The 1936 Summer Olympics was officially known as the Games of the XI Olympiad….which was an international multi-sport event held in 1936 in Berlin, Nazi Germany. Berlin won the bid to host the Games over Barcelona, Spain, on April 26, 1931, at the 29th IOC Session in Barcelona. It marked the second and final time the International Olympic Committee gathered to vote in a city that was bidding to host those Games.
To outdo the Los Angeles games of 1932, Reich Chancellor Adolf Hitler had a new 100,000-seat track and field stadium built….as well as six gymnasiums and many other smaller arenas. The games were the first to be televised….as radio broadcasts reached 41 countries. Filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl was commissioned by the German Olympic Committee to film the Games for $7 million….as her film, titled Olympia…..as the video clip seen herewith is an excerpt from….pioneered many of the techniques now common in the filming of sports.
Hitler saw the Games as an opportunity to promote his government and ideals of racial supremacy and antisemitism….as the official Nazi party paper, the Völkischer Beobachter, wrote in the strongest terms that Jews should not be allowed to participate in the Games….when German Jewish athletes were barred or prevented from taking part by a variety of methods….although some women swimmers from the Jewish sports club, Hakoah Vienna, did take part. Jewish athletes from other countries seem to have been side-lined in order not to offend the Nazi regime.
USA’s Jesse Owens won four gold medals in the sprint and long jump events….while becoming the most successful athlete to compete in Berlin….while Germany was the most successful country overall with 89 medals total….with the United States coming in second with 56 medals. These were the final Olympics under the presidency of Henri de Baillet-Latour….and the final Olympic Games for 12 years due to the disruption of the Second World War.