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

The International Olympic Committee awarded the 1936 Summer Games to Berlin in 1931, two years before Hitler took power. Nazi racist policies, including the exclusion of Jewish athletes from German sports clubs and competition, prompted opposition from abroad. In the United States, many amateur sports leaders and newspaper editors urged a boycott of the 1936 Games. But in the end, the boycott effort narrowly failed, and 50 countries sent teams to Berlin.

Using historical photographs, film, and the testimonies of athletes, THE NAZI OLYMPICS Berlin 1936 documents the Nazification of German sport and the boycott controversy. The facade of a beautified Berlin is stripped away to expose Nazi propaganda, press censorship, Germany’s remilitarization program, and the arbitrary arrest and imprisonment of “enemies of the state.” Olympic pageantry and competition brought only a brief pause in the anti-Jewish campaign.

THE NAZI OLYMPICS Berlin 1936 highlights the stories of athletes who boycotted, participated in, or were barred from the Games. Nazi commentary on the victories of track star Jesse Owens and other African Americans and the exclusion of German Jewish high jumper Gretel Bergmann from the Olympics underscore the virulence of Nazi racism. After the Games, Germany’s expansionist policies and the persecution of Jews and other victims of Nazi racism accelerated, culminating in World War II and the Holocaust.

The exhibition’s run in Austin is hosted by the H.J. Lutcher Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sport and The Texas Program in Sports and Media. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum exhibitions program is supported in part by the Lester Robbins and Sheila Johnson Robbins Traveling and Special Exhibitions Fund established in 1990.


The H.J. Lutcher Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports is located on the fifth floor in the North End Zone of D.K.R. Texas Memorial Stadium. The physical address is 403 E. 23rd St. Austin, TX 78712.

The Stark Center is open 9 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday and 11 am to 5 pm on (most) Saturdays and Sundays. On the Saturdays of UT football home games, the Stark Center is open prior to the start of the football game and accessible by UT football ticket holders as a part of Texas Athletics’ Fan Fest.  The best available parking is in the Manor Garage, east of the football stadium.


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