As the 2016 Rio Olympic games are underway, we want to take you down memory lane to a time that is rarely spoken about and almost forgotten. The Summer Olympics of 1936 in Berlin and the London Summer Olympics of 1948. These particular games prove that nations can stand together for many reasons and not only have a great time but also competitive fun. They were both hosted after major wars and yet they were successful, showing the resilience and forward thinking of the leaders, sportsmen and countrymen.
Berlin Game 1936
The 1936 Berlin games are officially known as the Games of the XI Olympiad and were the last games before the great world war 2. Germany had won the bid to host the games and they invested in the famous sporting event quite heavily with a sum close to USD30 million. Reich Chancellor Adolf Hitler saw the Games as an opportunity to promote his government and ideals of racial supremacy. The official Nazi party paper, the Völkischer Beobachter, wrote in the strongest terms that Jews and Black people should not be allowed to participate in the Games. However, when threatened with a boycott by other nations, he relented allowed the participation, and added one token participant to the German team—a German woman, Helene Mayer, who had a Jewish father. One of Hitler’s government trusted members Hans von Tschammer und Osten was tasked to organize the Olympics. He pushed and promoted the idea that the use of sports would harden the German spirit and instill unity among German youth. At the same time he also believed that sports was a "way to weed out the weak, Jewish, and other undesirables." These games saw a total 49 countries participate and compete for gold.
London Olympics 1948
The 1948 Olympics games also known as the “Austerity games” came just after the end of the world war 2. The economic climate and post-war rationing resulted in no new venues being built for the games, and athletes were housed in existing accommodation in the Wembley area instead of an Olympic Village. The war aggressors Germany and Japan were banned from the games and the USSR was invited, but they did not send any athletes. A total of 59 countries attended the 2 weeks of friendly rivalry in London.
12 years after the 1936 Berlin games, the torch relay tradition had been introduced and this continued into the following games there after.
What is truly fascinating about these two particular Olympic games is that despite the tensions of the times, the games were successful. It is true to say that when we all come together for a common cause we can do great mighty things.
See you on the battlefield!
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