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Politics, Race, and Propaganda: The Nazi Olympics, Berlin 1936

For two weeks in August 1936, Adolf Hitler’s dictatorship masked its racist, militarist character while hosting the Olympic Games. To divert attention from its anti-Semitic agenda and plans for territorial expansion, the regime exploited the Games to dazzle spectators with a false image of a peaceful, tolerant Germany.

Prior to the Games a controversial proposed boycott was hotly debated due to the racial discrimination of the Nazi regime. Yet once the International Olympic Committee quelled concerns about the safety of black athletes in Nazi Germany, most African American newspapers opposed a boycott. Many pundits underscored the hypocrisy of pro-boycotters who did not first address discrimination against black athletes here at home. In the end, eighteen African American athletes, including Jesse Owens, Mack Robinson, and Ralph Metcalfe, competed for the United States at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Politics, Race, and Propaganda: The Nazi Olympics, Berlin 1936 features historic photographs and documents, riveting films, Olympics regalia and promotional materials, along with first-person accounts that tell the stories of athletes who were barred because of their ethnic heritage, those who boycotted the Games in protest, and the African Americans who competed and won a total of fourteen medals, refuting the Nazi myth of “Aryan” supremacy. The exhibition, organized by United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, is presented in Los Angeles for the first time and features a number of key additions, including one of the gold medals Jesse Owens earned during the 1936 Games.

Politics, Race, and Propaganda: The Nazi Olympics, Berlin 1936 is produced by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, presented by the Southern California Committee for the Olympic Games, and sponsored by the Foundation for Global Sports Development.
logos for Foundation for Global Sports and SCCOG

Image: American Olympic athlete Jesse Owens runs his historic 200 meter race at the 11th Olympiad in Berlin. Owens won the race with a time of 20.7 seconds, establishing a new Olympic record. — Courtesy of Library of Congress





Exhibition Programs

Sunday, October 23, 2016 | 2:00 p.m.
First Place!

The exhibition Politics, Race, and Propaganda: The Nazi Olympics, Berlin 1936 highlights the achievements of various athletes during the 1936 Olympic games, including medal winners Jesse Owens and Mack Robinson. Make your own Olympic medal to celebrate an achievement. All supplies provided. Ages 5 and up. Click here to RSVP or call 213.744.2024.

Sunday, October 23, 2016 | 3:00 – 5:00 p.m.
In Conversation: Politics, Race, and Propaganda: The Nazi Olympics, Berlin 1936

Hear from United States Holocaust Memorial Museum curator Susan Bachrach, International Olympic Committee leader and Olympian Anita DeFrantz, and Olympian Mark Spitz in a presentation that provides a historical context for the politically charged 1936 Olympic games. This program is moderated by Christopher D. West, professor of history, Pasadena City College. Click here to RSVP or call 213.744.2024.

Saturday November 19, 2016 | 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Film Screening: Olympic Pride, American Prejudice
Location: Frank Sinatra Theatre, University of Southern California

Recalling his experience Olympics, athlete Jesse Owens once said: “Although I wasn't invited to shake hands with Hitler, I wasn't invited to the White House to shake hands with the President either.” In conjunction with the exhibition Politics, Race, and Propaganda: The Nazi Olympics, Berlin 1936, join us for a screening of the critically acclaimed film Olympic Pride, American Prejudice, which explores the experiences of the eighteen African American Olympians who defied Jim Crow and Adolf Hitler to win hearts and medals at the 1936 Olympic Games. Set against the turbulent atmosphere of a racially divided America, which was torn between boycotting Hitler’s Olympics and participating in the Third Reich’s grandest affair, the film follows sixteen men and two women before, during, and after their heroic turn at the Olympic Games in Berlin. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with writer/director Deborah Riley Draper and special guests. Click here to RSVP or call 213.744.2024. Parking for the School of Cinematic Arts is at 900 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007 (use that address for online map apps).

Thursday December 8, 2016 | 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Film Screening: Munich ‘72 and Beyond
Location: IMAX Theater at the California Science Center

Unfortunately, this event has been cancelled.