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, will be presented in Los Angeles for the first time and will feature a number of key additions, including one of Jesse Owens’ gold medals and Mack Robinson's silver medal, both earned during the 1936 Games.