Extracts from memoirs and writings on the Olympicsby Ian Irvine / March 20, 2012 / Leave a comment
Published in April 2012 issue of Prospect Magazine
Tory MP Henry “Chips” Channon, attending the Berlin Olympics as a guest of the Third Reich, records in his diary, 6th August 1936:
Our ADC, in a grand car with a Storm Trooper at the wheel, called for us and we whizzed off to the Olympic Stadium, which is really a collection of stadiums. First we watched some indifferent polo, then we walked to the largest stadium of all, and watched hurdling and running, which bored us… Whenever there was a win, the entire stadium stood up and, with right arm uplifted, sang the National Anthem, as best they could, of the victorious country. German wins were frequent, and then, not only “Deutschland über Alles” was bellowed, but also the Horst Wessel song, the Nazi anthem, which I thought had rather a good lilt. Thus an hour or so passed, and then, suddenly, the audience was electrified. Hitler was coming and looked exactly like his caricature—brown uniform, Charlie Chaplin moustache, square, stocky figure… I was more excited than I was when I met Mussolini in 1926 in Perugia, and more stimulated, I am sorry to say, than when I was blessed by the Pope in 1920… Berlin has not known anything like this since the war, and one was conscious of the effort the Germans were making to show the world the grandeur, the permanency and respectability of the new regime.
Victor Klemperer, a Jewish professor of literature in Dresden, writes in his diary, 13th August 1936:
The Olympiad, which is now ending, is doubly repugnant to me. 1) As an absurd over-estimation of sport; the honour of the nation depends on whether a fellow citizen can jump four inches higher than all the rest. In any case, a Negro from the United States jumped the highest of all and the Jewess Helen Meyer won the fencing silver medal for Germany (I don’t know which is more shameless, her participating as a German of the Third Reich, or the fact that her achievement is claimed…