The 1936 Winter Olympics, officially known as the IV Olympic Winter Games , were a winter multi-sport event which was celebrated in 1936 in the market town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Bavaria, Germany. Germany also hosted the Summer Olympics the same year in Berlin. 1936 is the last year in which the Summer and Winter Games were both held in the same country (the cancelled 1940 games would have been held in Japan, with that country likewise hosting the Winter and Summer games).
Like the 1936 Summer Games the February Winter Games were highly political.
The 1936 Winter Olympics were organized on behalf of the German League of the Reich for Physical Exercise (DRL) by Karl Ritter von Halt. Von Halt had been named President of the Committee for the organization of the Fourth Winter Olympics in Garmisch-Partenkirchen by Reichssportführer Hans von Tschammer und Osten.
Nine months before the games were scheduled to begin, discrimination against the Jewish population had become so widespread that the head of the organizing committee, Karl Ritter von Halt, became alarmed and voiced his concerns in a letter to the Interior Ministry in Berlin. Halt emphasized that he didn’t want to be misunderstood — “I am not expressing my concerns in order to help the Jews” — but wrote that “if the propaganda is continued in this form, the population of Garmisch-Partenkirchen will be so inflamed that it will indiscriminately attack and injure anyone who even looks Jewish.”
The Jew-baiting in the Alpine idyll did not go unnoticed abroad. An English reporter who had traveled to the Werdenfelser Land region in advance of the games photographed the Partenkirchen Ski Club’s clubhouse, where a sign reading “No Jews Allowed Here!” was posted on the wall. The image circled the globe.
A boycott movement had already been formed in the United States. Organizing committee chief Karl Ritter von Halt was worried that the entire German Olympic project could fail. “If the slightest disturbance occurs in Garmisch-Partenkirchen — this is something which we are all well aware of — it will be not be possible to hold the Olympic Games in Berlin, because all other nations will then withdraw from the event.”
When IOC president Henri de Baillet-Latourwas traveling to Garmisch to see the Games, he was astonished to see roadsigns en route declaring )Dogs and Jews not allowed).
Baillet-Latour requested an audience with Der Führer and demanded that the signs be taken down. Hitler replied that he thought it usual, when a guest entered a person’s home, that the guest followed the wishes of the host. Baillet-Latour responded that when the flag of Olympia flies over the area, he became the host and Hitler was only the invited guest. Hitler acquiesced and had the signs removed.
But the Games were still highly political, though not as much as the Berlin Summer games few months later.
At the opening ceremony, OCOG President ,Karl Ritter von Halt, stated”We Germans want to show the world that, faithful to the order of our Führer and federal Chancellor , we can put on an Olympic Games that will be a true festival of peace and sincere understanding among peoples”. Perhaps, but the German team included only one Jewish athlete.,Rudi Ball, who was a member of the German ice hockey team.
In 1936, because he was Jewish, Ball (the 25-year-old captain) was initially overlooked for selection in the German ice hockey team. His good friend and teammate, Gustav Jaenecke, refused to play unless Ball was included. Ball also believed a deal could be struck to save his family in Germany if he returned to play in the games.The German selectors also realized that without Ball and Jaenecke the team would not stand a chance of winning. Another factor was that the Nazi party could not overlook the fact that Ball was without doubt one of the leading athletes in his sport. With much controversy Ball was included in the German team to play at the 1936 Olympic games. One report of the time proposed that Ball was playing against his will.The deal for Ball’s family to leave Germany was also agreed. After Ball was injured, the Germans took 5th place in the Olympic tournament. Ball played four matches and scored two goals.
The 1936 Olympic Winter Games were notable for the introduction of Alpine skiing events.
Great Britain upset 1932 gold medalists Canada in ice hockey when Edgar Brenchley scored the winning goal within the last ninety seconds.