The 1936 Olympics changed the world. Never before had the Olympics been so elaborate. Never before had the games been so ostentatious. Never before had the games been so controversial. The Nazis took the world’s biggest sporting event and turned it into a propaganda fest. This docu-drama tells the stories of the people who shaped those games. Their dreams. Their destinies. And their truths.
There’s German track and field champion, Gretel Bergmann, who was living in England after being expelled from her club for being Jewish. But when she became too high profile there and started winning competitions, the German government needed her to portray the nation as unbiased in its Olympic-team selections. So members of her family who had remained behind, were threatened with reprisals if she did not return. She complied and was allowed to prepare for the Olympic Games – only to be thrown off the team two weeks before the Games started.
Wolf-Heinnrich Graf von Helldorff, Berlin’s Chief of Police, would later be remembered for his role in the resistance and in trying to topple Hitler’s regime. But he was also a violent anti-semitic, dedicated to the eradication of the Jews. During the games, he was forced to welcome Jews from other countries into his city.
And finally, there’s Wolfgang Fürstner, Commander of the Olympic Village, who killed himself three days after the Games ended. Why?
On the other side were those who did not fit in and were not allowed to be a part of the event, who were excluded (and later eliminated). The regime desired that this fundamental principle – placing the participants on a pedestal and excluding the outcasts – was to exist for the 1936 Games too, despite it going completely against the Olympic spirit. It was a fundamental contradiction that confronted the games’ organizers and participants with deep conflicts and decisions. The Film revises the traditional image of the 1936 Olympic Games, which were decisively shaped by Leni Riefenstahl’s pompous Nazi aesthetic. Instead, the event is firmly recounted from the inside perspective – from the views of the people who participated in those Games.
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