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1936 Winter Olympics

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IV Olympic Winter Games
Logo of the 1936 Winter Olympics[a]
Host cityGarmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
Athletes646 (566 men, 80 women)
Events17 in 4 sports (8 disciplines)
Opening6 February 1936
Closing16 February 1936
Opened by
StadiumGroße Olympiaschanze

The 1936 Winter Olympics, officially known as the IV Olympic Winter Games (German: IV. Olympische Winterspiele) and commonly known as Garmisch-Partenkirchen 1936 (Bavarian: Garmasch-Partakurch 1936), were a winter multi-sport event held from 6 to 16 February 1936 in the market town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. The country also hosted the 1936 Summer Olympics, which were held in Berlin. It was the last year in which the Summer and Winter Games both took place in the same country (the cancelled 1940 Olympics would have been held in Japan, with Tokyo hosting the Summer Games and Sapporo hosting the Winter Games).

The 1936 Winter Games were organized on behalf of the German League of the Reich for Physical Exercise (DRL) by Karl Ritter von Halt, who 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.

Organization and politics


While the 1936 Summer Olympics held in Berlin months later have attracted extensive examination for the Nazi Party's spectacles and the accompanying racial controversies – including the exclusion of most Jewish athletes and Jesse Owens's achievements – the Winter Games took place five months earlier and saw some of the same efforts by Adolf Hitler's propaganda machine.

Globally, there had been efforts to initiate boycotts from different countries, and a number of Jewish athletes faced pressure not to participate in an event held in a nation ruled by a blatantly antisemitic regime.[1]

The Nazis took steps to soften the appearance of their harsher policies before visitors from other nations arrived, such as removing antisemitic signage that was common in Germany, and – under pressure from a potential American boycott and Olympic officials – allowing the Jewish athlete Rudi Ball to play on Germany's ice hockey team.[2]

A few weeks before the Games began, William L. Shirer, the Berlin correspondent for the Universal wire service, wrote a series of articles describing preparations for the competition. "I had written... that the Nazis at Garmisch had pulled down all the signs saying that Jews are unwanted (they're all over Germany) and that the Olympic visitors would thus be spared any signs of the kind of treatment meted out to Jews in this country."[3]

Opening Ceremony with Rudolf Hess, IOC president Henri de Baillet-Latour, and Adolf Hitler

None of the member nations boycotted the Winter Games, and 49 in all participated, the greatest number at that time.[4] The Games were completed with a minimum of political controversy, although the Canadian skiing team raised their arms in what appeared to be a Nazi salute as they entered the opening ceremonies.[5] The German crowd erupted in applause at the salute, which was later explained as the "Olympic Salute" that was identical to the Nazi version but with the arm extended laterally instead of forward.[4]

However, even Shirer was impressed by the effectiveness of the Nazis' efforts, writing:

This has been a more pleasant interlude than I expected. ... On the whole the Nazis have done a wonderful propaganda job. They've greatly impressed most of the visiting foreigners with the lavish but smooth way in which they've run the games and with their kind manners, which to us who came from Berlin of course seemed staged. I was so alarmed at this that I gave a luncheon for some of our businessmen and invited Douglas Miller, our commercial attaché in Berlin, and the best-informed man on Germany we have in our embassy, to enlighten them a little. But they told him what things were like, and Doug scarcely got a word in. ... Back to Berlin tomorrow to the grind of covering Nazi politics."[6]

Twelve days after the Games closed, Hitler sent German troops to remilitarize the Rhineland, his first territorial violation of the Treaty of Versailles and a critical test of European resolve to resist Germany's military expansion. None of the Western powers lifted a finger and Europe's first steps towards World War Two were taken.





Medals were awarded in 17 events contested in four sports (eight disciplines).

Demonstration sports



  • Große Olympiaschanze – Cross-country skiing, Nordic combined, Opening and Closing Ceremonies, and Ski Jumping.
  • Gudiberg – Alpine skiing (combined – slalom)
  • Kreuzjoch – Alpine skiing (combined – downhill)
  • Kreuzeck – Alpine skiing (downhill finish line)
  • Olympia-Kunsteisstadion – Figure skating and Ice hockey
  • Riessersee and surrounding areas – Bobsleigh, Ice hockey, and Speed skating

Participating nations


A total of 28 nations sent athletes to compete in Germany. Australia, Bulgaria, Greece, Liechtenstein, Spain and Turkey all made their Winter Olympics debut, and Estonia, Latvia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Yugoslavia returned after having missed the 1932 Winter Olympics.

Participating National Olympic Committees

Number of athletes by National Olympic Committee (from highest to lowest)


Medal count

Norwegian figure skater Sonja Henie

  *   Host nation (Germany)

1 Norway75315
2 Germany*3306
3 Sweden2237
4 Finland1236
5 Switzerland1203
6 Austria1124
7 Great Britain1113
8 United States1034
9 Canada0101
10 France0011
Totals (11 entries)17171751

Podium sweeps

Date Sport Event NOC Gold Silver Bronze
13 February Nordic combined Individual  Norway Oddbjørn Hagen Olaf Hoffsbakken Sverre Brodahl
15 February Cross-country skiing Men's 50 kilometre  Sweden Elis Wiklund Axel Wikström Nils-Joel Englund

See also





  1. ^ The 1936 Olympic Logo comprises the Olympic rings in the foreground and the summit of the Garmisch-Partenkirchen Alps with a ski track leading to the mountains in the background. Around, there is the inscription "IV. OLYMPISCHE WINTERSPIELE 1936


  1. ^ Marsha Lederman, "A Glimpse of Canada at the 1936 Nazi Games," The Globe and Mail, October 13, 2009
  2. ^ United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 1936 Olympics Bibliography, found at https://www.ushmm.org/collections/bibliography/1936-olympics
  3. ^ William L. Shirer, Berlin Diary, ©1941 reprinted 2011 by Rosetta Books, entry for January 23, 1936
  4. ^ a b Lederman, "A Glimpse of Canada at the 1936 Nazi Games"
  5. ^ Adam Martin, "So This Happened: Hitler's Winter Olympics in Photos, New York Magazine, February 12, 2014, found at https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2014/02/this-happened-hitlers-winter-olympics.html
  6. ^ Shirer, Berlin Diary, undated entry February 1936
  • "Garmisch-Partenkirchen 1936". Olympics.com. International Olympic Committee.
  • Complete official IOC report. In German
  • The program of the 1936 Garmisch-Partenkirchen Winter Olympics

Further reading

Winter Olympics
Preceded by IV Olympic Winter Games

Succeeded by
cancelled due to World War II