Canada encounters Nazi Germany

The 1936 Olympics held in Nazi Germany marked a watershed moment between the Nazis’ accession to power in 1933 and the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, a critical juncture between the building of a racial state and the Holocaust. The Games also afforded one of Canada's first points of intersection with Nazi Germany.

The rest of the world faced a decision about whether to participate in these controversial Olympics. In Canada, a few voices warned of the danger posed by Nazism. Journalist Matthew Halton observed much more than sports when reporting from Germany in 1933 and during the 1936 Games. Canadian athletes, particularly young Jewish athletes, were caught in a dilemma. Should they follow their dreams to the world's greatest athletic competition or should they boycott the 1936 Olympics? Today, questions remain about the relationship between sport and politics and the legacy of these controversial Games.

Richard Menkis Richard Menkis
Historian, University of British Columbia
“There had not been a lot said...about Canada’s position towards going to the 1936 Olympics, so we began a journey...”
Watch the video

Richard Menkis David Halton
Journalist, CBC
“My father‘s reporting reinforces the message of this exhibit: ...that a great institution, the Olympic Games, could so easily be exploited for the most cynical and evil of purposes.”
Watch the video

Richard Menkis Peter Seixas
Professor, Faculty of Education, UBC
“Once students go through...the kind of exercise these tools provide, they come away with a very different understanding of what history is.”
Watch the video