Germans Awarded Most Gold, Silver, Bronze Medals
Many claim the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin were an embarrassment for the German Reich after Jesse Owens won four gold medals in the sprint and long jump events.
However, these critics ignore that Germans dominated nearly every other event.
Here is the gold medal count from the games:
United States: 24
Here is the total medal count from the games:
United States: 56
(That’s right, Germans won more gold, silver, bronze, and total medals than ANY other country in 1936.)
The 1936 Olympics also demonstrated the efficient infrastructure of the German Reich.
Germany built a new 100,000-seat track and field stadium, six gymnasiums, and several other venues. They also installed a closed-circuit television system and radio network that reached 41 countries, with many other forms of expensive high-tech electronic equipment.
The games were the first to have live television coverage. The German Post Office, using equipment from Telefunken, broadcast over 70 hours of coverage
Filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl was commissioned by the German Olympic Committee to film the Games. Her film, titled Olympia, created many of the techniques now common in the filming of sports.
The television footage also shows quite a different story than the one created by historians.
During the opening ceremony, French and Italian Olympians joyfully bowed and saluted German Chancellor Adolf Hitler.
Later, German Olympian Luz Long offered Jesse Owens advice after he almost failed to qualify in the long jump. Long was later awarded the Pierre de Coubertin medal for sportsmanship.
The Germans believed sports built respect among competitors but also separated the strong from the weak.
The head of the Reich Sports Office (Reichssportführer), Hans von Tschammer und Osten, claimed sports was a “way to weed out the weak, Jewish, and other undesirables.”
German Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels was asked about athletics and declared that “German sport has only one task: to strengthen the character of the German people, imbuing it with the fighting spirit and steadfast camaraderie necessary in the struggle for its existence.”
German Chancellor Adolf Hitler added that “the sportive, knightly battle awakens the best human characteristics. It doesn’t separate, but unites the combatants in understanding and respect. It also helps to connect the countries in the spirit of peace. That’s why the Olympic Flame should never die.”
In fact, the legacy of those games continues today with the Olympic Torch Relay, which first began in Germany back in 1936.
Therefore, the 1936 Summer Olympics did not embarrass the Germans but demonstrated the power and greatness of the German spirit.