In the news: Ghosts of Olympics past

With this year’s London Olympics fast approaching, the topic of previous Olympic Games has garnered much attention in UK newspapers. An article in yesterday’s Guardian by Alex von Tunzelmann focussed on the Berlin Olympics of 1936 and the movie Olympia, directed by Leni Riefenstahl.

Actress-turned-movie-director, Leni Riefenstahl, was termed a ‘wild woman’ by Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels—largely because he could not control the strong-willed Riefenstahl. Being in charge of every aspect of the German media, films included, Goebbels expected to hold dominion over/sleep with his leading actresses.

But Hitler liked her, and she liked him. A lot.

He met her first at a North Sea beach near Wilhelmshaven, and subsequently showered her with attention; so much so that people assumed they were having an affair. Was she Hitler’s mistress? reporters asked, when she visited New York.

Regardless of the truth, her artistic talent was undeniable. She broke new ground as producer, writer, editor and director in the male-dominated arena of film making.

Leni Riefenstahl lived to be 101 years old and was active to the end. She died very shortly after her marriage to her long-term companion—something that she and the Fuehrer had in common.

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