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Propaganda, Indifference & Outrage | The Boycott Debate | More Than Just Games

Propaganda, Indifference & Outrage

Photo of Goebbels giving speech

The Nazis viewed the Olympics as an opportunity to legitimize the Third Reich in the eyes of the world. Hitler, who initially opposed the Olympics because of the Games’ ideals of internationalism and peace, became an avid supporter when Joseph Goebbels, the Minister of Propaganda, convinced him of their international public relations value.

The realization that Nazi Germany, a state that made no secret of its racism, antisemitism and militarization, would host the Olympics was greeted with outrage by some and indifference by others. Anti-Nazi groups around the world, especially Jewish groups and groups on the political Left, protested that the staging of the Olympics by the Nazis made a mockery of sportsmanship and Olympic ideals. In Western democracies, including Canada, various groups organized campaigns to boycott the Games.

Joseph Goebbels delivers a speech on April 1, 1933 to a crowd in the Berlin Lustgarten urging Germans to boycott Jewish-owned businesses.

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