June 22, 1911 – September 1975
Much has been written, even by us, about the 1936 Berlin Olympics. You know the stories: Hitler's quest for Aryan sporting supremacy, Jesse Owens' triumph, the Jews who got to compete... and those who didn't. But those Games were not the only Olympics of 1936. Before the summer, they had get through the Winter Games, staged in... well, Germany.
Yes, the Nazis got two cracks at it that year. The winter ones were held in the tongue-twisting town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Lot of Nazi hope was tied to the hockey team that was coming off a bronze medal four years ago. One problem: one of their best players, Rudi Ball, was Jewish.
Oh, how the Nazis hated the Jews! But oh, how the Nazis wanted to win! So, after team leader Gustav Jaenecke said he would boycott if his friend and teammate was not included, Ball became the only German Jew to participate in the Games. He scored a couple of goals, got injured, and Germany ended up without a medal.
So it pretty much worked out. Ball got to play, but the Nazis got shut out in hockey. And if some Nazi feathers got ruffled...
September 19, 2014