Jan 30, 2010
Games Of Shame
The United States Olympic Team threatened to boycott the 1936 games in Berlin if Jews were excluded. The spotlight focused on Gretel Bergmann, German high jump champion. She was a "Volljuden", a full (both parents) Jew. After the U.S. teams departed for Berlin, but before the games began, she was stripped of her championships and excluded from their track team. Ironically, the gold metal was won by a Jew anyway, Hungarian Ibolya Csak. Gretel emigrated to United States in 1937 and held the U.S. Championship several times. In 2009, when she was 95 years old, Germany restored her name (now Margaret Lambert) to the record books.
The Nazi's made several concessions to facilitate the games, which they saw as a platform to prove Aryan superiority. The "No Jews Allowed" signs were removed from the Olympic section of Berlin. Blogger and hockey historian Rolf Oeler introduced me to the strange story of Rudi Ball, considered Europe's leading ice hockey player at the time. Apparently the hockey coach realized that Germany could not win the medal without him, so his half Jewish blood was overlooked for the winter games in Bavaria. Another half Jew participated on the German fencing team. All together ten Jews, mostly Hungarian, would win medals. Hitler, realizing that some inpure people might win, had decided before the games that he would shake no hands.
HBO Documentary: Hitler's Pawn, The Margaret Lambert Story
Berlin '36 : New German Film