The 1936 Olympics were held in Berlin, Germany under the government controlled Nazi Party (National Socialist German Workers Party). These Olympic Games offered a unique view into Germany and the Nazi movement that had taken control of the country.
In 1931 the paper work was finalized for the Olympic Games to be held in Berlin, Germany, with absolutely no idea that Adolf Hitler would take control of the country just two short years later.
By 1936, the Nazis had complete control over Germany and had already begun to create a country around Adolf Hitler’s prejudiced policies. There was actually an international debate as to whether the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany should be postponed or even boycotted.
The United States was extremely close to boycotting but at the last minute decided to accept the invitation to attend.
The Nazi’s saw the Olympic Games as a way to promote their new radical philosophies. They built a total of four incredible stadiums, a polo field, theater, swimming arena and an Olympic Village with living courtiers for athletes.
Throughout the Games, the Olympic complex was covered in Nazi banners. An extremely famous filmmaker from Germany at this time was Leni Riefenstahl. Leni actually filmed the 1936 Olympic Games in a documentary style and created a Nazi propaganda film from her recordings called Olympia.
Part of the Nazi ideology was promoting the “Aryan Race” as the superior race in humanity and what better way to promote Hitler’s Nazi’s then an international, multi-sport competition. Hitler truly believed that his athletes were superior and the Olympic Games were the perfect outlet for this.
At the end of the 1936 Olympic Games about 4,000 athletes, representing 49 different countries participated. Germany ended up winning the competition with a total of 89 medals, 33 Gold, 26 Silver and 30 Bronze.
The United States came in second place with a total of 56 medals, 24 Gold, 20 Silver and 12 Bronze. This was the first time since 1908 that the United States had failed to lead the Olympic table.
However, Jesse Owens, a black athlete from the United States, was the star of the 1936 Olympic Games. Owens, brought home four gold medals in the 100-meter dash, the long jump, where he made a world record, the 200-meter sprint around a turn, where again he made a world record and part of the team for the 400-meter relay.