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