Origins of Olympic torch relay?

Print anything with Printful

The modern Olympic Torch Relay originated in Nazi Germany in 1936 as a way to promote the myth of “Aryan” superiority. The torch’s path foreshadowed the path Hitler’s troops would take in WWII. However, the torch relay became a symbol of peace after the war. Jesse Owens won four gold medals, angering Hitler.

The Olympic Games are widely seen as a way to unite the world, but one popular Olympic tradition, the torch relay, originated in a much more divisive time and place. Despite the widespread belief that the relay was part of the original Olympics in ancient Greece, the modern Olympic Torch Relay actually originated in Nazi Germany, at the 1936 Games in Berlin. Joseph Goebbels, Adolf Hitler’s propaganda minister, saw an opportunity to popularize the myth of “Aryan” superiority by promoting the idea that Nazi Germany was the natural heir to classical Greek civilization. Thus was born the relay, with runners making their way from Olympia, Greece, to Berlin to light the Olympic cauldron. Foreshadowing the conflict to come, the torches were made by Krupp, a firm that built the machine guns later used by German soldiers during World War II. Spectators along the torch’s route through Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Austria and Czechoslovakia were expected to shout “Heil, Hitler,” as the runners passed. In contrast, the torch’s path was not dissimilar to the path Hitler’s invading troops would take through Europe at the start of World War II, just three years later. However, there is a silver lining (or is it golden?): when the Olympics were held again – not for 12 years due to WWII – they were in London, and the torch relay became known as the symbol of peace, and that is how it remains today.

Looking back on the 1936 Olympics:

The 1936 Berlin Games were the first sporting event ever to be televised, but they could only be seen in Berlin and Potsdam, Germany.
American sprinter Jesse Owens won four gold medals at the 1936 Games, angering Adolf Hitler, who had wanted to ban African-American and Jewish athletes from competing.
The youngest gold medalist in Summer Olympics history was Marjorie Gestring, who was 13 when she placed first in springboard diving at the 1936 Games while representing the United States.

Protect your devices with Threat Protection by NordVPN

Skip to content