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Theodor Lewald in 1900

Theodor Lewald (Berlin, 18 August 1860 – Berlin, 15 April 1947) was a civil servant in the German Reich and an executive of the International Olympic Committee. He was the President of the Olympic organising committee for the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.[1]


Early lifeEdit

Lewald was born in 1860; his aunt was Jewish novelist Fanny Lewald.[2][3] Lewald became a civil servant in Prussia in 1885, and became the acting Reich Commissioner in 1903.[4][5] In that role, Lewald attended the 1904 Worlds Fair (held along with the Olympic Games), where he disagreed with Kaiser Wilhelm II over whether the Deutscher Olympischer Sportbund, of which he was the President, should be politically independent.[2][6]:33 After Berlin won the right to stage the 1916 Summer Olympics (which were later cancelled due to the outbreak of World War I), Lewald encouraged the German Reich to invest in the games, arguing that it was comparable to a World Trade Exhibition.[6]:34[7] Lewald retired from government in 1923; he had been the under Secretary of State.[6]:34[3] In 1935, Lewald recommended that Pierre de Coubertin be awarded a Nobel Prize.[8]

1936 OlympicsEdit

Lewald became a member of the International Olympic Committee in 1926, and was one of three Germans on the Committee that awarded Berlin the 1936 Summer Olympics. Lewald had previously argued for Germany to be allowed to attend the 1928 Summer Olympics, after being banned in 1920 and 1924.[6]:34[9][10]:28 In November 1932, Lewald gained permission to create an independent Organising Committee for the Games, which was created in January 1933. Immediately after the Nazis won the 1933 federal election, he spoke to Joseph Goebbels about the propaganda value of the event.[10]:31[6]:35-36[11] Lewald was later removed from his post and replaced by Hans von Tschammer und Osten as Lewald's paternal grandmother was Jewish, although Lewald himself was a Christian; the IOC demanded unsuccessfully his reinstallation to the role in a meeting of June 1933.[12]:70[7][13] Instead, Lewald was given a ceremonial advisory role, and he gave a formal speech at the opening of the 1936 Summer Olympics, although he also protested the treatment of German Jews during the Games.[10]:41[12]:151[6]:39[14] Lewald had previously assured the IOC that German Jews would not be excluded from the Games.[15] The Olympiastadion in Berlin that was built for the Games contained an Olympic bell, which Lewald had suggested, and Lewald also suggested one of the designs for the Olympic torch, as well as getting the IOC to approve the torch route from Olympia to Berlin.[14][10]:47 After the Games, Sigfrid Edström nominated Lewald to be Vice-President of the IOC, although Lewald withdrew and resigned his IOC role in 1938 after pressure to do so from the Nazi Party.[3][4][16]


  1. ^ Walters, Guy (16 May 2012). "A torch the Nazis lit". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  2. ^ a b Laqueur, Walter (4 December 2013). "Degenerate Art and the Jewish Grandmother". Mosaic Magazine. Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  3. ^ a b c Grundmann, Siegfried (February 2006). The Einstein Dossiers: Science and Politics – Einstein's Berlin Period with an Appendix on Einstein's FBI File. Springer Science+Business Media. pp. 48–49. ISBN 978-3-540-31104-1. Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  4. ^ a b Gold, John; Gold, Margaret (February 2011). Olympic Cities: City Agendas, Planning, and the World's Games, 1896–2016. Routledge. p. 180. Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  5. ^ Tatlock, Lynne; Erlin, Matt (2005). German Culture in Nineteenth-century America: Reception, Adaptation, Transformation. Camden House Publishing. p. 62. ISBN 978-1-57113-308-3. Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Krüger, Arnd (1998). "The Ministry of Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda and the Nazi Olympics of 1936" (PDF) (pdf). University of Göttingen. Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  7. ^ a b Findling, John E.; Pelle, Kimberley D. (1996). Historical Dictionary of the Modern Olympic Movement. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 87–88. ISBN 978-0-313-28477-9. Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  8. ^ Krüger, Anrd; Murray, William (August 2003). The Nazi Olympics: Sport, Politics, and Appeasement in the 1930s. University of Illinois Press. p. 188. ISBN 978-0-252-09164-3. Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  9. ^ Guttmann, Allen (2002). The Olympics: A History of the Modern Games. University of Illinois Press. p. 54. ISBN 978-0-252-07046-4. Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  10. ^ a b c d Rippon, Anton (September 2006). Hitler's Olympics: The Story of the 1936 Nazi Games. Pen and Sword. ISBN 978-1-78337-201-0. Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  11. ^ Nauright, John (April 2012). Sports around the World: History, Culture, and Practice: History, Culture, and Practice. 1. ABC-CLIO. pp. 383, 385. ISBN 978-1-59884-301-9. Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  12. ^ a b Mandell, Richard D. (1971). The Nazi Olympics. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-01325-6. Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  13. ^ "The Berlin Olympics". The History Place. Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  14. ^ a b Constable, George (November 2015). XI, XII & XIII Olympiad: Berlin 1936, St. Moritz 1948. Warwick Press. ISBN 978-1-987944-10-5. Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  15. ^ Tomlinson, Alan (February 2012). National Identity and Global Sports Events: Culture, Politics, and Spectacle in the Olympics and the Football World Cup. State University of New York Press. ISBN 978-0-7914-8248-3. Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  16. ^ Krüger, Arnd; Lewald, Theodor (1975). Sportführer im Dritten Reich (in German). p. 59.

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