Tuesday, July 10, 2012

1936 Berlin Summer Olympic Opening Ceremony

The Games of the XI Olympiad
Berlin, Germany
View of the 1936 Olympic Stadium from the Airship Hindenburg
Olympic Ceremony Records
italics indicate records at the time
  • First Olympic Torch Relay
  • First Cauldron Lighting by an Individual
  • First Olympic Bell (ironically London 2012 will be the second Opening Ceremony to feature an Olympic Bell, slightly larger than the 1936 model; it is curious and so far mostly unreported that the London 2012 games are reincarnating a Nazi creation in their Opening Ceremony)
  • First Use of an Audio Recording (voice of Baron Pierre de Coubertain - deceased founder of the modern Olympics)
  • First Official Olympic Film/Broadcast
  • First Mass Artistic Display in an Opening Ceremony
  • Largest Cast (10,000)
  • Most Nations Participating (49) - previous Amsterdam 1928 (46)
  • Most Athletes Participating (3,963) - previous Paris 1924 (3,089)

Olympic Torch Relay Records
italics indicate records at the time
  • First Olympic Torch Relay
  • First Torch Carried by a Runner
  • First Torch Carried by an Automobile
  • First Torch Carried by Canoe
  • First Torch Carried by Bicycle
  • Longest Olympic Torch Relay - 3,075km / 1,911 miles
  • Most Nations Traveled - 7
  • Most Torchbearers - 3,308
Opening Ceremony
Olympiastadion (100,000)
August 1, 1936

It may take a while for the video to load depending on your internet connection.

Official Report
(Contains handwritten score fragments of the Olympic Hymn by Richard Strauss and score fragments by Carl Orff, not to mention many amazing pictures - click the black arrow for larger view)

Opening Ceremony Highlights
Artistically, one of the most elaborate and massive Opening Ceremonies in Olympic history occurred in 1936.  Hitler spared no expense in the grandeur of the event.  These ceremonies marked the first Olympic Torch relay, first Olympic Bell, the first official filming of the event, and the first mass artistic display as part of the Opening Ceremony.  The scale of this spectacle cannot be overstated as it would be decades until the Olympics would see a ceremony of similar artistic achievement.  The 1936 Olympics held the first ceremonies constructed as an art form, something modeled in the ceremonies of today.  Among the most notable artists collaborating in the ceremony were Richard Strauss, who composed the Olympic Anthem, and Carl Orff, who composed most of the music for the mass play Olympic Youth.  These are two of the most influential composers in music history.  Here are the brief details of this massive ceremony:

  • Parade of dignitaries to either Mass (St. Hedwig's) or a Protestant service (Evangelical Cathedral)
  • Olympic Flame Welcoming Ceremony at the Lustgarten with Hitler Youth
  • Parade of dignitaries to the Olympic Stadium
  • Hindenburg Airship flies over the stadium with "XI. Olympiade Berlin 1936" painted on its side
  • Hitler arrives at the May Field (staging area next to the Olympic Stadium) - Olympic Fanfare by Paul Winter performed from Marathon Towers of the stadium by military band
  • Hitler enters the stadium to "March of Homage" by Wagner - Hitler is greeted by small girl who salutes him with "Heil, mein Führer” and presents him with flowers as an Introductory Theme by Herbert Windt is performed
  • German National Anthem performed while every participating country's flag is raised on poles surrounding the top of the stadium
  • Olympic Bell rung - inscribed across it "I summon the youth of the world"
  • Parade of Nations
  • Recording of Baron Pierre de Coubertain's voice played - the same quote used in the 1932 Olympics
  • Hitler declares the games open
  • Olympic Flag raised - simultaneously: artillery guns fire, 20,000 carrier pigeons released, fanfare played from the Marathon Towers, mass orchestra and choir perform the Olympic Hymn conducted and written by Richard Strauss CLICK TO LISTEN
  • Olympic Cauldron lit by Fritz Schilgen - German 1500 meter athlete who failed to make the German team, selected for his beautiful and graceful running style
  • Athlete's Oath
  • Handel's Hallelujah Chorus performed by 3,000 singers and orchestra CLICK TO LISTEN
  • Athletes parade out of the stadium followed by Concluding Fanfare by Paul Winter
  • OLYMPIC YOUTH - mass play by Carl Diem - music by Carl Orff (performed under the floodlight at night) http://histclo.com/essay/war/ww2/cou/ger/dip/mod/ndm-oly01.html
    • Part 1: Children at Play - 2,500 girls 11-12 and 900 boys run into the stadium for the grand stairs and tunnel; dance; form the Olympic Rings; leave CLICK TO LISTEN
    • Part 2: Maidenly Grace - 2,300 girls 14-18 flood into the stadium; one begins a waltz; games follow with balls, hoops, and clubs; large group dance; form circle at one end of the stadium
    • Part 3: Youth at Play in a Serious Mood - thousands of boys flood field; sing and divide up into different national "campfires"; fight each other; thousands of flags of all the nations enter and march around the track while boys salute; forest of flags surround the cauldron while child recites poem "Hymn of Fire"
    • Part 4: Heroic Struggle and Death Lament - along the track advance dancing warriors each with a leader; leaders duel in a dance, one falls, the other wounded also falls; leaders led off the field in death procession; mass dance "lamentation" performed by all; Beethoven's Ninth, Fourth Mvt. begins; floodlights form dome of light over stadium; thousands of torches and flags wave on the track during the Ode to Joy; CLICK TO LISTEN "LAMENTATION" or CLICK TO LISTEN "BEETHOVEN 9 MVT. 4" (fast-forward to 11:00 for awesomeness!)
Gold Medal from the 1936 Olympic Games
First Olympic Torch - 1936 Olympics

Official Poster of the 1936 Olympics
Airship Hindenburg over the Olympic Stadium during the Opening Ceremony

Images from "Olympic Youth" - the first mass artistic display in Opening Ceremony history - over 10,000 children participated - Music by Karl Orff, directed by Richard Strauss

1 comment:

  1. Is there a movie of the living rings available?


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