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Committee On Fair Play in Sports Issues Rebuttal to Bingham's Position

Writer Denies German Officials Have Nothing to Do With Conduct of Games


This article has been written by a representatives of the Committee on Fair Play in Sports, an organization of prominent liberaia who urge American non-participation in the Olympics if they are held in Berlin. It is written in answer to an article by William J. Bingham '10, chairman of the Track and Field Committee who stated the case for the Olympic Committee's decision to enter an American team, in the Crimson for November 5.

Let me present the case of the plaintiff in default of Mr. Bingham's (and the Olympic Committee's) exposition. I am of course concerned with the statement of the case which Mr. Bingham makes, but I feel, with all due respect to Mr. Bingham, that in this particular instance it in permissible to put the facts of the developments in this question in the shadow of moral right and justice. It is not, mind you, that the Committee on Fair Play in Sports does not have a leg to stand on should the issue be decided utterly on its legal merits. So far is this from the truth that I think it is safe to say that my legal bombardment can blow Mr. Bingham's arguments quite out of court. "Mais nous verrons ce que nous verrons".

Mr. Bingham rests his case upon the argument, amongst others, that "Germany has nothing whatsoever to do with the management of the Olympic Games". This, evidently, is considered by the proponents of participation to be a very telling point, for it is advanced by all leading figures in the fight to send the team abroad to a Nazi Olympiad. If such be the case, if it is a cornerstone of the reasoning of the pro-participation people, I am afraid that the Olympic Committee has no case at all.

A little history will not be amiss at this point. On June 7th, 1933, Dr. Lewald, President of the German Olympic Committee stated that "with the consent of his government", he was authorized to declare: 1) "The German Olympic Committee has delegated the mandate that has been entrusted to it to a special organizing committee composed of Dr. Lewald, Dr. Sham, the mayor of Berlin and Captain Von Tschammer-Osten, Reichssport Kommissar." Since that time, Dr. Lewald has been unable to make a statement to the press without first getting permission from the representative of the Nazi government, Von Tschammer-Osten. Very plainly, the German Olympic Committee has abdicated its function for the sake of allowing the Nazi party to express its wishes more directly.

Another argument which Mr. Bingham makes is that "Avery Brundage, president of the American Olympic Committee has visited Germany and obtained definite promises that there would be no prejudice against Jewish athletes". I am sure that it is not Mr. Bingham's intent to make of this issue an altercation between the Jews and the Nazi government. Yet such is the way that he phrases his thought that one is led to believe that he had this in his mind. It is regrettable that such should be the implication because if ever there was a question which required exactness of definition, that of participating in a Nazi Olympiad is the one. It is true that the Nazis would be guilty of a breach of sportsmanship should it be found that they have denied the right of competition of Jewish athletes, but our case rests on an even firmer basis. The Naxis-have discriminated against Catholic sports organizations and dissenting Prostestant groups in a way which is mild only when compared with the treatment accorded the Jewish sportsmen. I refer specifically to the alternative which the Nazis have presented to their political and religious opponents: either practise under the supervision of our "Fuehrers" or don't practise at all. You know, for example, that the Deutsche Jugendkraft with a membership of over 100,000 throughout Baden was dissolved. Mr. Bingham implies that because the Nazis have promised not to discriminate against Jewish athletes that there would therefore be no discrimination. Are we to take the gilt-aged invitations issued to Gretel Bergman and Helene Mayer as satisfactory evidence of their good faith? Or are we to consider the gross violations of the Olympic Code contained in the cases of Dr. Prenn, the tennis player, Beelig, the boxer and Nathan, the long distance runner, to name but a few who have been denied access to the training facilities of have been driven out of the country?

As a matter of fact, the Nazis would not be consistent if they did permit opposition groups to train freely for the coming Olympic Games. We have only to consult Bruno Malitz's book "Sports in the National Socialist Ideology" to find the roots from which springs the atavistic treatment of minorities in the realm of sport. To give Herr Malitz, a sports leader of the Storm Troops the floor:

"We Nazis see no value whatsoever in having Negroes travel to Germany and meet our 'finest' in competition."

Mr. Malitz still has the floor: "Frenchmen, Belgians, Polaks, and Jew-Niggers ran on German tracks, swam in German pools.... Money was thrown away by promoters, but nobody could say that the international relationships between Germany and its enemies were bettered. Only a few treasonable persons and anti-German pacifists claim such things when delivering speeches in Geneva, Paris, and Prague."

The Nazis are lamentably consistent.

If I were to continue quoting from this officially blessed book--it was on the preferred list of the National Socialist library--I could very easily show that the Nazis sneer at the very conception of international competition. A sentence or two will suffico for this purpose--if the foregoing quotations have not already accomplished the job.

"You will ask us now, 'Don't you want any Olympic Games in a Nazi state. We answer yes, as a matter of fact, we consider them due to international propaganda reasons as necessary.' The only difference will be that no private clubs or associations will select the team in the name of Germany.... The state will name the teams."

At the risk of ending on an anticlimax, I will take up two more points which Mr. Bingham makes. He relies very much on the report which Mr. Brundage brought back from Germany after spending a week there. I believe that one need only underline the fact that Mr. Brundage does not speak German and when he spoke to leaders of German Jewry, he did so either in the presence of official representatives of the Nazi government or with them hovering ominously in the background as it were. Even if these leaders of German Jewry did give a clean bill of fare to the Nazis, I do not think that their statements should be taken very seriously.

Mr. Bingham declared that it is un-sportsmanlike to allow political, religious and racial situations to interfere with the conduct of athletics. We agree with him fully; that is why we engaged ourselves in this fight to keep our athletes away from the German shores. "Politics belong in sports," says Bruno Malitz, and we shudder at the thought. We are afraid that should our athletes set foot on Nazi land they will be contaminated by the doctrines which have set books on fire and inspired racial and religious riots. We don't want them to come home to sow the principles of hatred which the Nazis have made so peculiarly their own. Our athletes are ideal products of our American democracy. Let us keep them that way.

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