'Hitler did shake hands with Jesse Owens' | world | Hindustan Times
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'Hitler did shake hands with Jesse Owens'

world Updated: Aug 11, 2009 17:02 IST
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The sporting history's greatest mystery over whether Nazi leader Adolf Hitler shook hands with Jesse Owens at the Berlin Olympics in 1936, after the black US athlete won four gold medals, has finally been solved.

At that time, it was reported that Hitler had stormed out of the stadium furious over Owens's four Olympic victories which he had considered a big blow to his intention to use the Olympic Games to demonstrate Aryan superiority.

Now, 73 years on, a veteran sports reporter in Germany has come forward to claim that though Hitler did indeed leave the stadium after the race it wasn't before shaking hands with black Owens.

Siegfried Mischner (83) has claimed that Owens carried around a photo in his wallet of the Fuhrer doing just that.

Owens, who felt the newspapers of the day reported "unfairly" on Hitler's attitude towards him, even tried to get Mischner and his journalist colleagues to change the accepted version of history in the 1960s, the 'Daily Mail' reported.

Mischner has claimed Owens showed him the photograph and told him: "That was one of my most beautiful moments."

Mischner was quoted as saying: "It was taken behind the honour stand and so not captured by the world's press. But I saw it, I saw him shaking Hitler's hand.

"The predominating opinion in post-war Germany was that Hitler had ignored Owens. We therefore decided not to report on the photo. The consensus was that Hitler had to continue to be painted in a bad light in relation to Owens."

Mischner, who went on to write a book about the 1936 Olympics, said other journalists were with him on the day that Owens produced the photo and they too did not report on it.

"Owens was disappointed. He shook his head disapprovingly. The press then was very obedient. I can make no excuses, but no one wanted to be the one to make Hitler the monster look good.

"All my colleagues are dead, Owens is dead. I thought this was the last chance to set the record straight. I have no idea where the photo is or even if it exists still," he said.

Owens died of lung cancer in Arizona in 1980. He was 66 years old.