January 13, 2014

1936 Olympics - Garmisch - Partenkirchen, Germany

It is safe to say controversy reigned supreme in the 1936 Olympics, hosted by Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. The twin villages were granted the games over Montreal and St. Moritz.

This is Rudi Ball, the 25 year old was the captain of the 1936 Olympic team, his second time at the Olympics. When his career ended he would be one of the most decorated German players of all time, with 8 German championships, a 1932 Olympic bronze medal and participation in four time world championships under his belt. In 1930 the French Sports Magazine labelled him the best hockey player in Europe. Ball and his brothers Gerhard and Heinz were hockey heroes in Germany.

There was one big problem in 1936 though. Adolf Hitler's Germany was hosting the Olympics, and his hatred Jewish people and other minorities was becoming world-renowned. Ball, a legend of hockey in Germany and the team captain, was of Jewish descent.

The Germans initially refused to include Ball, no doubt an order from a government official much higher up than the hockey officials. That's when Gustav Jaenecke, Ball's good friend and teammate not to mention a real hockey star, stepped in. He refused to play unless Ball was included.

Without Ball and Jaenecke the Germans knew there was no chance they could repeat as Olympic medalists on home ice. They wanted to win as many medals as possible, to display their superiority. They allowed Ball to play, and allowed his family to leave Germany and flee the coming horrors of the Nazis.

The Germans finished in 5th place, thanks largely to an injury suffered by Ball which ended his tournament prematurely.

Ball was one of only two Jewish athletes to represent Germany at the 1936 games. Helene Mayer, a fencer, also represented Germany despite her Jewish heritage and despite living in the United States since 1933. She won a silver medal.

Other Notable Players

Before we move on to the main protagonists on the ice, Canada and Britain, let's take a quick look at the more notable players for other countries.

Japan featured a goaltender, Teiji Honma, wearing a rarely seen mask.

Czechoslovakia had a strong team led by Josef Malecek and Ladislav Trojak.

The United States won the bronze with no notable players in history's eyes. John Garrison Gordon Smith had returned from the 1932 team.

Germany had a player who likely had the longest name in Olympic hockey history - Joachim Albrecht von Bethmann-Hollweg.

Austria, Hungary, Latvia and Sweden also participated.

Many of the games were played in front of sparse crowds on the natural ice of the frozen Lake Riessersee. Canada's first game was played in a blinding snowstorm, with the game delayed for several minutes while they once tried to find the puck.

Controversy In Canada

Long before the Olympics even began there was controversy in Canada.

The Canadians were unable to send the 1935 Allan Cup champion Halifax Wolverines, as too many of their players had moved away and were now playing with different teams. So Canada selected the Allan Cup runner-ups, the Port Arthur Bear Cats, but with one stipulation: the CAHA could add players to the roster if they wished.

The Bear Cats were another team with no notable players to mention, then or now. Jakie Nash was their goalie. Ray Milton and captain Herman Murray played defense. Alexander Sinclair, Bill Deacon, Ralph St. Germain, Dave Neville, Bill Thomson and Ken Farmer made up the forward spots. Norm Friday and Gus Saxberg made the trip but did not play. The Cats were coached by former Toronto Maple Leafs forward Al Pudas.

The CAHA initially wanted four Halifax hold-overs to join the team - Sylvester Bubar, Vic Ferguson, Chummy Lawlor and Ernie Mosher. But they balked, demanding $150 a month for three months to compensate their loss of wages and family time. Since that would not fly in the face of amateur status, they were dropped. Added instead were Pud Kitchen of the Toronto Dukes, Hugh Farquharson of the Montreal Victorias, Dinty Moore of the Port Colborne Sailors and Jim Haggarty, a one time Bear Cat now playing for the Wembley Canadians in Britain.

Controversy in Britain

The Port Arthur Bear Cats may not have even been the best Canadian hockey players at the 1936 Olympics. That title may have gone to the Great Britain team, who invited several British born athletes who grew up and played hockey in Canada. These players included Art Child, James Chappell, and Archibald Stinchcombe, all of whom secured permission of the CAHA beforehand, and noted scorer Alex Archer and superb goaltender Jimmy Foster, who did not.

Canada protested the inclusion of Archer and Foster. Canada would drop their complaints three days into the Olympics, in "the interest of Olympic spirit." They also secured an agreement preventing countries, specifically Britain, from borrowing other countries athletes on the basis of birthplace, not by residency or citizenship.

Britain's Controversial Gold Medal

Archer and Foster would be allowed to play, and that would come back to bite Canada. Great Britain upset Canada 2-1 in the preliminary round. That's where even more controversy erupted.

Olympic officials opted to read the rule book differently than Canada and other nations had assumed they were playing with, screwing the Canadians in the process. In "one of the worst manipulations in sporting history" the Olympic authorities announced after the second round was over that second round matches would count in third round medal matches. Thus, Canada would not get a chance to take on Britain again and avenge the loss. With Britain winning their remaining games, there was no chance for Canada to capture the gold medal.

