In Berlin's huge Olympic Stadium, packed by 110,000 spectators, Reichsführer Adolf Hitler stopped chatting with his good friend Cinemactress Leni Riefenstahl, official Olympic photographer, long enough to discharge last week his sole function at the XIth Olympic Games. Said he: "I proclaim open the Olympic Games of Berlin, celebrating the XIth Olympiad of the modern era." Trumpets sounded across the arena. On a flagpole, the Olympic Flagwhite with five interlocking circles representing the five continentswas slowly raised. Outside the stadium, guns boomed. Atop the staircase at the East gate appeared the last runner of the 3,000 who had relayed the Olympic Flame from Olympia in Greece. He scampered down the steps, paddled across the arena, trotted up the west stairs to a platform, dipped his torch. The Olympic Fire flared up from its bowl and the Games were under way.
Parade. First item on the program was the parade. The Olympic Bell tolled and into the stadium marched 5,000 athletes. Leading, because their country started the Olympic Games in 776 B. C., were the Greeks. Next, at the head of the German alphabetical list were the Egyptians. Loudest applause went to Austrians who gave the Nazi salute, to goose-stepping Bulgarians, to a Swiss flag-bearer who did juggling tricks. English athletes got few cheers. Next to last, the U. S. team members saluted Realmleader Hitler by placing their straw hats over their hearts. The crowd shouted, whistled, clapped in unison. The noise was soon drowned by the ovation for the German team which, as host, entered the arena last of all. When all the athletes had lined up neatly on the green infield, Dr. Theodor Lewald, head of the German Organizing Committee, made a 20-minute speech to introduce Herr Hitler, who, dressed in a brown uniform, had arrived an hour before.
Oath. After the ceremony of the Olympic Torch came the Olympic Oath. Gnarled old Spiridon Loues, Greek marathon runner who won the Olympic race in 1896, wobbled out of the ranks to present Herr Hitler with an olive branch. The 50 flag-bearers formed a semicircle in front of the reviewing stand. German Weightlifter Rudolf Ismayr mounted a tiny rostrum, recited through amplifiers so everyone could hear: "We swear that we will take part in the Olympic Games in loyal competition, respecting the regulations which govern them and desirous of participating in them in the true spirit of sportsmanship, for the honor of our country and the glory of sport." A German choir sang Handel's Hallelujah Chorus, the athletes marched slowly out.
Biggest and noisiest in history, the 1936 Olympics were scheduled to last for 16 days. Five thousand athletes from 50 countries will compete in 22 sports, watched by 3,500,000 spectators, recorded by 1,500 reporters. To accommodate all this, Berlin, cheated of the 1916 Olympics by the War, spent $24,000,000 on municipal improvements; a 325-acre Reichssportfeld including four stadiums, an outdoor theatre, basketball courts, pools, a polo field, a gymnasium; and an Olympic Village conveniently close to Staaken Airport which can use it for barracks when the Games are over.