The small sporting giant.

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The Netherlands although densely populated it is one of the smallest countries on earth. Currently the population is close to 17 Millions. Although it is a small nation when it comes to sports it has punched way above its weight for decades.

Leaving aside the recent disappointing performances by the national football team, tean Netherlands managed to have finalists in most of the major sporting events. Below are just some examples.

Fifa world cup finals 1974 against Germany;1978 against Argentina and 2010 against Spain.. Although the Dutch never won the world cup, 3 times they got to the finals. Several other times they ended in the semi finals in in 2014 they came 3rd.

UEFA European cup 1988. In 1988 they beat the Soviet Union in the European Cup finals.

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Wimbledon, the most prestigious Tennis tournament and most coveted tournament to for players, had a Dutch winner in 1996. Richard Krajicek beat Malivai Washington. Even a female streaker did not deter him from winning the price.

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Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championship

Tour de France, although with all the scandals the shine has gone of it a bit, it is still considered THE cycling event. In 1968 Jan Janssen won the tour,This was repeated in 1980 by Joop Zoetemelk.

In  May 2017 a cyclist from Maastricht won the Giro D’Italia another great cycling event.On the 27th of May 2017, Tom DuMoulin managed to keep on to the pink jersey, making him the winners of Giro 2017.

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During the 26 summer Olympic games the Dutch have anticipated in they have won 285 medals. 85 Gold, 92 Silver and 108 Bronze.However it is during the Winter games where the Dutch show what they are made of, In the 46 games they partook in they managed to accumulate 395 medals 122 Gold, 130 Silver and 143 Bronze.

Not bad for a small nation, not bad at all.

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The Violent Water Polo Match

Water polo is not really known to be a violent sport .However today 60 years ago during the 1956 Melbourne Olympic games a Water polo match between Hungary and the Soviet Unions nearly resembled a world was 2 sea battle.

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The “Blood in the Water” match was a water polo match between Hungary and the USSR at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. The match took place on 6 December 1956 against the background of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, and saw Hungary defeat the USSR 4–0. The name was coined after Hungarian player Ervin Zádor emerged during the last two minutes with blood pouring from above his eye after being punched by Soviet player Valentin Prokopov

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In the morning before the start, the Hungarians had created a strategy to taunt the Russians, whose language they had studied in school. In the words of Ervin Zádor: “We had decided to try and make the Russians angry to distract them.”

From the beginning, kicks and punches were exchanged. At one point, a punch thrown by Hungarian captain Dezső Gyarmati was caught on film.Meanwhile, Zádor scored two goals to the crowd’s cheers of Hajrá Magyarok! (“Go Hungarians!”).

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By the final minutes of the match, Hungary was leading 4–0. Zádor was marking Valentin Prokopov, with whom he had already exchanged words. Prokopov struck him, causing a bleeding gash. Zádor left the pool and his bleeding was the final straw for a crowd already in frenzy. Many angry spectators jumped onto the concourse beside the water, shook their fists, shouted abuse and spat at the Russians.To avoid a riot, police entered the arena and shepherded the crowd away. One minute of the match remained.

Pictures of Zádor’s injuries were published around the world, leading to the “Blood in the Water” moniker. Reports that the water in the pool turned red were, however, an exaggeration. Zádor said his only thought was whether he would be able to play the next match.

Hungary was declared the winner since they had been leading and then beat Yugoslavia 2–1 in the final to win their fourth Olympic gold medal. Zádor’s injury would force him to miss the match. After the event was completed, he and some of his team-mates sought asylum in the West, rather than returning to live in a Hungary under a firmly pro-Soviet regimE

Unusual WWII Facts-Part 11

The 1940 Summer Olympics had officially been scheduled be held from 21 September to 6 October 1940, in Tokyo, Japan, but were cancelled due to the outbreak of World War II.

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Staying in the Olympic theme.The 1940 Winter Olympic games were also planned to be in hosted in Japan ,in Sapporo. But the Japanese organisers withdrew in 1938 because of the Second Sino-Japanese War.

