Make Love, Not War
It was an ordinary summer day. In Berlin, the 1936 Olympic Games were in full swing. Chancellor Adolf Hitler, dressed in full uniform despite the heat, was in the front row, watching the men's 1500 meter freestyle. Next to him was venerable General Anton Ludwig August von Mackensen, one of only five men to earn the Gold Cross of the Iron Cross in World War I. There were 20,000 people in the stadium, and the German team was doing well.
|The 1936 Olympic swimming pool.|
A woman walking by decided to take the Fuhrer's picture. Bored, the Fuhrer gave her a nice pose. The woman, encouraged, then stepped forward and asked for an autograph. The Fuhrer allowed the guards to let her through, and he signed her swimming ticket.
Suddenly, the woman leaned in. The Fuhrer, startled, backed off. Then, she tried again. Hitler, now amused, playfully pretended to evade her, and then allowed her to succeed. Below is video of the incident.
|The Sydney Morning Herald, August 17, 1936|
After that, the crowd roared. A German police officer came and escorted the lady away - not out of the stadium, but back to her seat. Everything then returned to normal, with the Fuhrer clapping his hands in delight as the lady returned to anonymity. Rather than take advantage of the incident for publicity, Hitler let it pass, and the German press never reported the odd incident.
Hitler might have re-thought that decision if he had known that the woman was an American. Months later, her local press in the States caught wind of the incident upon her return home, and it ultimately became a worldwide story.
Wife of Californian Surprised at Stir She Caused.Norwalk, Calif., November 2
The Milwaukee Sentinel, November 3, 1936
Admitting surprise at comments caused by her stolen kiss from Chancellor Hitler during the Olympic games in Berlin, Mrs. Carla de Vries returned to her home here today.
"Why, I simply embraced him because he appeared so friendly and gracious" said Mrs. De Vries, wife of George de Vries, dairyman.
"People sitting near Der Fuehrer's box began to cheer and applaud so loudly that I ran back to my husband and told him we had better leave.
I don't know why I did it. Certainly I hadn't planned such a thing. It's just that I'm a woman of impulses, I guess.
It happened when I went down to take Hitler's picture with my small movie camera. Hitler was leaning forward, smiling, and he seemed so friendly that I just stepped up and asked for his autograph, which he wrote on my swimming ticket. He kept on smiling and so I kissed him."
Her brother-in-law was quoted saying that:
"She wanted to meet Hitler but I'm surprised at the way she did it!"
|Nevada State Journal, August 24, 1936|
The Sydney clip above reads as follows:
HERR HITLER Kissed by Excited Woman During Olympic SwimmingBerlin, Aug. 15.
The Sydney Morning Herald, August 17, 1936
Shortly before the finish of the men's 1500 metres free-style swimming to-day, a plump woman, conspicuous in a red hat whom Black Guards repeatedly prevented from photographing Herr Hitler at close range, broke the cordon during the excitement of the finish of the race, shook Herr Hitler by the hand and then kissed him, while the crowd of 20,000 rocked with laughter. Herr Hitler, who was in high spirits, joined in the fun, clapping his hands as the woman returned triumphantly to her seat.
Herr Hitler arrived Just before the race, and sat with Field-Marshal Mackensen on a plain hard seat. He showed great excitement during the race, swaying from side to side, and rarely taking his eyes off the German swimmer, Arendt, till it was clear he would be beaten. Herr Hitler rose to his feet, applauding an exciting fight for second place.
Terada (Japan) made a new Olympic record, and won by 20 yards from Medica (U.S.A.), who beat Uto (Japan) by a touch.
After the kissing incident, the aquatic events continued amusingly. The water polo final between Germany and Belgium was prefaced by the incongruous spectacle of the German team, clad only In slips, bobbing up In the water and shouting: "Heil, Hitler."
The match was played in a bedlam of whistling and Jeering. There were shouts to the French referee to send out players. Fouls were frequent, and three players of either side were temporarily suspended.
Herr Hitler shared the excitement of the crowd. He was never still, and looked as grim as any onlooker as incidents developed or a goal threatened. Herr Hitler remained to the end. He received farewell aquatic "Heils" from the victorious Germans, and departed through a lane of extended arms.