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Date
16 Aug 2006
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IOC News

Seventy years since the Berlin Games


Berlin, August 1936, the Games of the XI Olympiad. It has been 70 years since these Games took place in the German capital. The country celebrated the event like never before: 1,000 special trains transporting the spectators, 4.5 million tickets sold, and German athletes winning 33 gold medals (compared to three in Los Angeles four years previously). The special press envoys were not fooled, however; Jacques Goddet’s headline in L’Equipe was: “The blighted Games.”
 
Jesse Owens, undisputed hero of these Games
We will not go over the triumph of Jesse Owens, winner of the 100m, 200m, the long jump and the 4x100m relay. We won’t speak of the incredible friendship which, during the course of an event, united the fun-loving American with Germany’s Carl Ludwig Long. We will remember, nevertheless, the magnificent image of the two athletes photographed together, laughing, as partners, alone in the world, ignoring the terrible atmosphere which reigned at the time.
 
Nod to history
It was in this very stadium that, on 9 July of this year, the football World Cup final was played. It dates back to the 19th century, when horse racing was organised there. A stadium was then built for the 1916 Games. These never took place, however, owing to the First World War. With Hitler coming to power in 1933, the plans for the Reichssportfeld took on a whole new pace. The Führer ordered the destruction of the former stadium to make way for a new one in another style, for the 1936 Games.
 
Nazi propaganda theatre

Roman décor and large colossus statues were the theatre of Nazi propaganda, even though Hitler forbade any anti-Semitic attacks during the competitions. During the Second World War, a bunker was built under the Stadium. The Stadium miraculously survived the bombing and, in 1945, became the headquarters of the British troops. Today, it has been baptised Olympiastadion. At the entrance is a commemorative plaque on which features, among others, the name Owens - a reminder of the famous Games of 1936.

 Berlin 1936

 Multimedia Gallery Berlin 1936

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