The IOC tne  decided to give the Winter Olympics to St. Moritz, Switzerland. There were some problems between the Swiss organisers and the IOC so the Games were cancelled again. The IOC then gave the 1940 Winter Olympics to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. Garmisch-Partenkirchen had hosted the 1936 Winter Olympics. The Games were to be held from February 2 – 11 1940.

The games were cancelled because of World War II.

Stalag Luft III

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Stalag Luft III was a Nazi POW camp, mostly for allied airmen who’d been shot down and taken captive. However, these airmen were very crafty and over 600 had helped to organize an escape committee, which secretly began to dig tunnels and make plans. On March 24th, 1944, the plan was executed, but from the start, everything went wrong. Only 77 men managed to get into the escape tunnels, and were soon discovered. Of the 77, only 3 managed to get to safety. 50 escapees were executed by the orders of Hitler. This escape attempt was made into a 1963 film, “The Great Escape”.

Bat Man

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Bat-Man Paratroopers – 1942

On the United States home front, particularly on the Pacific coast where the threat of a Japanese invasion seemed imminent, even a military expert’s creative juices could take a curious turn. Such was the case for the California State Guard and Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson, who dreamed up the idea of “bat-man”paratroopers.

The major’s concept of paratroopers using jump suits modified with bat-like “diving wings” was inspired by the trick parachuting stunts of American entertainers. Nicholson had observed that in free fall, sky divers using these wings were able to better control their speed and descent as well as their maneuverability before opening the their parachutes.

Nicholson envisioned winged paratroopers evading enemy fire by swooping through the air like their namesakes. In 1942, the California State Guard found the notion so intriguing, they asked famed jumper Mickey Morgan—whose career often included testing wingsuits—to head a bat-man paratrooper unit of their own.

President Roosevelt used Al Capone’s Limousine

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On the day of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Secret Service realized they did not have a have a bulletproof car to transport President Roosevelt safely to Congress to deliver his Infamy Speech. A quick thinking Secret Service agent realized that the U.S. Treasury had seized the bulletproof limo of Al Capone in 1931.

The car was still in working condition and safely transported the president to Congress. President Roosevelt reportedly quipped, “I hope Mr. Capone won’t mind.

Queen Wilhelmina.

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Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands becomes the first reigning queen to address a joint session of the United States Congress, on the 6th of August 1942.

 

The SS ran a brothel named “The Kitty Salon,” that was frequented by foreign diplomats. They gathered intelligence by wiretapping it and training the prostitutes on how to get information from clients.

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Holocaust

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Even after the Allies arrived, many concentration camp prisoners were beyond help. In Bergen-Belsen, for example, 13,000 prisoners died after liberation. Nearly 2,500 of the 33,000 survivors of Dachau died within six weeks of liberation.

Approximately 600,000 Jews served in the United States armed forces during WWII. More than 35,000 were killed, wounded, captured, or missing. Approximately 8,000 died in combat. However, only two Jewish soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor in WWII.

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Ben L. Salomon

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The 3rd Jewish soldier who got awarded a Medal of Honor was Ben L.Salomon, but it was only awarded to him in 2002.

Medal of Honor citation

CAPTAIN BEN L. SALOMON
UNITED STATES ARMY

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:

