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Der Olympia Stadion

26/10/2014

On Saturday I went to Berlin’s Olympia Stadion (Olympic Stadium) with the well informed and charming Konrad (one of my hosts here in Berlin). The Olympia Stadion was built as one may imagine from the name for Berlin’s hosting of the 1936 Olympic games. Those games had been assigned to Berlin prior to the Nazi rise to power but Adolf Hitler saw them as a prime opportunity to promote his ideology of the German aryan super race.

Since gaining political power the Nazis had begun to promote their anti semitic ideology but messaging around a key tenet of nazism was toned down for the games and slogans were removed. It was however much to Hitler’s chagrin that Jesse Owens, an African American athlete, should surpass his master race athletes by decisively claiming five gold medals in the track and field events.

While the stadium has a dark history given its origins as a venue to propagandize a particularly putrid form of Nationalist political ideology nowadays it is the scene of more benign parochialism as the site where FC Hertha, Berlin’s local football team hosts their Bundes Liga matches. Naturally enough this was the purpose of our visit. It is certainly an impressive sight and one can certainly imagine how it might have been during those Olympic games. It seems as though it was built with the grandness of Rome’s Coliseum in mind and the Olympic rings (pictured below at the end of this post) which still hang at the entrance to the stadium (outdoor swimming pools and a running track used during the games are still there too) give spectators some idea of the grandness of the venue at the time.

On this day of a regular season match between FC Hertha and Hamburg, football fever was in evidence as the rival fans at opposite sides of the field cheered their teams on. Konrad and I agreed the match was overall fairly uninspired perhaps befitting the fact that these teams currently sit on the 13th and 16th places respectively in the Bundes liga table. This was apart from two periods of high action in the second half when Hertha managed to score 3 goals to secure an ultimate victory of 3-0. Naturally enough the noise from the Hamburg fans dropped off somewhat in proportion to the increase in volume from the Hertha fans as the home team cracked in the goals. We both enjoyed a pre match beer and a pork riblet followed by a half time curry sausage which covered the full Deutshland fusball experience.  A fun afternoon in a stadium with an interesting past.

File:Berlin Olympiastadion Main Entrance Olympic Rings dec 2004b.jpg

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