Hitler officially promised that Jews would not be excluded from Germany’s Olympic team, and the IOC decided not to control it. At the same time, western democracies began doubting the morality of Olympic Games hosted by the Nazi regime. But, the president of the American Olympic Committee, Avery Brundage, successfully discredited the boycott movement as a “Jewish conspiracy.” Thus, a first, large-scale Olympic boycott was avoided.
49 nations agreed to take part in the Berlin Games – more than ever before. Under enormous time pressure, the largest Olympic building program began. Gigantism forced architects and construction companies to take risks that resulted in terrible catastrophes, the deadliest of which caused a cave-in at a construction site where 19 workers were killed. But, not only construction workers paid for the Olympic megalomania with their lives - in an effort to “clean up” the Olympic host city, 600 Sinti and Roma were deported out of Berlin and later died in Nazi extermination camps.
For the period of the Games, Berlin turned into a Potemkin village. What many didn’t know was that the atmosphere of peaceful harmony praised by so many visitors was a result of a draconian deployment of police power. The Reich’s security agencies took extensive measures to ensure that there would be no significant signs of political protest. Hitler delivered what he had promised to the IOC – the greatest Games ever.
After the splendid Olympics, the world was willing to believe that Hitler was rather an angel of peace than a war monger. But, only two weeks after the closing ceremony of the Berlin Games, Hitler secretly instructed his chief aides to prepare for war while the IOC continued courting the Nazi regime. In 1939, after the “Kristallnacht” pogrom already had taken place, the IOC honored Hitler with the Olympic Games yet another time. Only the outbreak of World War II prevented the 1940 Winter Games, under the swastika flag, from taking place.