Captain Ben L. Salomon was serving at Saipan, in the Marianas Islands on July 7, 1944, as the Surgeon for the 2nd Battalion, 105th Infantry Regiment, 27th Infantry Division. The Regiment’s 1st and 2d Battalions were attacked by an overwhelming force estimated between 3,000 and 5,000 Japanese soldiers. It was one of the largest attacks attempted in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Although both units fought furiously, the enemy soon penetrated the Battalions’ combined perimeter and inflicted overwhelming casualties. In the first minutes of the attack, approximately 30 wounded soldiers walked, crawled, or were carried into Captain Salomon’s aid station, and the small tent soon filled with wounded men. As the perimeter began to be overrun, it became increasingly difficult for Captain Salomon to work on the wounded. He then saw a Japanese soldier bayoneting one of the wounded soldiers lying near the tent. Firing from a squatting position, Captain Salomon quickly killed the enemy soldier. Then, as he turned his attention back to the wounded, two more Japanese soldiers appeared in the front entrance of the tent. As these enemy soldiers were killed, four more crawled under the tent walls. Rushing them, Captain Salomon kicked the knife out of the hand of one, shot another, and bayoneted a third. Captain Salomon butted the fourth enemy soldier in the stomach and a wounded comrade then shot and killed the enemy soldier. Realizing the gravity of the situation, Captain Salomon ordered the wounded to make their way as best they could back to the regimental aid station, while he attempted to hold off the enemy until they were clear. Captain Salomon then grabbed a rifle from one of the wounded and rushed out of the tent. After four men were killed while manning a machine gun, Captain Salomon took control of it. When his body was later found, 98 dead enemy soldiers were piled in front of his position. Captain Salomon’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

By the way, he was a dentist.

1936 Summer Olympics Berlin-Sports or Politics?

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I am amazed that people are still surprised at the actions of the IOC, This year it was widely expected that Russia would be banned from the Rio Olympics due to doping scandal surrounding their athletes and the cover up of the Russian Olympic Committee.

The only thing the IOC is interested in is the IOC, this has been proven throughout history. Just think back to the 1972 Munich Olympic games where 11 Jewish athletes and officials were massacred. rather than stopping the games the IOC left it go on as if nothing happened.

It was clearest of all during the 1936 Olympic games that the IOC is nothing but a political entity.

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The 1936 Summer Olympic games in Berlin still serves as the template for the modern games.

The Summer Olympic Games serve as a grand podium for the belief that a nation’s best athletes can bolster its sense of pride and honor for another four years—setting the stage for real-world superheroes who defy the odds and challenge the capabilities of the human body. It’s a tradition the globe is unlikely to kick.

But 80 years ago, when the Summer Olympics opened on Aug. 1, 1936, in Berlin, that creed nearly crumbled. That year, it became increasingly clear that Germany only wanted to see its superheroes in one light: the stars of the Aryan race, superior for their genetic makeup rather than their athleticism. It provided Hitler with a showcase,It was a propaganda bonanza for him.

United States Olympic Committee president Avery Brundage became a main supporter of the Games being held in Germany, arguing that “politics has no place in sport”, despite having initial doubts. Later Brundage requested that a system be established to examine female athletes for what Time magazine called “sex ambiguities” after observing the performance of Czechoslovak runner and jumper Zdenka Koubkova and English shotputter and javelin thrower Mary Edith Louise Weston. (Both individuals later had sex change surgery and legally changed their names to Zdenek Koubek and Mark Weston.).

Despite not coming from a fascist country, French Olympians gave what appeared to be the Roman salute at the opening ceremony, although some have later claimed that they were just performing the Olympic salute, which was in fact a very similar action.

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Although Haiti only attended the opening ceremony, an interesting vexillological fact was noticed: its flag and the flag of Liechtenstein were coincidentally identical, and this was not discovered until then. The following year, a crown was added to Liechtenstein’s to distinguish one flag from the other.

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American sprinters Sam Stoller and Marty Glickman, the only two Jews on the U.S. Olympic team, were pulled from the 4 × 100 relay team on the day of the competition, leading to speculation that U.S. Olympic committee leader Brundage did not want to add to Hitler’s embarrassment by having two Jews win gold medals.

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The German Olympic committee, in accordance with Nazi directives, virtually barred Germans who were Jewish or Roma or had such an ancestry from participating in the Games . This decision meant exclusion for many of the country’s top athletes such as shotputter and discus thrower Lilli Henoch, who was a four-time world record holder and 10-time German national champion,[and Gretel Bergmann who was suspended from the German team just days after she set a record of 1.60 meters in the high jump.The only Jewish athlete to compete for Germany was Helene Mayer , a member of the fencing team. She was a ‘token Jew’ to show the world that Germany was an ‘inclusive’ society.

