After reading Peter Gay’s story on his perspective on the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, I decided to look into how the international community felt about giving the Nazi regime legitimacy and exposure by participating in the games. Like how the United States boycotted the Olympic Games in Moscow in 1980 due to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, it wasn’t unreasonable to think other countries might have some concern over giving a platform to a regime that was known to oppress Jews and other minorities. For example, Spain and the Soviet Union did not participate due to their grievances with the Nazi government. However, despite reservations and protests by some in the United States, it seemed like the international community decided to participate and not embarrass or anger Germany.
Avery Brundange, who led the United States Olympic Committee, was a strong supporter of participating in the Berlin Olympics with the belief that politics had no place in sports. He even took a trip to Germany to examine if the Nazis were in fact targeting Jewish athletes. Obviously the Nazis went to great lengths to put on a good presentation for the visiting Americans so Brundage just assumed the Nazis were not actually disenfranchising the Jewish athletes. President Roosevelt could have intervened like Jimmy Carter did with the 1980 Olympics but chose to not do anything about it and let the Olympic Committee make its choices independently. So the United States participated, however in order to not offend Hitler, Brundage personally pressured the US track coach to pull Sam Stoller and Marty Glickman, two American Jewish athletes, from their events.
Despite all the controversy, little drama occurred during the games except for the rumor that Hitler refused to meet or shake the hands of Black American athletes like Jesse Owens. But Owens didn’t seem to care and the games ended a success for all parties.