We often have to behave in contrast of our will, just apparently to not deal with problems. The following story teach us that sometimes it is necessary to express our ideas fighting for them in spite of the consequences, even if it seems too hard.
It has happened during the 1936 Berlin Olympics Games, which had been hosted by the Nazi Germany. The Games had been fixed to Germany before the Nazis came to power, but in August 1936 they provided a perfect opportunity for the Nazis to showcase Hitler’s Third Reich to the 49 nations of the world competing for Olympic gold: n Joseph Goebbels’s mind, well known as the Reich Minister of Propaganda, this “political” event was a perfect occasion to exploit the propaganda by involving Games in pursuit of Nazi ideology.
They was only a partial success for the Nazis: indeed, Germany finished top of the medal table ahead of their main rivals, the United States, who dominated the entire Athletics events counting on the incredibile Jesse Owens (read about his story here), considered “perhaps the greatest and most famous athlete in track and field history” by managing to win four gold medals in this occasion.
However, this is not the only great sports moment seen by that Games: indeed, there is an unknown story over the “Jesse Owens” Olympics, which involved the unprofessional England team during its games, getting them not notable not only for their poor play seen in the fields.
After their first match, in which the British had defeated China’s side by an overwhelming victory, Great Britain team should have complied with a propagandist set-piece meeting with Adolf Hitler at the Berchtesgaden before the game against Poland.
It is reported they had been escorted by SS guards in black suits and they had to enjoy shaking Hitler’s hand. “The squad were taken to Berchtesgaden, Hitler’s castle nearly 400 miles away from Berlin,” it had been written “Huddles even saved a photo showing the squad escorted by black-suited SS guards. All the footballers had to shake the dictator’s hand.”
It’s said that Daniel Pettit, a player from Cambridge University, later would have told “I’ve been washing my hand ever since.”
However, the Great Britain players pointedly refused to give the ‘Sieg Heil!’, the Nazi salute, in the two games, respectively against China and Poland, they played during the tournament, disobeying to the instructions given by the top. Although this brave gesture has not been talked about so much, is considered a heroic act, almost a symbol of rebellion against the diplomatic agreements in favor of the Nazi power, even before it became too strong to be countered.
The fierce reaction from German diplomats would have erased the snub committed by the British only two years later: the pressure on the professional English players, visiting Berlin in 1938, would have been so great to force them to give the Nazi regime, in the effort to deny the amateur players’ gesture of two years previously.
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