The 1936 Olympics have become a mere footnote in history, remembered mostly for the heroics of Jesse Owens. The events that followed in Germany, namely the Holocaust and World War II overshadowed the Berlin games. However, it is very important to note that a world gathering like the Olympics could take place in a country that was in the process of eliminating an entire race of people. These games were used by the Nazis as a huge propaganda effort for Germany to show to the rest of the world that they had again become a powerful nation under the leader of the Adolf Hitler. The games were a huge success in this regard, the Nazi regime was able to fool and world and prove to Germany that they were everything the Nazi had said. But did the Olympic Games have any effect on the chain of events that led up the Holocaust and World War II?
Germans became quite obsessed with sport in the 1870's following the end of the Napoleonic wars in Europe. Friedrich Ludwig Jahn popularized gymnastics which became a staple of the German education system. At this time gymnastics was not the sport we think of today, but instead more of a show of mass strength and to promote national unity in the newly formed Germany at the end of the nineteenth century. These ideas were very popular and every German youth was required to participate in them as part of their education.
Along with promoting sporting programs in school, the Germans played a major role in the reinstatement of the Olympics. Men like Jahn and Ernest Curtius went around the country giving speeches on the subject. The goal was to create a powerful state like the old Greeks, and the holding of annual athletic Olympics was a big part of this idea. With the help of the Germans as well as many other European nations the Olympics were reinstated in 1896, with the first Olympics being held in Athens Greece.
The Germans waited patiently and were extremely happy when th...