Olympics 1936

It was Mayor Willy Brandt (West Berlin) who proposed that Berlin combined host the Olympics and commissioned the bid his reasoning behind this was to promote the culture of international sports and represent germany in a positive light. However he was criticised for creating ‘continuous cultural collaborations’  (2011) instead as the games was abused by the Nazi party tarnishing the image of Berlin.

It had already been arranged for Berlin to host the games before the Nazi’s came to power; Hitler abused this power and spectacle to display a facade of how wonderful Nazi Germany was to the rest of the world.  Minister and key thinker Joseph Goebbles  and avid support of Hitler and the Nazi’s ideologies against the Jews encouraged and lead the media campaign to promote Berlin, Propaganda poster such as ‘Jews not welcome here’ were swiftly removed so that no chaos or disruption affected the games.  All sense of the previous propaganda and media based on racist and militaristic ideas the Nazi’s was removed and replaced with the facade that Berlin was peaceful city.  The event has been compared to a stage in the sense that the ‘theatrical atmosphere’ created through grand gestures on behave of the soviet leader Nijita Khrushev. (296:2011)

However the Berlin Olympics, like Berlin itself is over shadowed by its conflicting past and the 1936 will be remembered as spectacle of Nazi Germany ‘the Stadium today stands as a reminder of the ambitions and intentions of its creators’ (4:2003) while the building alone is an interesting piece of archtietecture some people can’t overlook the connotative history stating it is ‘word in stone” that Germany has yet to, and may never completely, overcome’ (4:2003)

Berlin hosted the 1936 Olympics to impressive location of the games was The Olympiastadion less commonly known as the Reichsportfield, the stadium was built for the 1936 games by Otto March and his son  Werner March. The stadium could hold up to 75,000 spectators and was the largest stadium in Germany.

The original stadium built by Otto March was a horse racing course, once Berlin had won the Olympic bid firstly in 1916, it was commissioned to be adapted and parts rebuilt for the Olympics however due to the outbreak of the first world war it was never used till the next Olympics which was transformed by Marches son Werner March.  The attendance of the games was only for the elite (Nazi Germans and athletes) all Jews and non Aryans could not attend the event.

berlin_olympiastadion2

The architecture features an oval shaped roof that facing towards the marathon gate which is also aligned with the bell tower. The exterior of the stadium features heavily on grand columns supporting the building, clearly highly influenced by the architecture native to ancient Greece. March proposed ideas for the news stadium where eventually accepted however it was Albert Speer who proposed the stadiums neo classical facade and physical building of a steel frame surrounded by stone pillars which draw upon Nazi architecture. The building itself was to familiar the grandeur of the coliseum in Rome and the sheer size of the building to impose on those who enterer it, displaying power in every aspect of the build. The building was a neo classical building with a massive podium, tiered seating and clock tower as designed by March. The Olympic rings were held in-between to turrets at the main entrance of the stadium, these turrets were decorated with images including the swastika.  The stadium contains statues designed by Karl Albiker and Josef Wackerle, a famous third Reich artist who’s this include at the entrance statues of men and a horse and men partaking in some of the sports, displaying strength and masculinity.

The bell tower holds the images of the Brandberg gate with the statue of   proudly on top, an eagle holding the Olympics rings in its talons above the motto of ‘ich rufe die junend der welt’ I call the youth of the world this suggests the power and authority that the Hitler interpreted as host of the games, the bell held 2 images of swastika’s also. The bell stood until 1947 when the British attacked Berlin in 1947 and a crack appeared and broke the bell. The Bell tower was burned out also then re0built and used a communication tower as was the northern half of the stadium by the British who used the Reichsportfield as the head quarters for many years. Today the bell tower is part of the tourist attraction of the stadium and holds a replace bell as the original bell is on show outside the grounds. Beneath the bell tower is a smaller building which hold a memorial for the student soldiers who were killed in the battle of Langemarck in 1914, this was open officially when the stadium was built.

2489010-Olympic_Bell_Berlin

After the Second World War the stadium had been bombed as it stood a symbol of Nazi power and as reminder of the propaganda and show that was the Berlin Olympics, the stadium was rebuilt with a new roof and design, the stadium was used for the world cup in 2006.

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Ruth Heavey

Refs

http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/1936_berlin_olympics.htm (09/02/13)

Berlin, West. Press und informationsamt, 750 years Berlin, 1987:Information

Berlin Presse- und informatiosamt des landdes berlin ,1987

http://www.thirdreichruins.com/olympic.htm (09/02/13)

http://www.worldstadiums.com/stadium_menu/architecture/stadium_design/berlin_olympiastadion.shtml (09/02/13)

Kohr,Tod, OlympiasatdionBerlin:Embodying Nazi Politics through architecture, Urban Design Politics 11/03/2003 http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/urban-studies-and-planning/11-302j-urban-design-politics-spring-2010/assignments/MIT11_302JS10_kohr1.pdf (09/02/13)

Cary,Noel D, Olympics in divided Berlin? Popular culture and political imagination at the Cold War frontier, Cold War History Aug 2011,vol 11 issue 3 pg 291-316

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