Why the Olympics Were So Important to the Nazis: Fascism, Diplomacy, and Germany's Role in Interwar Europe

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Program Description


In the summer of 1936, the Third Reich hosted the first Olympic Games ever to be held in Germany. Three years later, the same country plunged Europe and the world into the most destructive conflict in human history. Controversial at the time, the "Nazi Olympics" thus became even more so in retrospect, compelling scholars to explain why such an inhuman regime received this honor to begin with, and how it orchestrated the event for maximum propaganda value. Less well known are the specific goals Hitler and the Nazis hoped to achieve as a result, whether they actually accomplished those objectives, and the extent to which the affair as a whole helped the road to World War II. Dr. Bradley Nichols' lecture will address these issues by describing the political scene in Europe on the eve of the 1936 Summer Olympics as well as gauging its reception in the public sphere afterward. By placing these dynamics in historical context, he will show how our knowledge and memory of the 14th Olympiad has been fundamentally shaped by an effort to excuse isolationism and appeasement, while simultaneously depicting the Western Allies (including the U.S.) as enemies of Hitler's Germany from the outset. A link will be posted here the day of the event in order to join the presentation.

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