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Tag: accurate history

How to annoy Hitler

Photograph of Jesse Owens (306-PSE-80-746)

Photograph of Jesse Owens (306-PSE-80-746)

Each of the German victories, and there were a surprising number of these, made [Adolf Hitler] happy, but he was highly annoyed by the series of triumphs by the marvelous colored American runner, Jesse Owens. People whose antecedents came from the jungle were primitive, Hitler said with a shrug; their physiques were stronger than those of civilized whites and hence should be excluded from future games.
—Albert Speer Inside the Third Reich

Jesse Owens was the son of a sharecropper and the grandson of slaves. After winning four gold medals and embarrassing Adolf Hitler in Berlin, FDR would not call him to congratulate him, nor would Truman. But for a moment in history, the racism that pervaded in the United States fell behind the Olympian as he ran for glory for the Stars and Stripes.

Owens made history well before 1936. In 1935, his reputation was established as one of the greatest runners in history. In the span of 45 minutes and suffering from a back injury, the African American runner set three world records and tied a fourth at a track meet in Ann Arbor, MI. He was a sophomore in college.

On August 2, the first day of competition at the 1936 games, Germany took its first gold in the shot put—its first in the modern games. Hitler … [ Read all ]