Jews and the Olympic Games: The Clash Between Sport and Politics : with a Complete Review of Jewish Olympic Medallists

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Sussex Academic Press, 2004 - History - 268 pages
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This unique book documents the history of Jewish Olympic athletes, many of whom suffered under Nazi persecution and the Holocaust, illustrating how they used sport as a mechanism for combating oppression, social prejudice and inequality. There is an unusually rich collection of stories making up the history of the Jews at the Olympic Games. This is partly due to the prodigious -- and widely underestimated -- success of Jewish athletes at the Games, but also owing to the special history of the Jewish people in the twentieth century -- first, as victims of racism in Europe and then, following the establishment of modern Israel in 1948, in the ongoing struggle for peace in the Middle East. Many of the athletes depicted here fought battles both on and off the running track. The personal drama and enduring humanity of their stories goes beyond sport and embraces politics, heroism and resilience. The Olympic Games served to combat persecution -- in sport, the best competitor always wins. On these equal terms, such political and racial interference is rendered impotent. No story so richly illustrates the interaction between sport and politics as the story of Jewish athletes and the Games. Each major event at the Games related to the Jews is covered in-depth, including: the story of the Jewish-Hungarian wrestler Kroly Krpti in Berlin, 1936; the German-Jewish high-jumper Gretel Bergmann, who was callously exploited, then discarded, by the Germans; the American sprinters, Marty Glickman and Sam Stoller; and the legendary Mark Spitz. From the first Olympics in Athens in 1896, through to the disasters and triumphs of Munich 1972 and beyond, this book, which features a list of the more than 250 Jewish medalists at the Games, is a powerful account of the conflict between sport and politics.

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About the author (2004)

Paul Taylor is a writer.

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