Sunday, August 24, 2008
Rare 1936 Olympic souvenir booklet turns up in UTD’s McDermott Library
The pre-WWII folio contains facsimile signatures of all the games' gold medalists.
Paul Oelkrug, coordinator for special collections at the University of Texas at Dallas' McDermott Library, was rearranging some safes recently in the special collections department when he came across a curious looking booklet.
Upon examination, it turned out to be a specially-produced souvenir volume showcasing the 1936 Berlin Olympics which was presented to Vice Admiral Charles E. Rosendahl, head of the U.S. Navy's airship department. The booklet was presented to him by the German government after he (Rosendahl) flew aboard the Graf Zeppelin in 1936.
The booklet contains a two-page section bearing the reproduced signatures of all the gold medal winners from the Olympic competition - including that of Jesse Owens, the U.S. track star who spoiled Hitler's dreams of an all-Aryan sweep of the games.
In addition to Owens, the signatories include:
* Rie Mastenbroek, a 17-year-old Dutch swimmer, who won three gold medals and just missed a fourth one. She had been a swimming prodigy at age 11.
* “K.C. Son” (Sohn Kee-chung), a marathon champion from Korea who was forced to compete for Japan, which had annexed Korea in 1910. The Japanese version of Sohn’s name, “Son Kitei,” was used on official records. When a Korean newspaper reported “Korean victory in Berlin” and obscured the Japanese flag emblem on Sohn’s uniform in a photograph, Japanese authorities arrested its staff and shut it down for nine months. In 1988 he carried the Olympic torch into the stadium to open the Summer Games in Seoul, South Korea.
* Helen Stephens, 18, a U.S. double gold medal sprinter, who was the target of German newspaper question about her gender. Her 100-meter rival was Poland’s Stella Walsh, a world record holder whose real name was Stanislawa Walasiewicz. She had come to America at age 2 but was unable to attain America citizenship. Walsh, likewise, was accused by German journalists of being a man. German doctors examined Stephens at the Olympics and pronounced her to be a woman. In 1980, Walsh was killed by a stray bullet in a Cleveland shopping center. The autopsy showed Walsh had both male and female chromosomes – a condition known as mosaicism.
* Gold medalists were also given an oak sapling from Hitler. Harold Whitlock, 50-kilometer walk champ, had his oak planted at his old school in north London where it was nicknamed the “Hitler Oak.” For 70 years it stood until last year when the 50-foot landmark was chopped down. It had developed a fungal disease and was deemed a danger to students. His son, Ross, said his home had a few saplings growing from acorns that fell from the Olympic tree. He suggested giving one to the school to be called “Son of Hitler Oak.”
* Ondina Valla who was the first Italian woman to win Olympic gold (80-meter hurdles), and Ilona Elek-Schacherer (foil) was the first Hungarian woman to win Olympic gold.
* U.S. decathlon champion Glenn Morris, who went on to make the motion pictures Tarzan’s Revenge and Hold That Co-ed in 1938. Tarzan’s Revenge also featured Eleanor Holm, a 100-meter Olympic backstroke swimmer in 1932 who was kicked off the U.S. team in Berlin for continual drinking and carousing.
* Discus champion Gisela Mauermayer was considered Germany’s ideal model of Aryan womanhood and beauty. She was expected to win gold in Berlin, and she did. She later became a professor of sport in a Munich college but later lost her job because of her Nazi ties.
* Khadr Sayed El-Touni of Egypt has been considered one of history’s greatest weightlifters, ranked at the top of the list until 1996. Hitler was so impressed by his domination in the middleweight class that he ordered a street named after him in Berlin. He also has had streets named after him in Alexandria and Nasr City, Egypt. His hometown of Helwan went one better by naming a plaza after him. In 1956 he was electrocuted while making home repairs.
* Jewish athletes who won gold in Berlin included Robert Fein of Austria; and Karoly Karpati, Ilona Elek-Schacherer and Ibolya Csak, all of Hungary.
posted by JM / info from UTD
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