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‹ Return to Berlin
Olympic Stadium, Then & Now
Visitors photographed in 1936 and 2011.
It was a struggle to match these two photos, my position was slightly out. It doesn’t show much the way I have edited it. The extra bit on the left is the new roof added for the World Cup in 2006.
Built for the 1936 Olympiad, the stadium and its surrounds look much the same now as they did back then, having suffered very little damage during the war, although in 2002 an unexploded bomb was discovered beneath a section of seating.
The star of the 1936 Olympiad was Jesse Owens.
Hitler refused to shake hands with him after he won the Gold Medal for the 100m sprint as did US President Roosevelt. At the team’s welcome home reception at the Waldorf-Astoria, Owens wasn’t allowed to use the Hotel’s front entrance and had to use the freight elevator to get to the party.
Owens won 4 Gold Medals in all; 100m, 200m, long jump and was part of the American 400m relay team. He was asked by Nazi party member Adolf Dassler (hence; Adidas – his brother Rudolf by the way, created the rival company Puma) to wear his design of running shoes, thus becoming one of the first sponsored sports stars. Owens was well received by the German spectators, if not by the Nazi elite. There are now many places named after him, including Jesse Owens Allee, a main road to the south of this stadium.
Owens real name was James Cleveland, but after a schoolteacher misheard him give his initials (JC) it became ‘Jesse’.
The original photo in wikipedia commons
A Couple of Videos on Youtube;
Below; British news report showing Owens win the 100m sprint. There’s also a bit on the women’s javelin contest; “and here’s little Sadako Yamamoto of Japan, with a name that spells trouble for commentators and a throw that just falls short of the 40 metre line.”
Below; High quality colour propaganda film selling Berlin to the world. It’s a fascinating video. During the games, the Nazis tried to play down their hatred of the Jews and many of the more public displays of anti-semitism, for instance the cases that displayed copies of the weekly tabloid Der Stürmer, were temporarily removed.
Famous photo of Jesse Owens at the 1936 Olympiad from wikipedia commons
Original statues from 1936 of Aryan relay runners at the Reich Sports Field.