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Berlin Games: How the Nazis Stole the Olympic Games [Paperback]

Guy Walters
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

1 Aug 2007

THE 1936 Berlin Olympics brought together athletes, politicians,
socialites, diplomats, journalists, soldiers, novelists and artists from
all over the world. They convened in the heart of the German Reich in
grandstands and glittering parties, unaware that on their next encounter
they would be brandishing machine guns.
Behind the scenes, the Berlin Olympics were a crucible of the world's
discord, a dress rehearsal of the horrors of the forthcoming conflict.
Hitler had secretly determined that the Games would showcase Nazi prowess
and, when they arrived in Berlin, the unwitting athletes found themselves
to be helpless pawns in his sinister political game.
From the remarkable tableau of the Games themselves, Walters stretches the
story across a broad canvas, placing those two crucial weeks in the wider
context of the 1930s. With brilliant narrative flair he brings a wide cast
of characters and a complex political backdrop thrillingly alive and casts
new light on a momentous yet little explored set piece of Nazi history.

Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (1 Aug 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060874139
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060874131
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 14.1 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,513,725 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Guy Walters is the author and editor of nine books, which include four wartime thrillers, the critically acclaimed Berlin Games and his latest work, Hunting Evil. With James Owen he co-edited The Voice of War, an anthology of Second World War memoirs. Shortlisted for the 2006 William Hill Sports Book of the Year and the NASSS's 2007 Outstanding Book award, Guy has been an author since he left The Times of London, where he was a feature writer and a commissioning editor.
His books have been translated into several languages, and Hunting Evil has been and will be released in the UK, the USA, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Holland, France, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Denmark, Poland and Romania.
Guy writes for a handful of UK newspapers and magazines, and is a frequent contributor to the Jeremy Vine show on BBC Radio 2. He regularly gives talks to societies up and down the country. When he finds the time, Guy is currently working on his PhD at Newcastle University under the supervision of Professor Tim Kirk.
His wife, Annabel Venning, is also an author, and they live in Wiltshire in the southwest of England with their two children, William, 7, and Alice, 5. In his spare time, he is a keen player of croquet and pétanque. Further biographical information (most of it correct) can be found on the wikipedia.

Product Description


A book of range and quality... -- The Times Literary Supplement

A complex and engaging account..demonstrating an impressive and
well-controlled sense of scope. -- Publishers Weekly

This terrific account illuminates the process of appeasement on a
human scale...a gripping account of the games themselves. -- The Sunday Times

Walters has a newspaperman's nose for sniffing out extraordinary
stories to flesh out the political context of these outrageous Olympics. -- The Birmingham Post

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars chaucerian tale 29 Jun 2007
great fun. a truly chaucerian tale of the powerfull,the rich, and the not so rich all pushing and shoving to be part of "the eleventh olimpiad of the modern age".of course the nazis were determined to stick a swastika over the olympic rings therefore,the end result has to be viewed with aushwitz as a backdrop.this book will appeal to both the sporting and political historian. i cannot recommend it enough.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.5 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Chronicle of Hypocrisy 1 Dec 2007
By Mr. Truthteller - Published on
This book is an interesting, and long overdue, chronicle of not just the 1936 Olympic Games themselves (held in Hitler's Germany) but also of the many machinations that went on behind the scenes to ensure that the Games would be held despite the Nazis' treatment of the Jews and others considered to be undesirable.

Thus, despite the fact that the Nazis had passed the Nuremberg Laws in 1935 (forbidding, e.g., marriage or sexual relations between Jews and Germans), the International Olympic Committee worked with the Nazis to ensure that the games went on and colloborated in pretending that there was no actual discrimination.

In this regard, placed in a particularly bad light are American sports officials who more often than not were guilty of racism, prejudice, and anti-Semitism against their own citizens. (E.g., much to do was made in the American press about the (apparently false) story that Hitler snubbed Jesse Owens by refusing to shake his hand, yet Jesse Owens came home to a country whose citizens as a whole treated him worse than the Germans he dealt with during the Olympics.)

