Why Gretel was dropped from 1936 Games

FOR THE HIGH JUMP: Gretel Bergmann, who was dropped from the German 1936 Olympics team

IN 1936, athletes from both America and Germany were excluded from the competition in the Nazi-held Olympics in Berlin because they were Jewish.

One of them is still alive today. When Gretel Bergmann, 98, watched the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, she knew the Nazis were keeping a secret from the watching world.

The Jewish athlete was the best female high jumper Germany had produced. But on the eve of the Games, she had been expelled from the team.

Sports authorities told her she was not good enough, teammates learned she was 'injured' and her name was scrubbed from the record books.

Bergmann, was dropped from the German Olympic team, while half-Jewish fencing star Helene Mayer was put in 14th place.

Propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels' explained that the German Olympic Committee had decided to reduce the number of high-jumpers by eliminating one woman from the team.

Some saw the exclusion of Bergmann and Mayer as inevitable.

A December 1935 campaign by The Manchester Guardian to boycott the Berlin Games predicted that Nazi Germany's invitation to these Jewish athletes was insincere.

A gag order was placed on the Jewish press in Berlin, preventing outlets from reporting the injustice.

In 1937 Bergmann moved to America, where she met and married doctor Bruno Lambert. The same year she won the American women's high jump and shot-put championships.

In 1995, a sports complex in Berlin was named after her on the recommendation of the German National Sports Federation.

But Bergmann, who had vowed never to set foot on German soil again, did not attend the festivities.

However, she stated: "You can't hate forever."

In November, 2009, her German national record (1.60m) from 1936 was officially restored by the German track and field association, which also requested she be admitted to the German sports hall of fame.

The same year a film about her life, Berlin 36, was released.

Germany wasn't the only country to pull Jewish athletes from competition - America did too.

Hours before they were to compete in the trials for the 4x100-metre relay, Marty Glickman and Sam Stoller were dropped.

There were strong rumours that the American coach Dean Cromwell told the Jewish athletes that the Germans were hiding their best sprinters and saving them to upset the American team in the relay.

Therefore, Glickman and Stoller would have to be replaced by Jesse Owens and Ralph Metcalfe, both of whom had never trained in the relay.

The move left Glickman baffled, but he now says he has a clearer picture of what happened.

He points a finger squarely at Avery Brundage, president of the Amateur American Olympic Committee, who is widely believed to have been a Nazi sympathiser.

"He wanted to save Hitler the humiliation of seeing Jews standing on the winning podium," Glickman said of Brundage, who later became a member of the America First Committee, a group that supported the Nazis.

Whether Brundage was an antisemite was a question addressed by writer Haskell Cohen in an article published during the 1984 Olympic games in Los Angeles.

Cohen wrote: "Brundage maintained a steady flow of correspondence with antisemitic sports figures, including the German Nazi Karl Ritter von Halt and his followers.

"Von Halt was a member of the Nazi Party since 1932 and was able to, as head of the sports division, use his influence in the reorganised Nazi sports movement.

"One of his associates, Clarence Count Rosen, an International Olympic Committee member from Sweden, wrote a letter to Brundage congratulating him on his victory in the AAU battle.

"He stated: 'I can't tell you how happy I am that you conquered the dirty Jews and politicians'."

After the war, when the Nazi atrocities against the Jews were revealed in all their horror, Rosen wrote to Brundage: "Do everything possible to stamp out this mad expression of Jewish fanaticism.

"Jews are at the bottom of all the disturbances in the civilised world.

"Communism is their political creed and their weapon whereby they hope to destroy all organised civilisation."

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