Breana Wilhelm

Faculty Advisor

Joan Clinefelter

Document Type


Publication Date



“No nation since ancient Greece has captured the true Olympic Spirit as has Germany.” – Avery Brundage, President of the United States Olympic Committee. The 1936 Berlin Olympics presented the Third Reich as a country renewed from the ashes of the Great War. Germany was a place of culture, and immense propaganda. Historians and the general public regard the Third Reich as a criminal regime; however, my research shows that in 1936, the international community praised the Nazi Olympics. To what extent did the Nazis use the 1936 Olympics as propaganda on the world stage? The Nazis used the Berlin Olympics to gain a positive reputation in the world. They accomplished this through placing the concept of a New Germany on display at the Games. The Olympics served as a distraction from the violations of the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. The Nazis used the German people’s hospitality to sway the opinions of foreign visitors. This caused Olympic athletes including Jesse Owens, to relay positive stories of their time in Berlin. Studying the 1936 Berlin Olympics is important because it reveals how the Nazis used their propaganda for domestic audiences and foreign audiences alike. The methodology for my research included accessing the New York Times database to acquire period articles about the 1936 Olympics, and analyzing Leni Riefenstahl’s 1938 propaganda film Olympia. I also found evidence suggesting the existence of international propaganda in Guy Walter’s Berlin Games: How the Nazis Stole the Olympic Dream, Christopher Hilton’s Hitler’s Olympics: 1936 Berlin Olympics, Cooper Graham’s Leni Riefenstahl and Olympia, and Duff Hart-Davis’ Hitler’s Games. While looking through these sources I found that the Nazis used the Olympics’ multiculturalism as a façade that both showed Germany as a reformed nation and hid the darker side of the Third Reich.