Geoff Walden

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Berlin -- Haus des Deutschen Sports and 1936 Olympic Village

     The area of the Reichsportsfeld adjacent to the Berlin Olympic Stadium included the Haus des Deutschen Sports and other buildings. This area was not badly damaged during the war, and was taken over in 1945 as the headquarters of the British military contingent in Berlin. Returned to German control in the mid-1990s, much of this area remains today as it did in 1936, still a sports center.

Click here to proceed directly to the section on the Olympic Village.

 

Period views (above) of the Haus des Deutschen Sports complex, with the Olympic Stadium seen in the background on the left. Below are the courtyard (Jahnplatz) and main building of the complex, with two period sculptures by Arno Breker on the portico.  (Werner Rittich, "Architektur und Bauplastik der Gegenwart," Berlin, 1938)  (MapQuest Map Link)

 

Above, Arno Breker's Zehnkämpfer (Decathlete), and below, Siegerin (Champion), still in their original locations.  (Werner Rittich, "Architektur und Bauplastik der Gegenwart," Berlin, 1938)

 

The main entrance on the other side of the complex fronted on the Adlerhof, or "Eagle Square," named for the two golden eagles on pylons. In the period view at left, a group of German female athletes marches past.

 

These terracotta reliefs by Arno Lehmann of (left) horsemen and (right) track and field athletes decorate the inner doorways facing onto the open court (Jahnplatz). (Thanks to Sheila Luecht for info)

 

Georg Kolbe's sculpture Ruhende Athlet (Resting Athlete). Below, Argentinean swimmer Jeannette Campbell poses with the Resting Athlete, August 1936.  (above - Werner Rittich, "Architektur und Bauplastik der Gegenwart," Berlin, 1938; below - "Die Olympischen Spiele 1936," Hamburg-Bahrenfeld, Cigaretten Bilderdienst, 1936)

 

On the left, the pool where Campbell competed is adjacent to the Olympic Stadium, and is still used for swimming competitions. On the right, sculptures of a bull and cow by Adolf Strübe at the end of the Haus des Deutschen Sports courtyard (Jahnplatz), symbolizing strength and fertility.

 

The Haus des Deutschen Sports still displays other reminders of the Olympics, such as this windvane dated 1936.

 


1936 Olympic Village Site

   The remains of the 1936 Olympic Village built to house the visiting athletes can still be found near the village of Elstal, west of Berlin on Hwy. B5. Most of the athlete quarters were removed under Soviet occupation (there was a large Soviet military post just across the highway), but a few of the main 1936 buildings remain.  (MapQuest Map Link)

 

On the left, the following buildings can be seen from left-right: Swimming Hall, athletes' houses, Dining Facility (in the distance). The building on the right was the site Commander's house.

 

The Hindenburg Haus was the main administration building in the Olympic Village. It boasted a television viewing room, since the 1936 Olympics were broadcast live (mainly to public TV sets).

 

Many of the original 1936 buildings at the site, including the Swimming Hall, are in a somewhat ruined condition today. (2012 note - the Swimming Hall is currently undergoing restoration.)

 

The huge Dining Hall (left) and gymnasium (right) are also in a dilapidated condition. However, the site is now being preserved. Some of these buildings no longer present their exact 1936 appearance, because this site was used by the Soviet and East German military forces for many years.

 

Famed American runner Jesse Owens lived in a house that has been restored, including his room (below). However, most of the 1936 athletes' houses were either rebuilt/remodeled after the war or town down. The 1936 houses were wooden structures, similar to that seen on the right (which has been partially dismantled).

 

Rudolf Hess tours the Olympic Village in 1936, with a similar perspective today. The large building in the background is the Dining Hall.  (Bundesarchiv)

 

The "Dining Hall of the Nations" was designed to accommodate the nearly 5000 Olympic athletes and staff who lived and worked in the village. The building also housed the village heating system and power plant, garages, and other support necessities. The original Olympic Rings from the roof of the structure are stored in the gymnasium today.  (Official Report, the XIth Olympic Games, Berlin 1936 (Berlin, 1937)

 

The Dining Hall during the 1936 Olympics. Curiously, the flag flying from the roof is the Reichskriegsflagge,
which was the military War Flag, not the national swastika banner.  (Bundesarchiv)

 

Much of the area of the removed 1936 houses was taken up by barracks buildings for the Soviet and East German military units that occupied this site. The photo on the right above shows a post-war concrete guard bunker at the site.

 

The 1936 Olympic Village site is now being preserved and is open to the public. More info here (in German) - http://www.historia-elstal.de/olympisches-dorf/, and here - http://www.olympisches-dorf.de/

 

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This page initially uploaded on 20 July 2000.


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