The Boys in the Boat. By Daniel James Brown. The book I read a few months ago. It still has an eerie impact on me.
What if you live in a place wherein you know nearby, that a murder took place. When you are walking around your environs, you just get the feeling that someone will stab you at the back or cover your nose with a cloth moistened with spirit of ammonia.
The similarity with the book is this. It concerns the eight man rowing team of the USA to the 1936 Berlin Olympics. As history buffs might know, it was the time when Hitler was at the peak of his power in Germany. He wanted to show the world the genetic superiority of the Aryan race. He was humiliated by the seven gold medals by the black American Jesse Owens in athletics. It is little known that Germany also suffered an embarrassing defeat in the eight man rowing competition to the gold medalists, the USA team.
Rowing events were held on a lake in a place which was so picture perfect. While the rowers were pumping away on their boats in the water, couples, families, or friends would lay out their picnic mantels on the green grass surrounding the lake and then spread out their pitchers of cold lemonade and tasty sausages.
Picture the above. Picture perfect.
Little did the foreign athletes know what took place a few weeks before the Olympics. Hitler sanitized Berlin. He had strict instructions to gather up all the beggars and homeless people from the streets. Homes and buildings with peeling paint were repainted.
Just less than a kilometer away from the lake, thousands of Jews were being exterminated in a concentration camp a few weeks before the competition. Then it stopped. The rowing events started and then ended. The foreigners went back to their respective countries.
Then one week after the Olympics, the beggars and the homeless were thrown back into the streets. And the spilling of blood in the nearby concentration camp started again.
Never again please allow this historical fact to ever occur again.