Berlin Games: How Hitler Stole the Olympic Dream by Guy Walters - review by Giles MacDonogh

Giles MacDonogh

Nazis and Narcissism

Berlin Games: How Hitler Stole the Olympic Dream


John Murray 344pp £20

Hitler’s abuse of the Berlin Olympics has become one of the great milestones of the 1930s and the descent into war. Everyone recalls the moment when the Aryan-supremacist Hitler was forced to watch his own athletes trounced by a mere Neger, in the person of sprinter and long-jumper Jesse Owens. But as Walters points out, in 1936 the Germans were impeccably well behaved, and were even happy to cheer him on, though their government had defined him as an Untermensch

And just as acts of violence against racial minorities are not confined to Germany today, racial intolerance was not their exclusive domain in the Thirties either. America’s black athletes may have stolen at least some of the show in 1936, but back home they had no better time of it

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