Thursday, February 6, 2014


No, I'm not going to translate the text from this German tobacco card.  My one term of college German, forty years ago, and Google translate isn't enough to  figure out what all this says.  Any German speakers out there, have at it, and if you're willing to post a translation in the comments section, I for one will be grateful.

We've all heard of the Nazi Olympics of 1936.  Berlin, Jessie Owens, and all that.  But, there were two Nazi games.  1936 was the third and last time  the same country hosted both the summer and winter games. Garmisch-Partenkirchen, a resort town in Bavaria, hosted the skiers, skaters and bob-sledders.

G-P (No, I'm not going to spell it out every time.) is also the place where Avery Brundage, the only American IOC President, died.  That's an interesting coincidence, because Brundage was partly responsible for an American presence at Berlin and G-P.   The IOC had awarded the games to Germany in 1931, the year before the Nazis came to power.  After Hitler became Chancellor, and well before the games were set to begin, Jews had been expelled from all German sports clubs,and the anti-Jewish Nuremberg Laws had been passed.  Kristallnacht was two years in the future.

As a response to the growing anti-Semitism in Germany, a movement to withdraw from the German games began within the American Olympic Committee.  Avery Brundage, at the time a member of the committee and head of The Amateur Athletic Union, became the major opponent of a boycott.  At one point he referred to what was going on in Germany as a minor religious dispute.  In the end, Brundage won the day.

Brundage was also instrumental in Jessie Owens fourth gold medal in the 4x100 relay at Berlin.  Owens wasn't scheduled to be in the race, but Brundage ordered the removal of two Jewish runners from the event.  To Owens' credit, he tried to refuse his placement in the race, but wasn't given a choice.  Ralph Metcalfe, the other replacement, also tried to decline a spot in the relay.  When Jessie Owens left a post Olympic tour of Europe to return home, Avery Brundage stripped him of his amateur status.  Nice guy.

So, how did Brundage end his days in G-P?  At the age of 85, he married a 36 year old German princess, and became a German resident.

I'd say we learned from all this, but current IOC President Thomas Bach is  trying to put on a happy face about Russian human rights violations, including anti-gay laws.  Let the games begin!

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