Sunday, November 29, 2009

farmdoc's blog post number 588

This is the story of Gretel Bergmann. In June 1936 22-year-old Bergmann, a member of Germany’s Olympic Team, equalled the German high jump record of 5 feet 3 inches. But she wasn’t credited with the equal record. And she was ejected from the German Olympic Team so she didn’t compete in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. The reason? Bergmann was Jewish, and the Nazis wouldn’t risk a Jewish athlete winning an Olympic medal for Germany. In 1937 Bergmann migrated to the USA, married athlete Bruno Lambert, and changed her name to Margaret Lambert. Last week Lambert learned that Germany’s track and field association had recognised her joint record, calling its decision ‘an act of justice and a symbolic gesture’ while acknowledging it can in no way make up for the past. It also requested she be included in Germany’s sports hall of fame. “That’s very nice and I appreciate it. I couldn’t repeat the jump today. Believe me,” said the now 95-year-old Lambert, who lives in New York City. She said that in her high jumping days, the Nazis’ treatment of the Jews angered her and made her compete harder. “The madder I got the better I did,” she recalled. She said that decades later she forgave the Germans, deciding she shouldn’t blame the younger German generation for what their fathers and grandfathers did. I hope that after last week’s wonderful and unexpected German gesture, HBO will update its 2004 documentary: Hitler’s Pawn: the Margaret Lambert Story.

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