Thursday, 19 May 2011

Olympic Flames

One of the drawbacks of living in Greater London is that BBC London News keeps inflicting daily Olympic reports on you. The last 2 days have been all about the torch relay: where it's going and how will the police protect it? How many of those getting excited about this torch-bearing nonsense realise that it was begun by the Nazis? Claire Heald has dipped into the murky past of the torch for BBC News Magazine (title link). The Nazis loved their intimidating torchlit processions. The first Olympic torch (shown) was designed by sculptor Walter Lemcke and manufactured by armaments giant Freidrich Krupp. The flame was lit in Olympia, using the rays of the sun intensified by a parabolic mirror. From Greece - the home of the first great Aryan civilization from the Nazi point of view - the torch was carried through Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Austria and Czechoslovakia, a symbolic rehearsal for invasion. It reached Berlin to light the giant Olympic flame in a stadium draped in swastikas. Only three years later, flame and fire began to sweep across Europe at Hitler's command. Blitzkrieg, death-camp incinerators, doodlebugs and V2 rockets. Why on earth did Britain rekindle the Nazi torch for the 1948 Summer Olympiad? And why are people still cheering it?


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