The Olympics sparked a backlash after using their ‘Throwback Thursday’ Twitter post to share a video of the 1936 Berlin Games that were best known for Adolf Hitler’s attempts to normalise the Nazi regime.
A Twitter thread saw the social media accounts of Tokyo 2020, the Olympics and Team USA honour what should have been the day of the opening ceremony of this year’s Olympic Games, which have been postponed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The thread attracted the interest of the Team Belgium account, who also joined in with the messages and highlighted how the 1920 Games in Antwerp brought “hope, resilience and the power of humanity” following the effects of the First World War, which ended two years before.
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Their tweet read: “Overcoming obstacles and sending out a message of hope, resilience and the power of humanity. We did it 100 years ago during #Antwerp1920, and we will do it again next year. #StrongerTogether #1YearToGo”
It prompted a response from the Olympics account, which attempted to highlight the first Olympic torch relay as a reason to believe in their ‘Stronger Together’ slogan.
“This is turning out to be quite a #ThrowbackThursday already!” the tweet read. “Berlin 1936 marked the 1st Olympic torch relay to bring the flame to the cauldron. We can’t wait for the next one in Japan #StrongerTogether.”
The post included a video montage of Berlin 1936, which took place at the Olympic Stadium in front of Hitler who sought to use the Games to project an image of a new, strong, and united Germany while masking the regime’s targeting of Jews and gypsies.
The 1936 event has frequently been referred back to as ‘Hitler’s Games’, such was the prominence with which the Nazi leader had in what was the first Olympics to be televised.
According to the official Olympic.org website, the 1936 Games are “best remembered for Adolf Hitler’s failed attempt to use them to prove his theories of Aryan racial superiority”, which is why so many were shocked to see the official Olympics account publish a positive post about the Games.
The IOC’s website adds that although Hitler attempted to use the Games to his own benefit, “as it turned out the most popular hero of the Games was the African-American sprinter and long jumper Jesse Owens, who won four gold medals in the 100m, 200m, 4x100m relay and long jump”.
The message prompted a response from the official Twitter account of the Auschwitz Museum, which said: “For two weeks the Nazi dictatorship camouflaged its racist, militaristic character. It exploited the Games to impress foreign spectators with an image of a peaceful, tolerant Germany. Later, Germany’s expansionism, the persecution of Jews & other ‘enemies of the state’ accelerated.”
Hitler was responsible for ordering the death of more than five millions Jews during the World War, as well as other minority groups in Europe.