Australia at the 1936 Nazi Olympics
By Larry Writer
Published by Allen & Unwin
AUD $32.99 in paperback
A change of pace here with Dangerous Games – a new book about the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games in which a team of 33 Australian athletes competed. Compared with today’s athletes, the team was poorly prepared with limited support – and politically naïve.
As Larry Writer says, this was the Olympics with a ‘rancid underbelly’ meant to demonstrate Aryan superiority except American athlete Jesse Owens rained on Hitler’s parade, so to speak. Writer describes the 100m men’s final in detail, ending with just one sentence: ‘Hitler and his party rose and left the arena.’ Jesse Owens had just run 10.3 seconds to equal the world and Olympic record and stunned the Fuhrer into silence.
This is indeed a tale of innocents abroad and a tale too of Olympic ideals subsumed by the tyranny of the Nazis. It was to be 1948 before the Olympics were held again.