The 1936 Nazi Olympic Venues – Then and Now!

 
 
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Eighty years ago this August, Nazi Germany welcomed the Olympics to the city of Berlin for two weeks. The Nazis used the games to promote Germany as a stronger, unified country.

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People in the United States and Europe had petitioned to boycott the games, but the “Nazi Olympic Games” went on as planned. From an Olympic standpoint, the games were a success. Stadiums were packed, and the games were broadcasted in over 28 languages.

The Olympic Flag and the Nazi Flag fly side by side in Olympic Stadium, 1936.
The Olympic Flag and the Nazi Flag fly side by side in Olympic Stadium, 1936. Photo via Wikipedia

When the Games were awarded to Berlin, Adolf Hitler had yet to take power. Berlin was awarded the 1936 Summer Olympics in 1931, but just two years later Adolf Hitler and Nazism would take over.

Adolf Hitler during the Opening Ceremony of the 1936 Olympic Games. Photo via Wikipedia
Adolf Hitler during the Opening Ceremony of the 1936 Olympic Games. Photo via Wikipedia

Numerous structures were erected for the events, with the games having a total cost estimated somewhere between $30-50 million ($520- $860 million in 2016). There were over 150 venues built for the games, many of which are still standing today.

Reichssportfeld

When Adolf Hitler and the Nazis came into power, they looked to use the Olympics as a propaganda tool. Originally, the city had planned to use a stadium and some facilities that already existed. Hitler set out to build a new sports complex called the “Reichssportfeld,” that was to be the greatest in the world. The sports complex sat on 326 acres and housed the Olympic Stadium, an amphitheater, Maifield (where gymnastics were held) and various other buildings and structures that housed field hockey, football, swimming and other sports.

Reichssportfeld complex as seen in the 30's.
Reichssportfeld complex. Olympic Stadium is at the top, and Maifield  is in the center, and the amphitheater is at the bottom. Photo via Wikipedia

Many of these structures still stand today and have been refurbished.

Olympic Stadium

Olympic Stadium as seen in 1936
Olympic Stadium as seen in 1936. Photo via Wikipedia

Constructed between 1934 and 1936, Olympic Stadium held 110,000 fans. The stadium hosted the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as track and field events. The stadium has been renovated twice, and in both 1974 and 2006, it hosted the  Fifa World Cup. Renovations have reduced the stadium’s capacity to 74,000 seats, but it continues to see regular use as a football and concert venue.

From the outside, the stadium looks as it did when it was built, but the inside looks a bit different. An overhang has been added, and much of the inside has been completely remodeled.

Olympic Stadium after extensive renovation
Olympic Stadium after extensive renovation
Columbus outside of the Olympic Stadium prominently displaying the Swastika
Columns outside of the Olympic Stadium, prominently displaying the Swastika in 1936. Photo via Wikipedia
Today, the columns still stand. But the Nazi symbol has been removed.
Today, the columns still stand. But the Nazi symbol has been removed. Photo via Wikipedia
Photo taken during the Opening Ceremony. Olympic Stadium can be seen in the distance. Photo via Wikipedia
Photo taken during the Opening Ceremony. Olympic Stadium can be seen in the distance. Photo via Wikipedia

Waldbühne Amphitheater

Waldbühne Amphitheater as seen in 1939.
Waldbühne Amphitheater as seen in 1939. Photo via Wikipedia

The amphitheater was opened on  August 2nd, 1936, the second day of the Olympic Games. The venue was primarily used for boxing during the Olympic games, but was later used for concerts, plays, and other live performances. It was built into the hillside and features bench seating. Wadlbuhne seats 22,000 people and has been renovated twice. Today, it’s primarily used as a concert venue.

Waldbühne amphitheater during a concert in 2007
Waldbühne amphitheater during a concert in 2007. Photo via Wikipedia

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