With Nancy J. Farrier
|1936 Berlin logo|
|Parade of Nations|
Meanwhile, Adolf Hitler had a fascination with oak trees. He admired them for their strength and endurance. He used oak leaves in some of his insignia and symbols to show his power and his desire to accomplish much. Because of his love of oak trees he chose to give each gold medal Olympian an oak tree to take home with them.
|Japan's Hideko Maehata w/Oak Tree|
Of the more than 130 oak trees given out at the 1936 Olympic games only a few are still known to exist. Some were cut down because of the association with Hitler. Others were allowed to grow when people realized the oak tree was not to blame for what Hitler did.
|Jesse Owens_Wikimedia Commons|
One of the oak trees that is accounted for is the tree planted by Cornelius Johnson. I attended a talk given on the Olympic Oaks and the speaker told the story of find this tree and working to propagate new seedlings. Jesse Owens won four gold medals in the 1936 Olympics and planted his trees in the Midwest when he returned home. I don’t know where all the living trees are, but the story he told was fascinating and something I had never heard before.
One last note that he shared was Hitler’s desire to make a mark led to the planting of trees in a large forest in Germany. The larch trees he planted in a forest of evergreens would only show during the fall when they changed color and the symbol could only be seen by air. His strategy wasn’t discovered until the early 1990’s when a plane flew over doing an aerial survey in the fall. The trees Hitler had embedded in that forest, known today by some as the swastika forest, changed colors in the shape of a swastika. Many of those trees were cut down to eliminate the symbol. I find that sad to destroy the trees, but I do understand the reason.
Have you ever heard of the Olympic Oaks? Had you heard of the swastika forest? These were new to me, but a part of fascinating history.
Nancy J Farrier is an award winning author who lives in Southern California in the Mojave Desert. She loves the Southwest with its interesting historical past. Nancy and her husband have five children and two grandsons. When Nancy isn’t writing, she loves to read, do needlecraft, play with her cats, and spend time with her family. Nancy is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Literary Agency. You can read more about Nancy and her books on her website: nancyjfarrier.com.