In the end, however, despite all the much-deserved hoopla about Jesse Owens, the real winners of the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games were the Nazis as they impressed the world with their efficiency (a record number of countries, over 4 dozen, participated in the Games) and the Games were a propaganda bonanza for them. For example, the Nazis instituted the practice of carrying the Olympic torch from Olympia to the site of the games, an event which they heavily publicised. In addition, their organization of the Games was impeccable (including premier housing for the athletes), their Olympic Stadium (holding over 100,000 spectators) was a monumental showpiece, and the Games even turned a profit. In this respect, perhaps the most telling moment of the Games was the opening ceremonies when the speaker's podium was decorated not just with the familiar Olympic symbol of five interlocking Olympic rings but a giant German eagle clutching the Olympic rings in its talons.

Interspersed within the story of the politics surrounding these Olympics is a treasure trove of information about the background of many of the athletes (including their personal prejudices) and the events at these Games.

Overall, the book is a very well written and interesting account of the 1936 Olympic Games that exposes much of the hyprocrisy that allowed them to go on after the Nazis came to power and also reveals much about many of the athletes who participated in the Games.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Documents Don't Lie, People Do 1 Dec 2006
By Best Of All - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin was a watershed moment for sports and politics, with its ramifications rippling through history some 70 years later.

Author Guy Walters does impeccible research of documents and individuals to bring a complete picture of how the Nazi Party virtually took over the International Olympic movement as it set the stage for war. Though the Games were awarded to Germany before the Nazi Party took full control of the government and Hitler was initially not in favor of holding the event, the benefits from a propoganda machine operating from every home to each Olympic venue became too great to pass up.

Though athletic officials and politicians knew about the growing oppression in Germany, Walters uses documents and quotes culled from meetings to show the utter appeasement that occurred. For example, American sports official Avery Brundage had written that Hitler was "a god," and then did everything in his power to successfully discredit and destroy the movement in the U.S. to boycott the competition.

Brundage did not see anything wrong with the Nazi ideal, but he did deal harshly with a top female swimmer on the U.S. team. She was kicked off the squad due to her partying on the ocean liner that was taking the team to Europe.

There were athletes who wanted to use the world stage to destroy the myths surrounding the Nazi movement. A German wrestler - who was a member of the Communist Party - hoped to parlay a winning performance by refusing to give the Nazi salute on the medal stand and use a live-radio interview as a means to tell the world about the real Germany.

There were other athletes who used the Olympics for different goals. A South African boxer was so taken with the Nazi Party that he was later recruited as a spy and became part of a plot to assassinate the president of his nation.

Add in the dress-rehearsal for the summer competition, the 1936 Winter Games in Bavaria, the reoccupation of the Rhineland and legendary athletes like Jesse Owens and Ralph Metcalfe, the Berlin Games was a backdrop to the excellence of competition and the viciousness of totalitarianism.

And in the end, Walters rips apart the screen that so many toadies of the Nazi Party had hid behind for too many years.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Politics and the Berlin Games of 1936. 21 April 2008
By Kevin M Quigg - Published on
Very relevant as the world looks to Beijing in 2008. In 1936, the Nazis hosted both the Winter and Summer Olympic Games in Germany. The Nazis used the politics of the Olympic Games to glorify the new Germany. Walters depicts how the Nazis hid the discrimination of the Jews, the political oppression of its opponents, the economic misery, and the military domination to give the world a false picture of the new Germany. Many informed people were not fooled, and told the world that this picture was false. A boycott movement was formed, but the majority of governments chose to look the other way and participate in the games. The games did indeed glorify the German government. Three years later, the World was at War, and the Holocaust began.

Walters summarizes the complete details of these Olympics with all the world politics thrown in. The Nazis lying and barbarous methods are detailed in the selection of German athletes and the politics of holding the Games. It is a wonder so many people were fooled by the methods of this regime. A good read and very relevant today.
4 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I'm sorry to go against the consensus opinion 16 Jan 2009
By Neurofox - Published on
But I must. Maybe it is a personal bias, but I can't stand sensationalism with no redeeming qualities. Everything said in this book has been said many times before (see the "related works" on this very page), but the authors find a way to muddle things up in a very negative way. Aims at the lowest instincts of man. Of course, this is the modus operandi of the author which becomes clear if you consider his other works.
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