The Olympic Games of 1936 were allocated to Germany in 1932 before Hitler came to power. Their organisation was assigned to Dr Theodor Lewald, President of the German Olympic Committee and half-Jewish. At first Hitler saw the Olympic Games as a Jewish-run spectacle and it was Goebbels who finally convinced him that they would be great publicity for the new regime.
Everything was organised to perfection. Foreign visitors saw a dazzlingly decorated Berlin. All anti-Semitic signs were removed; Julius Streicher’s infamous publication, ‘Stürmer’, was removed from newsagents. Even books by authors banned as ‘degenerated’ (entartet) could be bought again.
The Games themselves were brilliantly organised, although Hitler refused to shake hands with ‘non-Aryan’ medallists, including the Jewish fencer Helene Mayer, who had been asked to return from New York to represent her former country.
The propaganda campaign was successful. Foreign visitors, including many prominent politicians, actually believed Hitler’s peaceful intentions. They were being deceived. The youth of the world would not meet four years later at the Olympics in Tokyo, but on the battlefields.