Denazification, Democratization, and the Cold War: Diplomatic Manipulation of the German Olympic Committee




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University of Arkansas Press


Book chapter

Peer reviewed



The western Allies paid careful attention to the re-formation of athletic clubs in occupied Germany as part of the policies of using sport as a way to help with the democratization process after the Second World War. The High Commissioners and their respective governments – particularly the Americans – became intimately involved with the composition of the German Olympic Committee in 1949, the year Allied occupation of Western Germany ended and the Federal Republic of Germany came into existence. Allied interest in the German Olympic Committee persisted through 1951, when the International Olympic Committee formally readmitted Germany. Germany's reintroduction into the Olympic movement was thus marked by political involvement not only by its Chancellor, Konrad Adenauer, but in particular by foreign intervention.

The Allies pushed for international acceptance of Germany, but the Nazi pasts of many German sport leaders created problems. This chapter will examine these meddling actions on the part of State Department, HICOG, and Foreign Office officials into Germany return to the Olympic movement and international sport in general, and how the moral aims of denazification and democratization ultimately were subverted to the politics of the Cold War as the Soviet bloc pushed for a separate recognition of East Germany.

These actions reveal a clear and concerted effort by foreign ministries, and especially the U.S. State Department, to use international sport to meet their needs. The eagerness with which IOC members – including future IOC president Brundage, perhaps the biggest public advocate for the separation of sport and politics – corresponded with their governments left a legacy of government positions influencing, via correspondence and in-person meetings, the actions of international sport leaders.



sport, Olympics, Germany, occupation, travel


Heather L. Dichter, “Denazification, Democratization, and the Cold War: Diplomatic Manipulation of the German Olympic Committee,” in Defending the American Way of Life, ed. Kevin Witherspoon and Toby Rider (Little Rock: University of Arkansas Press, 2018)


Research Institute

Institute of History