[OLYMPIC GAMES, 1936]. Schonheit im olypmischen Kampf. Mit Zahlreichen Aufnahmen von den olympischen Spielen 1936. Leni Riefenstahl.

[OLYMPIC GAMES, 1936]. Schonheit im olypmischen Kampf. Mit Zahlreichen Aufnahmen von den olympischen Spielen 1936

Berlin: Im Deutschen Verlag, 1937. Second edition (21 bis 32 Tausend). Hardcover. Large quarto. 284 pp. including nearly 300 full-page or half-page photogravure illustrations. Original publisher's orange cloth (other items in original wrappers as issued - see below). Very good. Item #181

¶ Archive of original materials relating to the famed 1936 Olympic Games, held in Berlin, including Leni Riefenstal's famous pictorial record of the Olympics. It is well known Hitler and the Nazis utilized this celebration of sport as propaganda for their regime, and how other countries, including America, responded. Prior to the 1936 Games, new laws in Germany stripped Jews of their citizenship; some American leaders discussed boycotting the games; and Jewish athletes throughout the world had to consider whether they should also refuse to participate. In the end, of course, America attended the The Nazi Olympics, and in one of the Olympics’ most transcendent events, African American Jesse Owens’ dominance on the track proved the fallacy of Aryan dreams.

Riefensthal's "Schonheit" photographs are justly celebrated depictions of Sport: "These are such exquisite, such transcendentally beautiful images of athletes, that one almost forgets their context. And it's all Greek temples and hardbodies until page 54, when the German team enters the stadium in their immaculate white uniforms, their right arms raised in salute across the page to Der Fuhrer" (Andrew Roth, The Book of 101 Books: Seminal Photographic Books of the 20th Century).

"No story of the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympic games would be complete without a short discussion of Leni Riefenstahl's epic motion picture production Olympia. Leni Riefenstahl was born in 1902 and quickly became interested in filming and making films. In her early years, Riefenstahl had in fact a very fast growth path in the German film industry. In 1933, she filmed the Nurnberg party rally and did an exceptional job in editing the final version. Hitler was so impressed with her efforts that he made her the motion picture specialist of the NSDAP. In 1934, she outdid herself and produced the film Triumph of the Will, the story of the September Nurnberg party rally. Her filming expertise not only impressed Hitler, it also impressed the IOC. They commissioned Leni Riefenstahl to produce a documentary about the 1936 Berlin Olympic games. The film was released in 1938 (it took her over 18 months to edit the final version) and when it was released, Olympia became a definitive standard for all future sports documentaries for a long time. To produce Olympia, Riefenstahl experimented with anything and everything available to her. Camera operators were placed into foxholes and trenches so they could film the Olympic athletes and thus minimize the disruptions to their levels of concentration. She used miniature cameras in situations where a human camera operator was not a practical solution. Camera units were placed on rails and they followed the athletes around the track as they ran. Additional camera operators were allowed to roam around in the audience to get good emotional and crowd reaction shots. During diving meets, a camera operator dove alongside the diver both above and below the water. This was quite a feat since the diver had to not only dive and swim, he had to keep the camera steady and maintain a good focus on the subject (only a token percentage of that footage was of any use). It need be noted that Riefenstahl did not have an easy time making the film. Although Hitler gave her permission to film Olympia in any way she chose - Goebbels and his spin-doctors were far less accommodating. The kept pressuring her to film Olympia in a pro-German view. But Riefenstahl stuck to her position and filmed both Luz Long and Jesse Owens with the same degree of professionalism and care. Because of her close political association with Hitler and the Third Reich, Riefenstahl was essentially blackballed outside of Germany for most of her remaining life" (Arvo Vercamer and Jason Pipes). This copy does not contain the scarce dust-wrapper, for which dealers typically double or even triple the price.


A. 20 Original photographs of the Berlin-Reichssportfeld (now destroyed).
B. OLYMPIA 1936: Huge folding, color-printed Map of Berlin, dedicated to visitors of the Olympic Games.
C. HYMNEN DER VOLKER: National Anthems published in Celebration of the Olympic Games. Berlin, 1936; folio, original wrappers, 44 pp.
D. Deutschland IV. Olympische Spiel 1936 + Winterspiel 1936 Zeitplan: large printed sheet, folded twice to produce 8 panels, with information relating to logistics of attending the games, including locations, ticket pricing, and more.

Price: $950.00 save 50% $475.00

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