Oral history interview with John Woodruff
John Woodruff, born July 5, 1915, discusses his childhood in Connellsville, PA; his introduction to track and field sports in high school; his memories of racism in Connellsville and at the University of Pittsburgh; his impressions of Adolf Hitler and Germany's treatment of the Jews at the time of the 1936 Olympic Games; his memories of the 1936 U. S. Olympic team's voyage to Berlin; training before the games; the athletes’ lifestyle in the Olympic village and relationships with fellow athletes; his recollections of Marty Glickman and Sam Stohler and the controversy over their exclusion from the 1936 Games; his memories of winning the 800 meter race and receiving the gold medal; his return to the United States and the University of Pittsburgh; his memories of Jesse Owens during and after the 1936 Games; his experiences of racism after returning to the United States; his impressions of Hitler's actions after 1936 and the use of the Olympic Games as propaganda; his relationship with Marty Glickman; and his recollections of the opening and closing ceremonies of the 1936 Olympic Games.
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Record last modified: 2021-02-16 15:52:27
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Also in The Nazi Olympics: Berlin 1936 oral history collection
Contains interviews conducted in May 1996 by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's Exhibitions Department in preparation for "The Nazi Olympics: Berlin 1936" exhibition. The interviewees include: Milton Green, John Woodruff, Herman Goldberg, Marty Glickman, and Margaret Lambert. The interviews document the lives of five athletes and their experiences during the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany
Milton Green, born circa 1914 in Lowell, MA, discusses his childhood in Brookline, MA; his three siblings; attending Reform Temple with his family; his early interest in track and field sports; his participation in track sports while studying at Harvard University; receiving a certificate from Avery Brundage, of the American Olympic Committee, informing him of his qualification for final Olympic Team tryouts at Randall Island, NY; deciding with his teammate Norman Carnis to boycott the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany at the urging of Rabbi Levi and other members of the Temple Israel; meeting with Harvard track coach Yacko Macola, who attempted to persuade him not to boycott the Olympics; following the 1936 Olympic events by radio and newspaper; his thoughts on the lack of an overall United States boycott of the 1936 Olympic Games; enlisting in the United States Navy in 1943; being in Scouting Squadron 31 as an air combat intelligence officer; and leaving the service in 1946.
Herman Goldberg, born in November 1915, discusses his childhood and family in Brooklyn, NY; the importance of sports in his life; playing baseball at Brooklyn College and in the Canadian American League, where he was catcher for the Rome Colonels; his selection for the 1936 United States Olympic Baseball Team at pre-Olympic try outs in Baltimore, MD; his participation in exhibition baseball at the 1936 Olympics; his participation in baseball demonstrations throughout Germany immediately after the Olympics; discovering that the Olympic village would be used for the German Army after the close of the games; his memories of the voyage with the United States team to Germany; his memories of the proposed United States boycott of the 1936 Olympic Games; and his impressions of Adolf Hitler's behavior during the various events of the Olympics, especially when black or Jewish athletes won medals.
Marty Glickman (né Martin Irvin Glickman), born in 1917 in Bronx, NY, discusses his childhood and growing up in Brooklyn, NY; his Romanian parents; his participation in sports throughout his childhood and youth; his competition with Ben Johnson and realizing his potential to compete in the Olympics; his memories of antisemitism in Europe and the United States; his races against Jesse Owens and Ralph Metcalfe during the Olympic qualification events at Randall Island, NY; the voyage to Germany with the 1936 U.S. Olympic Team; his memories of a possible United States boycott of the 1936 Olympic Games; his friendship with Herman Goldberg, a member of the 1936 U.S. Baseball Team; his views on the role of politics in the Olympic Games; the arrival and reception of the U.S. Team in Berlin, Germany; Hitler's reaction to the victorious black athletes; his memories of the Olympic village in Berlin and the opening ceremonies; the controversy that arose when he and Sam Stohler were removed from the 400 meter relay and replaced with Jesse Owens and Ralph Metcalf; the role of Dean Cromwell, the American track coach, in excluding Glickman and Stohler from the relay; his memories of watching Owens and Metcalfe win the relay; his views on the involvement of Avery Brundage, President of the American Olympic Committee, in having him and Stohler removed from the relay; his experience with racism in 1937, when a fellow Syracuse football teammate was excluded from a game because he was black; and his hopes to compete in other Olympics after 1936.
Margaret Lambert (née Gretl Bergman), born April 12, 1914, discusses her childhood in Laupheim, Germany; her involvement in various sports as a child; her memories of antisemitism after the Nazis took power in 1933; her relationships with non-Jewish friends and athletes; moving to England in October 1933 to attend school and to train; her victory at the British National Championships in June 1934; returning to Germany to become a member of the 1936 German Olympic team; her relationships with other athletes and coaches on the German team while training for the Olympics; her reflections on how she depended on her anger toward the Nazis to help her succeed in the running and jumping events; her time in school and training in Stuttgart, Germany; her outstanding performance in qualifying events in Stuttgart just prior to the Olympics; her dismissal from the German Olympic team following the qualifying events in Stuttgart; immigrating to the United States in May 1937; her father's brief imprisonment in the Dachau concentration camp in 1938; her family's escape from Germany to England in 1939; her impressions of the Olympic Games as Nazi propaganda; and her decision to attend the Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996 as a special guest of the German government.