This was the day when an American woman spectator at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, finding Adolf Hitler “so friendly and gracious”, leaned over and kissed him. There were ungracious consequences for the Fuehrer’s guards.
It happened during the 1500 metres freestyle swimming event, which was being watched by 40-year-old Carla de Vries, an American tourist who went to the Games with her husband.
She was intrigued to see Hitler sitting at the front of his box and tried several times to get near so that she could take a photograph, but each time she was blocked by Black Guards.
She managed, though, to break through the cordon during the excitement of the finish of the race, shook Hitler’s hand and then kissed him, while the crowd rocked with laughter.
Hitler, seemingly in high spirits, joined in the fun, clapping his hands as the woman returned triumphantly to her seat.
Mrs de Vries said later: “I simply embraced him because he appeared so friendly and gracious. 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. He 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. People sitting near his box began to cheer and applaud so loudly that I ran back to my husband and told him we had better leave.”
On protection duty that day were members of the Schutzstaffel, the Black Guards who were to form the much-feared SS. But on this occasion they could not even stop the advances of a middle-aged woman.
An unsmiling and ungracious Hitler later saw to it personally that several of them were dismissed and others demoted.
Published: July 1, 2016