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July 20: A Nazi Ban on Jewish Olympians

July 20, 2014
d42-7The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported on this date in 1936 that the Nazi government in Berlin had forbidden all German newspapers from “reporting anything about the activities of Jews on Olympic teams or to comment on participation of Jews in next month’s games.... One of the purposes of this measure was believed to be to prevent Jewish papers in the Reich from mentioning that Greta Bergmann, a champion high-jumper and one of the two ‘non-Aryan’ member of the German Olympic team, has been eliminated from competition.” Thirteen Jews (or people of Jewish descent) nevertheless won medals in the Nazi Olympics, including six Hungarians and one German, Helene Mayer, a mischling fencer (mixed-race, in her case with a Jewish father) who had fled the Nazis once Jewish athletes were expelled from sports associations, but returned to compete on the German team, wearing a swastika on her sleeve. Roma people were also purged from German sports. Two days after the 1936 Olympics, Captain Wolfgang Fürstner, head of the Olympic village, killed himself after being dismissed from the military because of his Jewish ancestry. “In 1940, the Olympic games will take place in Tokyo. But thereafter they will take place in Germany for all time to come, in this stadium.” —Adolf Hitler to Albert Speer, Spring, 1937