There was more on display at the 1936 Berlin Olympics than just athleticism. For Adolf Hitler the Olympics provided a world stage to showcase Germany’s Nazi regime.
The 1936 Games are the focus of the exhibit “The Nazi Olympics: Berlin 1936,” on display at the Holocaust Museum Houston. Using photographs, historical documents, propaganda posters and archived video footage, the exhibit explores in depth the systematic effort by Germany score propaganda points through sport.
Created by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington and dedicated to the 12 Olympians from prior Games who perished in the Holocaust, the exhibit also takes a critical look at the docility of the United States and other Western democracies that chose not to boycott the Games.
“A big thing that our museum tries to teach people is to take positive action when they have the opportunity because they may not get a second chance,” said Collin Keel, director of changing exhibits at the Holocaust Museum Houston. “Maybe if America hadn’t gone to the Games, Hitler and the Nazis might have paused and thought, ‘Well, we might not get away with all of this.’”
Visitors to the museum also have a chance to glimpse objects from the 1936 Olympics on loan from local residents, including ticket stubs from Jesse Owens’s gold-medal-winning performance, two English-language brochures from the Olympics, and a commemorative book autographed by medalists that was seized from a high-ranking Nazi official.
Holocaust Museum Houston, 5401 Caroline St., Houston; through Feb. 24, 2004, Mon.–Fri. 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat.-Sun. noon-5 p.m.; free. (713-942-8000 or www.hmh.org)