Helene Mayer

During the Games, Hauptmann Wolfgang Fürstner, the commandant of the Olympic Village in Wustermark, was abruptly replaced by Oberstleutnant Werner von Gilsa, commander of the Berlin Guard-Regiment.

The official reason given by the Nazis was because Fürstner had not acted “with the necessary energy” after 370,000 visitors had passed through the village – between 1 May to 15 June – causing significant damage to the site. However this reason was just a pretext to disparaging the half-Jewish officer and expediting his removal Fürstner committed suicide shortly after the conclusion of the Berlin Olympics because he learned the Nuremberg Laws classified him as a Jew. As such, the career officer was to be expelled from the Wehrmacht.

Individual Jewish athletes from a number of countries chose to boycott the Berlin Olympics, including South African Sid Kiel, and Americans Milton Green and Norman Cahners. In the United States, the American Jewish Congress and the Jewish Labor Committee supported a boycott.

Some athletes and Olympics organizers in the United States and Europe considered pulling out of the Olympics altogether to compete elsewhere. The debate on whether to pull out on the American end was particularly heated, as the boycott began with the U.S. team. Avery Brundage, then the president of the American Olympic Committee, opposed a boycott, arguing that “the Olympic Games belong to the athletes and not to the politicians.

Some academics, including Burstin, now believe that Brundage was complicit in the Nazi’s anti-Semitism in the Olympics, and that he even attempted to paint American Jews as unpatriotic and misguided for supporting a boycott. Meanwhile, the Nazis, seeing the negative reaction to what was supposed to be a great moment for Germany, temporarily took down anti-Jewish propaganda and did what they could to clean up Germany’s image prior to the games. In the end, the U.S. would send several Jewish athletes to the games, and many journalists covered the games with a degree of positivity, with TIME reporting in 1936 that most newspapers focused on “the ceremonious procession” of the Olympics’ first modern Torch Relay rather than “other doings in Berlin.”

Though Hitler’s attempt to see Aryan athletes triumph was not a complete success—most famously due to the medal sweep brought by U.S. track star Jesse Owens. Jesse Owens won four gold medals in the sprint and long jump events. His German competitor Luz Long offered Owens advice after he almost failed to qualify in the long jump and was posthumously awarded the Pierre de Coubertin medal for sportsmanshipGerman athletes did walk away with the most Olympic medals.

Germany had a prosperous year in the equestrian events, winning individual and team gold in all three disciplines, as well as individual silver in dressage. In the cycling match sprint finals, the German Toni Merkens fouled Arie van Vliet of the Netherlands. Instead of being disqualified, he was fined 100 marks and kept his gold. German gymnasts Konrad Frey and Alfred Schwarzmannboth won three gold medals.

 Rank Nation Gold Silver Bronze Total
1 Germany (host nation) 33 26 30 89
2 United States 24 20 12 56
3 Hungary 10 1 5 16
4 Italy 8 9 5 22
5 Finland 7 6 6 19
France 7 6 6 19
7 Sweden 6 5 9 20
8 Japan 6 4 8 18
9 Netherlands 6 4 7 17
10 Great Britain 4 7 3 14

Some thought the games showed Germany had successfully crawled out of the economic ditch it had fallen into post-WWI, and had ultimately acted as a great host.

Many Jewish athletes who either competed in the Olympics prior to 1936 or the 1936 Olympics itself would die in concentration camps during the Holocaust. Among them were Ilja Szraibman, a Polish swimmer and Roman Kantor, a Polish fencer, both of whom competed in 1936 and later died in Majdanek.

Notably, Alfred Nakache, a French swimmer who competed in the 1936 games, would also compete in the 1948 Olympic Games in London after surviving Auschwitz.

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Even after Germany had annexed Austria and occupied Czechoslovakia, the IOC still scheduled the Winter Olympics to be held in Garmisch Partenkirchen in Bavaria.It was eventually held in St Moritz,Switzerland.

I have to be honest , I do enjoy the spectacle which is the Olympic Games. But I am under no illusion that it is politics with the veneer of sports.