Sunday, September 19, 2010

K. Schiller & C. Young's "The 1972 Munich Olympics and the Making of Modern Germany"

Kay Schiller is Senior Lecturer in History at Durham University. His books on German-Jewish refugee scholars during National Socialism include Gelehrte Gegenwelten and Weltoffener Humanismus (edited with Gerald Hartung). Christopher Young is Reader in Modern and Medieval German Studies and Head of the Department of German and Dutch at the University of Cambridge. He is the author of Narrativische Perspektiven in Wolframs Willehalm and a coauthor of History of the German Language through Texts.

They applied the “Page 99 Test” to their new book, The 1972 Munich Olympics and the Making of Modern Germany, and reported the following:
Page 99 illustrates one important theme of our recently published book The 1972 Munich Olympics and the Making of Modern Germany: the German politics of the Nazi past as they were played out on occasion of these Games. At this point of the book we show how the appearance of the 1936 Berlin Olympics perhaps surprisingly but strongly informed that of Munich. For obvious reasons, the Munich organizers rejected the nationalistic and militaristic atmosphere of the so-called 'Nazi Games', especially the monumentalism of the Berlin Olympic venues. However, contrary to common assumptions, they were equally entranced by Berlin's aesthetic punch and sought to emulate it by creating an impressive and memorable image for Munich. The Games' chief designer Otl Aicher's choice of the Univers font for all Olympic publications and the famous sports pictograms (along with the bright and light Olympic colours, posters, stadia and garden architecture discussed later in the same chapter) were crucial in achieving this. The 1972 Games thus became an important symbolic marker for the post-war modernization of Germany, which is our central theme.

This theme is discussed in manifold other ways throughout the book: in the successful workings of German co-operative federalism in organizing and financing the Games; the selling of these Olympics to domestic and foreign audiences, especially across the Atlantic; the urban renewal of what was effectively Germany's 'secret capital' during the Cold War; the crucial impact of the youth unrest of 1968 on a spectacle by and for 'the youth of the world'; the development towards a peaceful coexistence between the two German states in the late 1960s and 70s to, finally, the terrorist attack which so far has overshadowed all other narratives of these Games. A review of the book in The New Republic ran under the title 'The Rest of Munich'. In the sense that our primary aim was to tell for the first time the story of a landmark national and international event before it was destroyed by international terrorism, this is certainly a fitting title. On the other hand, given the range of topics we cover (including the terrorist attack and its complicated aftermath in the public and diplomatic spheres) 'All of Munich' might be equally appropriate.
Read more about The 1972 Munich Olympics and the Making of Modern Germany at the University of California Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue