Courtesy of Corinth Releasing
As told in the German feature film “Berlin 36,” opening in New York September 16 and Los Angeles September 23, Gretel Bergmann, Germany’s greatest female high jumper at the time of the 1936 Berlin Olympics, was very much “out” as a Jew, and she suffered the consequences. But a competitor, Marie Ketteler, who figured prominently in the story, was in the closet sexually.
There are immediate hints in the movie that there’s something amiss about this 17-year-old, who is flat chested and affirms to her doctor that she’s not yet had a period. Eventually, it becomes clear that she is really a he. A 2009 article in Der Spiegel indicated that Ketteler was actually Dora Ratjens, whose gender was misidentified upon birth because of ambiguous genitalia, and who was brought up as a girl.
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