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Berlin 1936

Jesse Owens

The Berlin Games are best remembered for Adolf Hitler’s failed attempt to use them to prove his theories of Aryan racial superiority. As it turned out, the most popular hero of the Games was the African-American sprinter and long jumper Jesse Owens, who won four gold medals in the 100m, 200m, 4x100m relay and long jump.

Television coverage

The 1936 Games were the first to be broadcast on television. Twenty-five television viewing rooms were set up in the Greater Berlin area, allowing the locals to follow the Games free of charge.

Young Olympians

Thirteen-year-old Marjorie Gestring of the US won the gold medal in springboard diving. She remains the youngest female gold medallist in the history of the Summer Olympic Games. Twelve-year-old Inge Sorensen of Denmark earned a bronze medal in the 200m breaststroke, making her the youngest medallist ever in an individual event.

Debuts and firsts

Basketball, canoeing and field handball all made their first appearances. The Berlin Games also became the first to introduce the torch relay, in which a lighted torch is carried from Olympia in Greece to the site of the current Games.

NOCs: 49
Athletes: 3,963 (331 women, 3,632 men)
Events: 129
Volunteers: n/a
Media: n/a

The symbol of fire

These Games saw the introduction of the torch relay based on an idea by Dr Carl Diem. A lit torch was carried from Olympia to the site of the Games through seven countries- Greece, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Austria and Germany: a total journey of more than 3,000 km.

Television coverage

The 1936 Games were also the first to be broadcast on television. Twenty-five television viewing rooms were set up in the Greater Berlin area, allowing the locals to follow the Games free of charge.

Leni Riefenstahl's official film

« Olympia” is a film that is radically different from all those made about sport before it. The director chose to highlight the aesthetics of the body by filming it from every angle. This film brought about new perspectives in cinematography and still remains without equal.

The prizes

Apart from medals, the athletes received a winner's crown and an oak tree in a pot.

New on the programme

For the first time, the programme included men's handball and basketball tournaments.

Crowd

More than four million tickets sold.

Twelve years from Berlin to London

As with World War I, the outbreak of hostilities, first in Japan and China and then in Europe, would make it impossible for the Games of the XII and XIII Olympiads to be held in 1940 and 1944 respectively. In fact, it would be 12 years before the Olympic flame would once again burn in an Olympic stadium, in London, in 1948.

Ceremonies

Berlin 1936. Arrival of the Olympic Flame at the Olympic Stadium.

Official opening of the Games by:
Chancellor Adolf Hitler

Lighting the Olympic Flame by:
Fritz Schilgen (athletics)

Olympic Oath by:
Rudolf Ismayr (weightlifting)

Official Oath by:
The officials' oath at an Olympic Summer Games was first sworn in 1972 in Munich.

Berlin 1936 Emblem

It was created purely by chance- an artist, Johannes Boehland, started by designing an emblem containing the five Olympic rings with a superimposed eagle and the Brandenburg Gate, one of the symbols of the city. However, the President of the Games Organising Committee, Dr Lewald, was not satisfied with this composition and took the initiative to open the bottom part of the emblem, which turned the design into a bell. Although it was purely by chance that it was created, the symbolism of this figure was immediately recognised. On the side of the bell is the inscription “Ich rufe die Jugend der Welt!” (I call the youth of the world). The artist, Johannes Boehland, commissioned to continue designing the emblem on this theme. The definitive emblem was thus composed of the Olympic bell on which can be found the Olympic rings with the German eagle superimposed. As well as the Olympic rings, flame and oath, the bell became one of the strong and omnipresent symbols of the Berlin Games.

Berlin 1936 Medals

On the obverse, the traditional goddess of victory, holding a palm in her left hand and a winner’s crown in her right. A design used since the 1928 Games in Amsterdam, created by Florentine artist Giuseppe Cassioli (ITA -1865-1942) and chosen after a competition organised by the International Olympic Committee in 1921. For these Games, the picture of victory is accompanied by the specific inscription: ""XI. OLYMPIADE BERLIN 1936".

On the reverse, an Olympic champion carried in triumph by the crowd, with the Olympic stadium in the background. N.B: From 1928 to 1968, the medals for the Summer Games were identical. The Organising Committee for the Games in Munich in 1972 broke new ground by having a different reverse which was designed by a Bauhaus representative, Gerhard Marcks.

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Berlin 1936 Torch

Number of torchbearers: 3 075 
Total distance: 3 075 km (not including the special stages in Kiel and Grünau) 
Countries crossed: Greece, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Germany

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Berlin 1936 Poster

A competition was held for the design of the poster, but none of the entries were satisfactory. The publicity committee commissioned different artists and finally chose the project of Mr Würbel, that became the official poster. It features the Quadriga from the Brandenburg Gate, a landmark of the city of Berlin. In the background is the figure of a wreathed victor, his arm raised in the Olympic salute, symbolising Olympic sport. 243,000 copies were made in 19 languages and it was distributed in 34 countries.

Berlin 1936 Official Reports

“The XIth Olympic Games Berlin, 1936: official report” was the first official report to be produced in two volumes, which would subsequently become the norm. There was an English edition and a German edition.





  • Berlin 1936
    • 12 Mar 2014 |
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      “The XIth Olympic Games Berlin, 1936: official report” was the first official report to be produced in two volumes, which would subsequently become the norm. There was an English edition and a German edition.

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