Museum explores 1936 Nazi Olympics

Display to be shown outside Vancouver for first time

Jason Hewlett / Kamloops Daily News
February 20, 2013 01:00 AM

Charles Archibald, father of Kamloops resident Marg Archibald, covered the 1936 Olympics for The Times of London at age 19. He also gave talks that were reported on in the Victoria Daily Colonist.

A Lower Mainland exhibit that sheds light on the controversy of the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany and Canada's role in it comes with a local touch.

More Than Just Games: Canada and the 1936 Olympics uses panel displays to detail the Winter and Summer Games from inception through conclusion, beginning with Hitler's rise to power and the Nazification of Germany.

Kamloops Museum and Archives curator Dennis Oomen said a handful of displays with a local connection is part of the exhibit.

One is a commemorative book a soldier brought home after the Second World War. This ended up in the possession of Kamloops resident John Dittrich.

Other memorabilia detail the exploits of Charles Archibald, who was travelling in Europe when the Games began. The father of Kamloops resident Marg Archibald, he was talked into covering the Games by a reporter and ended up staying in Germany for five years.

"In his opinion, Nazi Germany was committed to war," Oomen said of Archibald's accounts. "Most journalists were of that opinion."

The opening reception for More Than Just Games takes place at Kamloops Museum and Archives Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m.

"This is the first appearance of this exhibit outside of Vancouver, outside of the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre," Oomen said Wednesday.

Oomen was looking for interesting exhibits to bring to Kamloops. The Vancouver Holocaust Education Society, which produced More Than Just Games, was on his list of contacts, he said.

The exhibit was available. Oomen said it took a couple of months to work out the details, but he was able to bring More Than Just Games to Kamloops for its Feb. 5 launch.

Oomen said the exhibit explains how Hitler didn't want to host the Olympics, but his head of propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, talked him into it, saying it would a good opportunity to cast the country in a positive light.

"He (Hitler) wasn't for peaceful co-operation and competition," said Oomen. "This went against his values."

But Hitler relented. The Nazis' racism was publicly toned down while the country quietly built up its war machine in the background, said Oomen.

The exhibit continues until May 1.

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