The Nazi Olympics Berlin 1936 Features Ohio’s Own Jesse Owens

The Nazi Olympics Berlin 1936 Features Ohio’s Own Jesse Owens

Opening at Maltz Museum October 19, 2010

Cleveland, Ohio – October 14, 2010 – In August, 1936, all attention turned to the Olympic Games being held in Berlin. A swift young athlete from East Tech High School in Cleveland, Jesse Owens, had captured national attention for his record-breaking feats at The Ohio State University, and made the American team.

Owens had more to overcome than the competition. Adolf Hitler’s Nazi dictatorship was growing stronger, and aimed to use the Summer Olympics as a huge propaganda event. Soft-pedaling its anti-Semitic agenda and plans for territorial expansion, the regime exploited the Games to dazzle many foreign spectators and journalists with an image of a peaceful, tolerant Germany.

The Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage is proud to present The Nazi Olympics Berlin 1936, produced by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. This stunning look at how world politics, sports, and racism converged in Germany explores the issues surrounding the 1936 Games–the Nazis’ use of propaganda, the intense boycott debate, the history of the torch run, the historic performance of Jesse Owens and more. Video testimonials from Olympians and boycotters will be featured, along with an original torch from that year’s Games, historical photographs and film footage. The Maltz Museum has added several items of Owens’ personal memorabilia, courtesy of The Ohio State University’s collection, including his diary from the voyage to Berlin, one of his gold medals and a trophy won at East Tech High School in 1932.

During the summer of 1936, America sweltered through a heat wave and endured the depths of the Great Depression. In Cleveland, Safety Director Elliott Ness fought the mob and searched for the Torso Murderer, while the opening of the Great Lakes Expo attracted millions to the lakefront. To accompany the exhibition, the Maltz Museum takes a nostalgic look back at major local, national and world events.

As a Museum of diversity and tolerance, we’re always looking for special exhibitions that appeal to both the head and the heart and highlight the lessons of history,” notes Judi Feniger, Maltz Museum Executive Director. “The Nazi Olympics, with its stories of politics and racism, propaganda and intrigue, physical prowess and mental pressure, intertwined with the pomp and spectacle of the Olympics, offers a compelling experience for visitors of all ages.”

A season-long offering of informative programs, performances and lectures at the Museum and around town will illuminate the themes of the exhibition, highlighted with a lecture by Dr. Rusty Wilson, author of The Ohio State University at the Olympics (November 17), and a panel discussion featuring Northeast Ohio Olympians Harrison Dillard, Carol Heiss Jenkins and Diana Munz DePetro, moderated by President and CEO of the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, David Gilbert (December 8).

The Nazi Olympics is presented by the Cleveland Browns, Cleveland Cavaliers and Cleveland Indians, with support from KeyCorp. The Maltz Museum is generously supported by Cuyahoga Arts and Culture and the Ohio Arts Council. Special thanks to The Ohio State University for the loan of items from The Jesse Owens Collection.

Docent-led tours can be reserved daily for adult and student groups of ten or more, with discounts for groups of 15+ (reservations required). Packs of 35 or more tickets are available at a discounted price. The Museum Store, open whenever the Museum is, will carry exhibition catalogs and related merchandise, and offers free gift wrapping. Parking adjacent to the Museum is free, and includes close-in handicapped spaces, and wheelchairs can be reserved in advance. The Museum is a stunning venue for a range of private events with exclusive viewing of the exhibition; details and pricing on request.

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About the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage: An American Story

Opened in 2005, the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage introduces visitors to the beauty and diversity of that heritage in the context of the American experience, promotes an understanding of Jewish history, religion and culture and builds bridges of tolerance and understanding with people of all religions, races, cultures and ethnic backgrounds. It includes An American Story, tracing Ohio’s immigrant history and heritage, and The Temple-Tifereth Israel Gallery, an internationally-recognized collection of Judaica. One admission fee includes unlimited access, and all levels of membership include unlimited admission. The Museum was created as a partnership of The Maltz Family Foundation, the Jewish Community Federation’s Centennial Initiative and The Temple-Tifereth Israel, with research support from the Western Reserve Historical Society.