- Participating nations: 49
- Number of athletes: 4,066 (3,738 men - 328 women)
- Time of year: August 1-16
- Number of events: 129
The Games in Berlin were obviously meant to show the power of the Third Reich and how well Germany had recovered from World War I. It was now becoming a great power, not only in the field of sports. The Olympics were also going to be a display of German organizational skills. All of these goals were realized, even though some of the people on location in Berlin sent back reports that were not as enthusiastic. This is what a British journalist wrote in his final comment on Berlin 1936:
“I hope that a world festival of sports will never again take place in a country where the prevalent atmosphere becomes so repulsive, chauvinistic and military".
Before the Games, Hitler tried to ban Jewish athletes from competing on the German team. His idea never came to fruition after the IOC had threatened to move the Games.
Despite the fact that swastika flags were flying and that men in uniforms dominated the Olympic stadium, and the rest of Berlin, the Games were very successful in attracting a large audience and many tourists.
16,000 Swedish Tourists16,000 people left Sweden for Berlin in order to experience the Games on location. All the positive aspects of the Games in Los Angeles were probably partly responsible for creating this appeal.
49 countries came to the Games, represented by 4000 athletes. The Swedish team was large - 150 athletes. On top of this, Sweden sent two gymnastic teams, each consisting of 600 gymnasts, which were going to participate in gymnastic displays for men and women. The Swedish troops got a lot of attention, but their presence had been debated.
During a board meeting, the Swedish Olympic Committee (SOC) had made a very negative statement about sending the gymnastic teams.
A year before the Games the board concluded, after a heated discussion that “the SOC was in no way responsible for the gymnasts. They will receive no pecuniary support, will not be members of the Olympic team and may not stay in the Olympic village".
The original thought for the Olympic Village was to use the officers´ barracks in Döberitz, but they only had 280 rooms, which was obviously not enough. So, in 1933 a decision was made to build an entirely new village for 3,500 people. The village was an enormous success with comfortable rooms, both hot and cold water and excellent training facilities. Women were still not allowed to enter the village, they had to stay somewhere else. The SOC officials lived outside the village too for some reason, perhaps because of lack of space.
A new addition to life in the Olympic Village was the grand reception each nation got when they arrived in the Olympic Village. Their flag was hoisted and their national anthem was played, a tradition that is alive to this day.
The SOC preparations for Berlin were, as usual, carefully described in the protocols. The Olympic Federations (there were17 of them) received 158,000 crowns for their preparations. Handball, which was on the program for the first time, got 1,200 crowns and walking, which now had its own federation, received 180 crowns, but 2,800 was added later.
The SOC emblem was also born at around this time. In 1934, it was decided at a working committee meeting that the SOC should have its own emblem. There were many suggestions but they decided on the emblem which is still used today. Just to be on the safe side the SOC asked the National Herald Board for permission to use the three crowns, an old Swedish symbol. The Board took a long time to decide and the approval didn´t come through until two years later, in April 1936. In August the SOC decided to order stitch-on patches and print stationery with the new emblem.
The Games in Berlin went on during August 1-16, and the more than three million spectators bought over four million tickets for the different events. The Olympic stadium, which could take 100,000 people, was constantly full.
For the first time in Olympic history, the Olympic torch was carried from Olympia in Greece to the Host City by means of a relay race. This is a tradition which still lives on today, mainly because of the setting given to the flame when it arrived in Berlin.
Live radio broadcasts and television broadcasts, to a limited extent, made their first appearance during these Games. The interest from the media was enormous and the organizers had to work out quotas for the press. Sweden got 20 seats, but the Swedish newspapers were willing to pay extra for additional seats.
What about the competitions? Well, 19 sports and art was on the program. Basketball, canoeing and handball were new additions.
21 Swedish MedalsSweden was able to take home 21 medals, six gold, five silver and ten bronze medals. Sweden took fifth place in the ranking of all the nations.
The Swedish wrestling success story continued and the wrestlers became the most successful Olympians with four gold, three silver and two bronze medals. The hero from Los Angeles, Ivar Johansson took his third gold. It was only one gold this time since he only competed in one class.
In the pistol shooting, Torsten Ullman made quite a performance. Not only did he win by a 15-point margin and beat the world record with his 559 points, he did so while suffering from food poisoning. To make things worse, he also had a boil on the finger he used to pull the trigger. These things should have put him out of the competition. Ullman took care of the finger problem by operating on himself with a penknife.
In modern pentathlon, the typically Swedish event, Sweden didn´t take any of the medals, which was a great disappointment to the Swedish people. Sven Thofelt, the gold medallist from Amsterdam in 1928, had to settle for fourth place, just as he had done in Los Angeles in 1932.
The athletic events produced two Swedish medals. Henry “Kälarne" Jonsson took the bronze in the 5,000 meters and Fred Warngård did the same in the hammer throw. But we also recognize many other well-known Swedish athletes. Lennart Strandberg took sixth place in the 100 m final after having pulled a thigh muscle, and Håkan Lidman took fourth place in the 110 m hurdles.
The canoeists made an honorable Olympic debut by taking one gold and one bronze medal.
Jesse Owens - King of the GamesThe most prominent athlete during the Games was American Jesse Owens. He won four gold medals in athletics. He won the 100 m, the 200 m, the 4x100 m relay and the long jump.
The year before the Games in Berlin, Owens had jumped 8,13 meters, which was, of course, a world record. In the Olympic final he jumped 8,06 meters in his last attempt. These are jumps that could just as well have been made at one of the large athletics competitions of today, which says a lot about this great athlete.
The Japanese had humiliated their American hosts in Los Angeles by totally dominating the swimming competitions in 1932.
This time the United States had concentrated on swimming in order to get their revenge. They did a lot better than they had in 1932, but Japan was still able to call itself the swimming nation of the world after the Games in Berlin.
So, how did it go for Germany, the host country that had made such an effort in preparation for the Games? They were successful and became the number one nation, far ahead of the United States, but they were not as successful as they had hoped for in athletics. Instead, they got a few medals here and there, which revealed the impressive breadth of German sports.
Japanese, Japanese, JapaneseFrom a Swedish perspective, the most memorable thing is Sven Jerring´s classical running commentary of the Olympic football tournament and the game between Sweden and Japan. The Swedish team had big hopes for the tournament and was also pleased with how the lots had been drawn. And everything started so well against Japan; Sweden led by 2-0 at half time. But the Japanese fought back and won by 3-2 and Sven Jerring´s words “Japanese, Japanese, Japanese" have since become a part of the history of Swedish sports.