spotArguments for socialism




spotAround the UK

All keywords

All People subcategories:

* International figures

Labour Party figures




Other UK politicans

Socialist Party and CWI public figures

Tory figures

Trade union figures


Writers and artists

International figures keywords:

Ahmadinejad (15)

Al Gore (4)

Alan Greenspan (3)

Albert Einstein (2)

Alistair Darling (13)

Ariel Sharon (24)

Ariel Sharon (24)

Avigdor Liberman (1)

Babeuf (2)

Bashar al-Assad (6)

Bashar al-Assad (6)

Benazir Bhutto (3)

Benito Mussolini (1)

Berlusconi (21)

Bertie Ahern (3)

Boris Yeltsin (2)

Charles Darwin (2)

Che Guevara (20)

Cindy Sheehan (8)

Daniel Ortega (3)

David Kelly (4)

Dmitry Medvedev (2)

Donald Trump (59)

Ehud Barak (1)

Eleanor Marx (18)

Fidel Castro (11)

Gaddafi (18)

General Franco (1)

General Suharto (1)

George Best (1)

George Bush (81)

Hilary Clinton (4)

Hitler (22)

Hosni Mubarak (8)

Hugo Chávez (32)

Jacob Zuma (9)

Jacques Chirac (4)

Jean Bertrand Aristide (2)

Jean-Marie Le Pen (3)

Jeff Bezos (5)

John Maynard Keynes (2)

Joseph McCarthy (2)

Junichiro Koizumi (1)

Karl Liebknecht (6)

Lenin (65)

Lula (23)

Mahinda Rajapaksa (10)

Mahmood Abbas (2)

Malcolm X (30)

Mao Zedong (5)

Marine Le Pen (7)

Mikhail Gorbachev (4)

Mugabe (11)

Mussolini (4)

Napoleon Bonaparte (2)

Nicolas Sarkozy (7)

Obama (66)

Osama Bin Laden (2)

Paul Krugman (4)

Paul Wolfowitz (1)

Pervez Musharraf (7)

Pinochet (19)

Pope John Paul II (1)

Recep Tayyip Erdogan (2)

Richard Branson (14)

Robespierre (5)

Romano Prodi (4)

Ronald Reagan (2)

Rosa Luxemburg (21)

Rupert Murdoch (27)

Saddam Hussein (29)

Sarkozy (16)

Silvio Berlusconi (4)

Stalin (44)

Thabo Mbeki (2)

Tim Flannery (1)

Tony Blair (151)

Trotsky (132)

Trump (130)

Vladimir Putin (18)

Yasser Arafat (8)


Highlight keywords  |Print this articlePrint this article
From: The Socialist issue 621, 21 April 2010: Stop these savage cuts: support the socialist alternative

Search site for keywords: Olympics - US - Nazis - Hitler - Germany - Theatre

Attic Theatre Co

1936 - A play about the Olympics

written by Tom McNab, directed by Jenny Lee
reviewed by Arti Dillon

ROUND THE corner from the London 2012 Olympics site, the play "1936" opened at the Arcola Theatre, Dalston. It looks back to the 1936 Olympic games, hosted by Germany under Hitler and how Joseph Goebbels, the Nazis' chief propaganda minister used it to raise the international profile of Nazi Germany and the 'morale' of its citizens.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) had awarded Germany the games in 1931 two years before Hitler was handed the reigns of power by the German capitalist class. And despite the Nazi regime executing and expelling Jewish people, socialists, communists, and gypsies, a fascist sympathising IOC allowed Berlin to continue to host the games.

The newly elected (January 1936) left-wing popular front government in Spain boycotted the Berlin games and organised a parallel People's Olympiad in Barcelona, only for the event to be cancelled with the outbreak of civil war in the country.


Through the play it's well argued that Goebbels used the games for Nazi propaganda. With one of the largest government investments into the games (an estimated $30 million in 1936 prices), Goebbels knew the value of using a variety of tools and events to raise and maintain the Nazis' profile.

The US Olympic Committee authority narrowly voted to attend the games, despite widespread calls for a boycott, including from the Amateur Athletic Union. The US government of the day didn't overrule the committee but in 1980 US president Jimmy Carter ordered a boycott of the Moscow games because of the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union in 1979.

With a layered approach to the story, "1936" exposes the role of the IOC in bribing key figures into accepting and lobbying for attendance to the games.

It also expresses the segregation faced by black people in the US through Jesse Owens' character. (Black US athlete Owens won four gold medals in Berlin. One biography of Owens quotes the athlete as saying afterwards: "The president [Franklin D Roosevelt] didn't even send me a telegram.")


The play with its simple set, includes two key items which are powerfully used. The first is a three tier podium for 'winners' made up of shoes and items, remnants of those killed by the Nazis (similar to the holocaust exhibition at the imperial war museum). It shows that it was over the bones and blood of ordinary people that these games had gone on.

The second well-used set piece uses two flags, one in the forefront of the Olympic rings and one of a swastika at the back.

By the end of the play, as the Olympics are held and provide Hitler with a worldwide gaze and profile, the swastika becomes dominant.

The journalist who narrates, intermittently throughout, asks, looking back now, 'what else could I or should I have done?' A reflection for the audience to join in with.

It's quite a powerful piece that is occasionally overplayed but still worth a watch, written by former Olympic coach Tom McNab and directed by Jenny Lee.

In the questions after the show, Mcnab noted that the 1936 Berlin games would not have happened if governments had intervened, but also if there had not been a civil war in Spain that stopped the plan to put on a workers' olympics.

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0784 114 4890

North West 07954 376 096

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551



Alphabetical listing

December 2019

November 2019

October 2019

September 2019

August 2019

July 2019

June 2019

May 2019

April 2019

March 2019

February 2019

January 2019