- “A Blond, Broad-shouldered Athlete with Bright Grey-blue Eyes”: German Propaganda and Gotthardt Handrick’s Victory in Modern Pentathlon at the Nazis’ Olympics in 1936
- Journal of Sport History
- University of Illinois Press
- Volume 38, Number 2, Summer 2011
- pp. 255-274
- View Citation
- Additional Information
Modern pentathlon requires mainly military skills and historically attracted the attention of officers only. Appropriately, the country that provided the best modern pentathletes simultaneously demonstrated its military strength. Gotthardt Handrick who interrupted a long-lasting Swedish hegemony over the modern pentathlon developed into Germany’s national pride. Surprisingly, his victory in the 1936 Olympics modern pentathlon competition is relatively unknown and under-investigated.
This paper investigates how Handrick’s performance at the 1936 games was presented in Germany in various press documents and thereby gives insights into the Nazis’ instrumentalization of the sport. By analyzing different articles in German newspapers and journals it is aimed to detect the propaganda that possibly contributed to the construction of Handrick’s heroic image in an up-to-that-date minor sport. It is argued that the often criticized military links of modern pentathlon never turned out to be so true than in the pre-war atmosphere of the 1936 Olympics.