chapter  Chapter 6
17 Pages

Internationalism and nationalism at the Olympics

ByJohn Horne, Garry Whannel

The 1936 Games became notorious as the 'Nazi Olympics', and in the Cold War era the Games became a symbolic battleground between East and West, communism and capitalism. This chapter examines the inherent contradictions between internationalism and national organization and outlines the development and management of political tensions by the Olympic movement. During the 1930s, the period of the Popular Front, uniting communist and socialist parties across Europe, was unable to halt the rise of fascism and Nazism, and just a year after the Antwerp Workers' Olympics of 1937, effectively the last one, Hitler's German troops marched into Austria. Although nationalism was already written into Olympic ritual, the 1936 Games, which became notorious as the 'Nazi Olympics', elevated the foregrounding of national power to a dramatic new level. The 1936 Games constituted the moment when the aspirations of Olympism for internationalism and peace were forced, dramatically, to confront the realities of national power and its associated symbolism.