Skip To Content

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Fast Forward

Jewish High Jumper Barred From Nazi Olympics Dies at 103

Margaret Bergmann Lambert, a record-breaking athlete who was barred by the Nazis from competing for Germany in the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympics because she was Jewish, died in Queens, N.Y. on Tuesday at the age of 103.

Lambert was known in her athletic prime as “The Great Jewish Hope.” Then known as Gretel Bergmann, she set the German record with a high-jump of five feet, three inches at a meet at Adolf Hitler Stadium in Stuttgart a month before the Games. But she soon received a letter from Nazi officials stating: “Looking back on your recent performances, you could not possibly have expected to be chosen for the team.”

The meet had only been an exhibition to convince athletes considering boycotting the Olympics that Germany didn’t discriminate in sports. Her name was removed from the German record books.

She immigrated to the United States the following year, and quickly won the U.S. women’s high-jump championships in 1937 and 1938. But World War II forced the cancellation of the 1940 Olympics — she was never able to compete on the biggest stage in sports.

In 1938, she married another German refugee, Dr. Bruno Lambert, who died in 2013. She is survived by two children, two grandchildren, and a great-grandchild.

Today, sports stadiums are named after her in Queens, Berlin and her hometown of Laupheim. Her German national high jump record was restored in 2009.

Contact Aiden Pink at [email protected] or on Twitter, @aidenpink.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.