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Sunday, April 27, 2014

Springtime With Hitler

Quite an experience yesterday.   Went with my daughter, the Arsenal football (soccer for you Yanks) fan, to a match between one of the two major Berlin teams and squad from another German city, forget which, before 51,000.  This would have been exciting in any case, as I have never gone to a match with her, just watched on the TV.  But there was this: match was at Hitler's 1936 Olympics Stadium far out in western Berlin.

So had a nice train ride (through "Zoo Station," immortalized by U2 etc.) out to the stadium, which one might have thought would have been torn down long ago.  Actually, it's still the original concrete oval with a half-roof.  On the approach you still find the welcoming towers (see left) on either side.  Not too much else remains outside from 1936, beyond the haunting memories, though you can view one of the Olympics swimming pools.  Inside--yes, the track where Jesse Owens kicked ass still circles the field, though now in shade of blue.

Good game, Berlin won 2-0 and you can see crowd jumping to feet for first goal (below).  About 10,000 locals, in blue and white, stood for entire game in special area at one end, singing and chanting the entire time (though that also seemed a bit, shall we say, too evocative).  So great to watch a contest without a single commercial break or announcer or jumbotron ordering crowd to "make some noise" or music blaring every time there was a stoppage in play.  No kissing-cam.  No t-shirts rocketed into the crowd.  No wave.  And, contrary to soccer rep, no fights that I saw, though a special squad of police stood at a major gate at end of game to guarantee safe passage home for the away team fans.

Couldn't stop thinking about Jesse Owens and Hitler, and Leni R's "Olympiad," however, and that famous track...



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