The Berlin 1936 games were the first ever broadcast on television, and the first to feature the Olympic torch relay from Greece to the site of the games. The torch-lighting was part of Nazi plans to host an Olympics that would out-shine all previous games.
In the month before the dazzling opening ceremonies police arrested nearly one-thousand Roma and Sinti people, interning them in a camp on the edge of the city near Berlin's sewage fields.
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She and two other Austrian swimmers, Ruth Langer (middle in photo) and Lucie Goldman (right) swam at a Jewish club because they were barred from training pools, by signs reading No entry for dogs and Jews.
At age 14, Ruth held eight national titles and the Austrian records in 100m and 400m free-style. Judith
dominated Austrian swimming 1934-36 and was the Austrian National champion in the 100-meter freestyle, 200-meter freestyle, and 400-meter freestyle all three years; she was elected Outstanding Austrian Athlete in 1935.
Three young Jewish girls gave up their dreams to follow their consciences.
In an interview with Reuters, Ruth said, "It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. But being Jewish, it was unthinkable to compete in the Games in Nazi Germany, where my people were being persecuted.''
Because of their refusal to swim in Berlin, Ruth (at right), Judith and Lucie were stripped from the Austrian record books, and suspended by Austrian authorities from all national and international competition.
Lucie Goldman, the Austrian backstroke champion, escaped to Australia. In 1995, when the Austrian government finally apologized and reinstated the champions’ records, all three women declined to travel to the ceremony.
Judith wrote: "I am happy to accept your apologies and the withdrawal of sanctions against me...And in no way do I regret having done what I did sixty years ago."
When American Jews and Christian and labor groups called for U.S. athletes to boycott the 1936 Olympics, the US Olympic Committee President, Avery Bundage traveled to Germany to investigate claims of Nazi discrimination against Jews. He reported such claims were exaggerated “and the unhindered continuance of the Olympic movement were more important than the German-Jewish situation.” Three Jewish-American track and field athletes withdrew from Olympic trials in protest of Nazi policies.
See the PBS film The Nazi Games here...