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The 1936 Olympic Games Were A Failure For Nazi Propaganda

There are many different answers to this question and none of them would be accurate without looking at all of the different sources. To do this all the sources will have to be explained, analysed in different areas and the concluded. This is what I will attempt to do.

Source one is, at first glance, just a photo of a big building until you look closer. It is in fact the newly built Olympic stadium. It seated 100,000 people which is colossal.

It is built in a circular stature which was not done by chance. It makes sure everyone is focused right into the middle of the stadium where Hitler can parade all sorts of propaganda marches and salutes. It is also said that this was one of 150 buildings that were built before the games. This suggests that the Nazis were intent on showing of Germany to be a world power once again. The stadium looks very full which shows that the games were popular with lots of people.

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This does not really show if the games were a propaganda success but definitely shows it was very popular.

Source two was written by a person called R. Hart-Davis in 1986. This person is most likely a historian which means they are able to look at all of the evidence and are less likely to be biased. They concede that the opening ceremony was , “magnificently planned and executed”. Aside from this he seemed to be a bit suspicious of the military feel to it and, “The continuous saluting”.

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This shows above all else how smoothly the games were done. If anything, this shows the Games to be a propaganda success because of the said adulation towards Hitler, foreigners would undoubtedly go home with respect for him, seeing how he had won over the people.

Source three was written by William E. Dodd who was the U.S ambassador to Germany. He is describing the closing ceremony. It most be pointed out straight away that Dodd was opposed to Nazism. Dodd also says how modern and well done the Games were, “I have never seen such an elaborate show”. He also seems to not be at all fooled by the subtle propaganda and saw through it straight away. You can tell this just from him mentioning it, “The propaganda seemed to have pleased the Germans”.

He then goes on to show that quite a few foreigners had also spotted the other motive for the huge scale of the Games, “It (the propaganda) had a bad influence on foreigners”. He then concedes that the games were very impressive, “Fine entertainment of all concerned”. This shows that the games were a propaganda success as well as a propaganda failure. It must be pointed out again that: Dodd was opposed to Nazism and he was American so Germany would not be to popular with him anyway. He probably exaggerates the bad things he says and misses out many good bits. It shows one thing above all though, people spotted the propaganda and it made enough of an impact on them to report it. This would suggest it was more of a failure the a success.

Source four was written by Godfrey Brown, he was a 400 metre runner in the British team in the 1936 Olympics. He does nothing but slag off the Germans, Hitler Youth and the propaganda, “We were treated to a piece of political propaganda”, “fat and greasy citizens”, “we made a dash for the first train home”. He mentions nothing about the games themselves apart from the fact that they were just an excuse for a big propaganda event, he obviously sees straight through them and has no problem in saying it. On the whole, this source shows the games were not a big propaganda success.

Source five is a picture and some text about the hero of the games, the black American athlete, Jesse Owens. One of the major points of the games were to show how good Hitler’s pure raced Germans or as he called them, Aryans. These would be tall, well built Germans with blue eyes and blonde hair. Jesse Owens was black and American so Hitler thought he was inferior. Jesse Owens won the 100m, 200m, long jump and 4[ds1]?100m relay. Hitler was not best pleased with this. Owens also broke 11 Olympic records and was easily the best athlete of the games.

This shows nothing about the games apart from completely showing up Hitler by proving his Aryans can be beaten by a black person. Owens was also very popular with the crowd. This is obviously very bad propaganda for the Nazis, as it shows they are not superior when it came to winning the most important events. This information is also not opinion. It actually shows the Aryans could not compare to Owens speed. The picture just shows Owens winning in front of the huge crowd.

Source six is the Reich youth leader, Baldur Von Schirach , claiming that after the multiple victory’s of Jesse Owens, Hitler said how he, ” will not shake hands with this Negro”, The Americans should be ashamed of themselves, letting Negro’s win their medals for them”. This is just showing how racist Hitler is and how he cannot lose graciously. This is very bad publicity for Hitler and people will assume that if that is the view of the leader, that will be the view of the country. This is bad propaganda for, not only Hitler but the whole of Germany.

Source seven is again by R. Hart-Davis from the same book, Hitler’s games, 1986. It talks about only one feature of the games that no-one had ever seen before. Television. The Nazis had decided to try and publicise the games further by attempting to televise the event. It was very ambitious as it would have been the first sporting event publicly broadcasted on television. It was in the end a failure as the picture quality was so poor, “many people turned away in disappointment”. This was in some ways good but in other ways bad propaganda. It shows how Germany can try these things and have the equipment to get any picture at all but it also shows that it was undoubtedly a failed attempt. This shows more bad propaganda then good but it also says fans were delighted with the, “immense stopwatch mounted on the marathon gate”. This was a small compensation for the failed television but better then none at all.

Source 8 is written by a historian called Z. Zeman who describes the success of the radio during the Games, “2500 reports were broadcast in 28 languages”, “the effort and the accomplishment was indeed impressive”, “full of admiration for the genius German broadcasters”. This was very good propaganda because it showed how good the Germans are with electronics and organisation. It also broadcast the success of the Germans throughout 28 different country’s.

Source nine is the official medal tables for the 1936 Olympic Games.

Nation Gold Silver Bronze

1.Germany 33 26 30

2.U.S.A 24 20 12

10.Great Britain 4 7 3

This table shows that despite the success of Jesse Owens, they managed to absolutely demolish the U.S.A in the medals table. This shows the true ability of the German athletes and how they can completely overwhelm a far bigger country.

In conclusion I think source nine has the final say. Up to that it is all quite fair with the slagging off from the British athletes and the success of Jesse Owens against the astonishing planning and execution of the opening and closing ceremony and the superb radio quality. This is fair until the fact that the Germans managed to beat a country 10 times their size is thrown in, I think this tilts the scales and shows that the 1936 Olympic Games were not a failure for Nazi Propaganda.

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The 1936 Olympic Games Were A Failure For Nazi Propaganda. (2020, Jun 01). Retrieved from

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