games started on May 26, 1930, when the German Olympic Committee met with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to apply for Berlin, Germany to be the host city of the 1936 Olympics. The vote by the IOC was in favor of the German proposal 43:16. The IOC selected Berlin as the host city because the German Olympic Council had presented many great reasons to hold the Olympics in Germany, including the fact that Berlin was the heart of Europe, making it the most accessible and central place for the games to be held. With the majority vote for the Berlin Olympics, much pride was restored to Germany, and a sense of reacceptance into the global community of nations was established.
As the German Olympic Committee prepared for the Olympic Games, a new power was rising in Germany. The Nazi Party, lead by Adolph Hitler, became the fastest growing party in Germany. By 1933 Adolph Hitler was the new Chancellor of Germany. Hitler had a different vision for the 1936 Olympics. He wanted the Olympics to become a spectacle to the world about the power and strength of German people and the Aryan race. To Adolph Hitler and the Nazi Party the Olympics would demonstrate to the rest of the world, the Nazi doctrine.
When the construction for the Olympic Grounds began, Hitler commanded the architects to create a facility that put so much emphasis on grandeur, style and pride, that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) would forever hold the Olympics in Berlin. Hitler succeeded in creating an awesome Olympic Grounds; many of the participating athletes described their surroundings as “a garden of paradise.”
Olympic Village and Sport Facilities
– The Olympic Grounds was 325 acres in area
– Reichssportfeld Stadium accommodated 110,000 viewers
– 140 houses for 51 Nations
– Each house was named after a German city, and the décor inside reflected the namesake city
– Movie theatre
– Shopping mall
– Well staffed sports medicine facility
– Back-wood walking trails
– Recreational swimming areas
– Squirrels, Swans, and Storks and other animals imported to the Olympic Grounds for scenic pleasure
– Several dining facilities that accommodated all 51 nation’s appetites
As the world prepared for the 1936 Olympics, participating nations, (including the United States, France, and Great Britain) were growing aware of the growing persecution that was taking place under the Nazi Party. Many nations could not support the Olympic Games in Germany under the anti-Semitic laws being created. Nations feared for the safety of their athletes, and feared that participating in the Olympics would be supporting the Nazi Party and its doctrine.
Both the United States and Great Britain took a long time to respond to the German Olympic Committee. The decision to participate was made after several inquiries by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) into the Olympic Games. A number of guarantees were made by
the German Olympic Committee to the IOC and the participating nations that all athletes were welcomed to participate. Including German citizens of the Jewish faith were also guaranteed to participate on the German Olympic team, however nearly all were excluded.
Nazi Rule 1933 -1936
February 28, 1933: Suspension of freedoms of Speech, assembly, press and other basic rights
March 20, 1933:First concentration camp opens in Dachau
April 7, 1933: Jews excluded from government employment, including teaching positions
October 1934: First major wave of arrests against homosexuals and Jews
September 15, 1935: Anti-Jewish racial and citizenship laws issued
American Olympic Water Polo Team
Summer Olympics XI, Berlin, Germany
The tryouts for the Olympic Water Polo Team took place July 3rd – 5th, 1936 at Burnham Park, Chicago, Illinois. Eight teams from the United States entered into the competition with the most likely to win being the team from the Los Angeles Athletic Club (L.A.A.C.) who represented the United States in the Los Angeles games of 1932. The final competition was between the L.A.A.C. and the New York Athletic Club.
The final game ended with a win by L.A.A.C.
by a score of 3 to 1. The L.A.A.C. was excited once again to represent their country at the Berlin, Olympics. The team had a good showing at the Olympic Games, placing 3rd in their bracket and 9th overall. The Gold, Silver and Bronze medals were taken home by Hungary (Gold), Germany (Silver) and Belgium (Bronze).
Message from the Curator:
The idea for this exhibit was presented to me at the end of fall term 2004, by Jerrie Lee Parpart the exhibits coordinator at the Hamersly Library. She approached me about doing a practicum revolving around the 1936 Olympics. She told me that she had received from Allen Risen, a WOU faculty member, memorabilia from the 1936 Olympic games, which his grandfather had participated in. As a historian myself, I could not pass up the offer to work with these unique artifacts and to better my knowledge about the Olympic games. Immediately after I began my research and my analyzing of the artifacts, I was enthusiastic about this practicum. The practicum itself consisted of several areas, a exhibit at the Hamersly Library at Western Oregon University, as well as a paper, a presentation to Dr. Doellinger’s Modern Germany class, and this website. Overall the experience was great, and it was such a fun project to end my college career with. I hope that others at WOU and community members come to the exhibit and take away with them a lot of the same things I did; appreciation of our Olympic athletes, amazement of what was occurring in Germany, and pride to be an American.
This exhibit would not be possible with out the materials that Phil Daubenspeck, a 1932 and 1936 Olympian, brought back from his experiences. We are lucky to have Mr. Daubenspeck’s grandson as a staff member at WOU. We would like to thank Allen Risen and his family for graciously loaning many of the items on display in this exhibit, and appreciate them sharing such a great a valuable resource.
LOCATION: 1st floor main lobby
Curator: Heath Wellman, WOU Archives student