de Coubertin was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by the Nazi Party after he made a radio address declaring his confidence in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. He was not awarded the prize.
In 1931 the International Olympic Committee awarded the Summer Games of 1936 to the city of Berlin. Two years later Adolf Hitler came to power. Not until this time were the Olympic Games used for political purposes. With Berlin as the host city, Hitler and the Nazi Regime hosted the most extravagant Olympics that had ever been. Hitler used the Olympics as a form of propaganda to convince the world that Germany was peaceful and tolerant.
However, many very skeptical of Hitler and his motives, as it was hard to avoid seeing his racist and anti-Semitic views. First, the question of whether Jewish athletes would play or not was, was asked. The I.O.C. demanded a written guarantee that German Jews would be allowed the right to compete. Jewish athletes were allowed to try out for the Olympic team; however, not surprisingly, none of them were selected to compete. Gretel Bergmann placed first during Olympic try-outs for high-jumping; her 1.6 meters was all of 4 centimeters higher than the following competitor. She was informed less than a month before the start of the Olympic Games that she would not be allowed to compete as she was not a member of an official sports club. She was not a member because she was Jewish and the Nazi Party had banned Jews from attending sports clubs. This posed a great problem for the German Jewish population as they were not as well trained as other athletes who had the use of official facilities for the use of training.
Many in the United States questioned the threat that the Nazis posed to Olympic ideals. Avery Brundage, a sports administrator worried that the "very foundation of the modern Olympic revival will be undermined if individual countries are allowed to restrict participation by reason of class, creed or race." He visited Germany to investigate if there was an reason for concern. He found none, as the Nazis monitored his conversation; he did not speak German and was forced to rely on interpreters. He was told that German Jews were likely to make the Olympic team. They did not.
Believing that Brundage had "prejudged the situation" and that the Nazis had "deluded him" the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) voted to postpone accepting the American invitation to the Olympics. Judge Jeremiah T. Mahoney published a pamphlet entitled "Germany Had Violated the Olympic Code" in 1935. He gained support for a boycott by siting specific examples of Jewish expulsion from sports clubs, such as Gretel Bergmann. A poll taken in 1935 shows that 43 percent of American were in favor of a boycott of the 1936 Olympics. However, hen it was time to vote, the acceptance of the Olympic invitation was won, 58 1/4 to 55 3/4.
The United States indeed attended the Olympics and were enormously successful. The 1936 Olympics cannot be thought of without a reference to Jesse Owens, the record-breaking American track star. Owens' success helped to contradict Nazi propaganda against people of African decent and "Aryan" superiority. Owens set world records, finishing 100 meters in 10.3 seconds, 200 meters in 20.7 seconds as well as a 8.06 meter high jump. Owens' picture appeared in German newspapers across the country and was not portrayed negatively.
The United States decision, as well as the those of other countries, to attend the 1936 Berlin Olympics was in many ways both good and bad. A boycott would have been a major action to show American opposition to the Nazi regime. However, a stronger message was sent with the Olympic triumphs of so many "non-Aryans."