The Iconic Status of the Olympics Around the World

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The Olympics are one of the most interesting, historic events of all time. Although in 1936, the Olympics brought discrimination, racism, and much more from Germany’s supreme ruler, Adolf Hitler. Yet through this discrimination, athletes and competitors battled Hitler’s race theory as they competed for victory in the Olympics. Once victory was achieved, Hitler’s prejudice laws were tried. The 1936 Olympics held various rules and requirements, such as race and bigotry, that created the differences of the Olympics then and now.

The leadership of Adolf Hitler changed Germany for the worst. Adolf Hitler was the supreme ruler of Germany, and the creator of Nazi Germany. In 1918, Hitler became temporarily blind due to a gas attack. Once he heard the news in the hospital that Germany was defeated in World War I, he felt as if he had been betrayed by his own country. Hitler’s anger towards Germany losing the war changed his personality completely, causing the world to become a dictating and strict world known as Nazi Germany (“The Rise of Adolf”).

Wanting to impress citizens of other countries coming into Germany for the 1936 Olympics, Hitler made the German officials take down anti-Jewish signs around Germany to keep the innocent name of his country (“Intro to Hitler”). The Nuremberg Laws helped define Jewish people by their ancestors. These laws helped prevent German Jewish athletes from competing in the 1936 Olympics. German Olympic officials knew which athletes were Jewish and who weren’t by the identity cards they carried around with them, which had a red “J” stickered on to them (“The Nuremberg Race Laws”). After betrayal, discrimination, and dictatorship, the country of Germany has changed forever just being in the hands of Hitler.

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Following the the time of Hitler coming into place as ruler came the discrimination of Jewish Athletes and the Aryan race from Hitler and German officials, clearly showing Adolf’s bias opinions. In 1931, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to make Germany the country to hold the Olympics in 1936. It became known that Nazi Germany was involved with racism, mostly against the Jews and Gypsies. A law soon passed that Jewish athletes could not enter not only the 1936 Olympics, but any sport throughout Germany. Doubts soon came through to IOC whether or not Germany should continue to hold the 1936 Olympics. That is when the American Olympic Committee (AOC) stepped in and questioned IOC’s decisions. The IOC then declared after a facility inspection that the way Jewish athletes were being treated was fair, and that the 1936 Olympics would still be held in Germany (“The 1936 Olympics”). A day before the Olympics started, two Jewish Americans, Sam Stoller and Marty Glickman, were scheduled to participate in the 4×100 meter relay but were replaced by Jesse Owens and Ralph Metcalfe, causing a controversy because of Adolf Hitler’s discrimination against Jews. It has not been proved that U.S. track and field coach Dean Cromwell has a problem or has anything against Jews, and it is not known why Stoller and Glickman were replaced with Owens and Metcalfe (“1936 Olympic Games: Held in Nazi Germany”). Adolf Hitler only allowed athletes of the Aryan race to compete in the 1936 Olympics to publicize his idea of Aryan supremacy, and banned non-Aryan race members from the Olympics, including African-Americans and Jews. Hitler silenced anyone who was opposed of his belief in Aryan supremacy (“The Berlin Olympics of 1936 in a Political Context”). The bias beliefs of Adolf Hitler made a change in the 1936 Olympics.

Many athletes who competed in the 1936 Olympics made historic changes for the better. One example was Jesse Owens. Jesse Owens was an African-American athlete who competed in the track-and-field competition for the Olympics. Owens felt as if he was ready for the big leagues. He entered the 1936 Berlin Olympics held in Nazi Germany. During this time, Hitler believed that the Olympics would support the fact that German Aryan people were the dominant race. Jesse defeated this belief, becoming the first American track and field athlete to win four gold medals in one Olympic competition. Jesse held this record until the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, California, when Carl Lewis defeated Jesse’s record. As said in the article Jesse Owens: Olympic Legend, “During a time of deep-rooted segregation, he not only discredited Hitler’s master race theory, but also affirmed that individual excellence, rather than race or national origin, distinguishes one man from another.” (“About Jesse Owens”). Another relevant athlete who competed in the Olympics was Helene Mayer. Helene Mayer was a gold-medal Olympic fencer who was the only Jewish-related athlete from Germany to compete in the 1936 Olympics. She was originally expelled from competing in sports because of her Jewish culture, but was allowed by Germany Olympic officials to compete in the 1936 Olympics (the reason is unknown) earning her a gold medal (“Helene Mayer Biography – Chronology, Awards and Accomplishments, Further Information”). These athletes and more made a huge impact on the way the Olympics were run.

Through the historic and memorable year of 1936, the world dealt with racism, harsh rules, and the strict dictatorship of Adolf Hitler and many German officials–but once the Olympics came along, the athletes competing made a change in history. Jewish and black athletes contradicted Hitler’s speculations, impacting not only Germany but the rest of the world forever.

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