The Olympic Pause

Photo of Hitler motorcade

Germany hosted both the Winter and Summer Games in 1936. Canadian athletes, journalists and tourists who traveled to the Olympics found world-class facilities and meticulously run Games meant to improve the image of Nazi Germany abroad, while deflecting attention from its racist policies at home.

Matthew Halton's critical reporting for the Toronto Daily Star was an exception. He observed much more than sports. Quoting his local interviewees, Halton referred to the Games as “the Olympic pause” and observed: “Germans one meets today speak of this summer of 1936 as ‘the Olympic pause,’ and if you ask what they mean they reply ‘All is quiet until after the Olympics.’... Goebbels has officially and openly instructed all Nazi orators to take a rest until after the Olympics.’ ” Halton wrote: “Heaven knows I don’t begrudge the German people the semi-religious rapture they got out of the Olympics: ... it is much better than what will come after the ‘Olympic pause’ ”

Hitler rides in a motorcade through the Brandenburg Gate to the opening ceremonies of the XI Olympiad in Berlin, August 1, 1936.

USHMM, courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration, College Park