The Olympic flame will burn brightly in Rio de Janeiro tomorrow night to mark the start of the 2016 Games. Eighty years ago, the flame glowed in Berlin, during far darker times in Olympic history.
One hundred thousand people came to watch the opening ceremony of the 1936 Games. As this British Pathé video shows, Adolf Hitler arrived by motorcade, marched around the running track and greeted a little girl. Nazi flags adorned the circular stadium.
A packed-out crowd joined Hitler in salute before the teams paraded their national flags. The music was triumphant but most of the athletes wore solemn expressions. The Italians, dressed in black shirts, saluted Hitler as they passed.
The German team came out last, behind the Nazi emblem, hands uniformly extended in salute. Hitler declared the eleventh Olympiad officially open and the crowd respond with a chorus of what sounds like “Heil.”
The now-essential tradition of lighting the Olympic flame started at the Berlin Games. The video ends with the raising of the Olympic flag and a blond German athlete who lights the flame, takes the Olympic oath, and ushers in the most unsettling two-week sporting event in modern memory.
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