I really wanted to go see the Olympic Stadium where “The Boys in the Boat” rowed to their victory and Louie Zamperini(Unbroken) ran in the Olympics in 1936. If you haven’t read both of these books you should-very inspirational stories. I loved them both. The history that they both cover about this particular Olympics and it being in Berlin is fascinating. Arriving in Berlin, during the summer of 1936, Olympic athletes like Zamperini saw swastikas flying everywhere. The “Juden Verboten” signs – forbidding entry to Jewish people – were temporarily out of sight.
The stadium has been all revamped since then, of course, and they use it mostly for their soccer team and games.
I found the plaque for Jesse Owens’ wins. Pleased with the performance of German athletes, and with the games in general, Hitler was nonetheless distressed by the numerous victories of Owens, a talented African-American who dominated his events. Winning four medals, Owens did not win-over a prejudiced Hitler who – according to Albert Speer – was upset about Owens’ accomplishments:
Each of the German victories, and there were a surprising number of these, made [Adolf Hitler] happy, but he was highly annoyed by the series of triumphs by the marvelous colored American runner, Jesse Owens. (Albert Speer, Inside the Third Reich.)
Louie Zamperini did not compete against Jesse Owens. Instead, he ran the 5,000 meters – a long race that was not his forte – against a group of Finns who’d been winning the race for years.
Biding his time, he initially misjudged how fast his competitors would run. When he realized he needed to move more quickly, he kicked into high gear, finishing in 14:46.8 – the fastest 5,000-meter time for an American in 1936. He finished his last lap in 56 seconds.
Later, when he met Hitler, Louie was surprised that the German leader remembered him. “Ah,” he said. “You’re the boy with the fast finish.”
This is the plaque for “the boys in the boat”-” achter” is the eight man boat. Out of the depths of the Depression this is an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times—the improbable, intimate account of how nine working-class boys from the American West showed the world at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin what true grit really meant.