Non-fiction – society, biography, and literary and cultural history

Oliver Hilmes
Berlin 1936. Sechzehn Tage im August

© Siedler Verlag, München, 2016 Oliver Hilmes: Berlin 1936. Sechzehn Tage im August © Siedler Verlag, Munich, 2016The kiss attack takes place at the swimming competition on the penultimate day of the Olympic Games. Hitler is in the seat of honour when American tourist Carla de Vries fights her way up to his row. (…) Historian and writer Oliver Hilmes has dug out this kiss attack, documented in a historical film clip, and together with many other pieces of the jigsaw, has put together an impressive panorama of these sixteen days in August 1936, during which Germany endeavoured to present itself to the nations of the world as a wonderful host. A dense flow of the most diverse people passes by the reader, channelled by a strict literary order. (…) The American writer Thomas Wolfe plays a central role, definitely a Berlin enthusiast, who attends the Games at the invitation of publisher Ernst Rowohlt and does what he always does in Berlin: he goes through the streets from bar to bar and pub to pub. Wolfe is the only person who senses in spite of himself that something is out of joint with the land of his longing, that “an intellectual epidemic” has come over the city. Yet the regime does everything to conceal the fuel of inherent racism for sixteen days. (…)
Germany eats chalk to present an Olympic fairy tale to itself and the world while secretly the first plans are being made to start the war and in Sachsenhausen, just outside Berlin, a concentration camp is under construction.

Harald Jähner: „Nazideutschland fraß Kreide“
© Frankfurter Rundschau, 27 July 2016

Oliver Hilmes
Berlin 1936. Sechzehn Tage im August
Siedler Verlag, Munich, 2016
ISBN 978-3-82750-059-5
304 pages


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