A week after the Closing Ceremony of the Rio Olympics has ended, as athletes return to their country and the medal count is finalized, I came across a short Netflix documentary titled “Hitler’s Olympics”. Although this documentary does not approach the Olympics with as positive of a spin as we have seen for two weeks in the media, the documentary brings up interesting background information, shocking details, and hard truths of the Olympic games under Adolf Hitler in 1936 Berlin.
The documentary is only about forty-five minutes, and although it takes an approach that reminds me of the documentaries I watched in a high school history class, with historian interviews, dramatic music, and low quality footage, the details were both shocking and interesting enough to keep my attention. The documentary briefly covers the events leading up to the Berlin Olympics, as the Nazi Party and Hitler were gaining power at the time, the impact of the Olympics on the Jewish population in Germany, the actions of United States Olympian Jesse Owens, and Germany’s lasting approach to hosting the Olympic games, as we see a lot of their choices for hosting the Olympic games reflected in today’s traditions. While I treasure the Olympics every time they come around and have truly enjoyed the spirit and emotions that came out of Rio for the past few weeks, this documentary allowed me to take a step back, learn some of the not always positive history associated with the Olympics, and remember that there are always things going on behind the camera that the audience does not always see.