Games of the XI Olympiad
1 August - 16 August 1936
First Monumental and Politicised Games
The Games of the XI Olympiad were held in Berlin three years after the National-Socialist regime led by Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933 and three years before the outbreak of World War II in 1939. They are best remembered for Adolf Hitler’s failed attempt to use sport to prove his theories of Aryan racial superiority. As it turned out, the most popular hero of the Games was the African-American sprinter and long-jumper Jesse Owens, who won four gold medals. During the long jump competition, Owens’ German rival, Luz Long, publicly befriended him in front of the Nazis.
The equestrian events, held on the last five days of the 16-day programme, played an important part in the overall running of these first monumental and politically misused Olympic Games.
The tickets were quite moderately priced: on the three Dressage days they were from two marks standing to eight marks sitting. On endurance day everybody paid two marks. On closing day, with the Eventing jumping, the Nations Cup Jumping and the closing ceremony, the prices were between three and 15 marks. The response was huge: there were, at any given time, between 15,000 and 20,000 spectators for Dressage. There were 60,000 during endurance day and 120,000 in the Olympic stadium on closing day.
Games Facts & Figures
- 49 nations
- 3,963 athletes (331 women; 3,632 men)
- 19 sports
- 1936 saw the introduction of the torch relay, in which a lighted torch was carried from Olympia to the site of the Games through seven countries- Greece, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Austria and Germany, a total journey of more than 3,000 km.
- The 1936 Olympics were also the first to be broadcast on a form of television. Twenty-five large screens were set up in theatres throughout the city, allowing the local people to follow the Games free of charge.