Jesse Owens Beat the Nazis at their Own Game

The Olympics have always been about more than sports.  Never was this more true than in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.  By 1936, Hitler had already put into practice racial policies.  He used the Olympics in order to legitimize his regime and show off the power of Germany.  The Germans did not allow “non-Aryans” to participate in the German Olympic team, but were forced to allow Jewish and black players from other countries to participate.  Although the United States briefly considered boycotting the event, the American Olympic Committee preferred to support its athletes at the expense of missing an opportunity to make a political statement against Germany.

Eighteen African-Americans participated in the Olympics as part of the American team, and won 14 medals.  Jesse Owens won four gold medals.  In the long jump he broke an Olympic record when he leaped 26 feet 5-1/2 inches.  He was crowned “the fastest human being,” making him the hero of the Olympics.

Thirteen medals at the Berlin Olympics were won by Jewish athletes.

After the Games Hitler declared, “In 1940 the Olympic Games will take place in Tokyo. But thereafter they will take place in Germany for all time to come, in this stadium.”  The tremendous success of the German athletes impressed the international community, as well as the ceremony and precision with which the Olympics were held.

Although Jewish and black athletes’ successes disproved  the theory of Aryan supremacy, Hitler succeeded in his propaganda campaign and continued his racist policies unchecked.

More information on the 1936 Nazi Olympics is available at the website of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

This blog post is part the Problogger Group Writing Project.

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4 Comments on “Jesse Owens Beat the Nazis at their Own Game”

  1. Navi Says:

    I’ve read this story long time back. I think some athlete of Germany helped Jessie Owens to win the gold medal.

  2. avasemerau Says:

    Interesting and timely topic, tho eventually Hitler and his “evil plan” were stopped and his racist policies checked. Thank God. Thanks for the info.

    Ava Semerau
    And God Was Please: Principles for Creating Christian Success


  3. Yout title was among the best in the contest.
    Putting ‘How’ in front would make it even better, I think.

  4. Hadassah Says:

    Chris – Thanks so much. And darn, you’re right!


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