Britain became the first nation other than Canada to win gold at Olympic ice hockey. Here's two different photographs of the British team:

Here's some amazing YouTube footage of the game between Canada and the USA:

Olympic Hockey History

GreatestHockeyLegends.com is the home of an extensive history of Olympic hockey. You can view each Olympic hockey tournament (men's and women's) below by clicking on the year of your choice. You can also enjoy my profiles of Olympic Hockey Legends.

1920 - Antwerp, Belgium
1924 - Chamonix, France
1928 - St. Moritz, Switz.
1932 - Lake Placid, USA
1936 - G.P., Germany
1940 - No Games - WWII
1944 - No Games - WWII
1948 - St. Moritz, Switz.
1952 - Oslo, Norway
1956 - Cortina, Italy
1960 - Squaw Valley, USA
1964 - Innsbruck, Austria
1968 - Grenoble, France
1972 - Sapporo, Japan
1976 - Innsbruck, Austria
1980 - Lake Placid, USA
1984 - Sarajevo, Yugoslavia
1988 - Calgary, Canada
1992 - Albertville, France
1994 - Lillehammer, Norway
1998 - Nagano, Japan
2002 - Salt Lake City, USA
2006 - Torino, Italy

2010 - Vancouver, Canada


Jussi said...

The coach of Canada`s 1936 Olympic team, Al Pudas, played three games for the Toronto St.Patricks in 1926, just before the team was renamed the Maple Leafs.

Pudas was born in Finland, but his parents immigrated to Thunder Bay when he was an infant. In Finland he is known as the first Finnish-born NHL-player. His birthname was actually Putaansuu, but it was shortened and changed a little in Canada.

There is a report in an old FInnish olympic publication that Pudas talked to the FInnish athletes and coaches a lot at the 1936 games and there had been some talk about him going over to Finland to coach hockey there. But this idea never materialized.

Pudas passed away in 1976 in Thunder Bay. His one and only hockey card appears in the WInnipeg based Paulins Chocolate set of 1923.

Another Finnish-born, Thunder Bay-raised and better known former NHL player Pentti Lund knew Pudas.

Joe Pelletier said...

Great stuff Jussi.

Pudas is the only coach in Team Canada history who was not born in Canada.

He was also a highly respected referee later on.

Anonymous said...

I am astonished that more attention has not been paid to Goalie Jimmy Fosters accomplishments during the 1936 Winter Olympic Ice Hockey tournament since He may have had the Greatest tournament ever for an Olympic Goaltender.

ironpigpen said...

I always enjoy your work very, very much, Mr. Pelletier.

But I am 99.9% certain that RUDI BALL was not the captain of the 1936 Germany Olympic team.

It was probably GUSTAV JAENECKE, the contemporary SC Berlin star and German national team scoring machine who had shifted back on defense and was competing at his third Winter Olympics in 1936.

As I am sure you know, there was a great controversy over the inclusion of Ball in the '36 German Olympic team. There were a few factors that went in to the decision by Nazi officials to allow Ball to play. One of those was the fact that the superstar Jaenecke made it known he would not play unless Ball was selected and this carried weight because of his status.

It's a good question : who was the 1936 German captain? I will research this further and get back to you, sir.

The Reichtrainer (national coach) at this time was the Canadian, BOBBY HOFFINGER, who would be succeeded by another Canadian, BOBBY BELL, after the 35/36 season.



PS - you may enjoy :

"Light Before The Dark"
"Lake Placid '32 : Germany Had A Ball"
"Hitler's Germany Dropped Ball"


Martin C. Harris said...

The rules were not changed regarding the playing format. It was made clear twice by the LIHG (forerunner of the IIHF) during meetings at Garmisch that results from the preliminary round would carry through to the final round.

At the first meeting on Feb 3 when the rules were explained the Canadian and American delegates were absent for reasons unknown. At the second meetng the next day when they were present the rule regarding carrying result and points gained was explained again. The Canadian delegates rised no objections - see the LIHG minutes.

Later the CAHA President E.A. Gilroy 'attributed the problem of understanding the format to the Canadian delegation's deficiency in understanding French which was used for the offical business of the LIHG' - see Lord of the Rinks, chapter 12, end note 14 by John Chi-Kit Wong, published in 2005 by Toronto University Press.

Anonymous said...

Great Britain did NOT do anything illegal as far as the eligibility of its Players were concerned because their Players were BORN in Great Britain. The Tournament Format was explained to the Teams BEFORE the 1936 Winter Olympic Ice Hockey Tournament began. The main reason Great Britain won the Gold Medal was because they had the best Goaltender that Olympic Year in JIMMY FOSTER!

Unknown said...

Jimmy Haggarty went on to play professionally for the Montreal Royals for a number of years,had a brief stint with the Montreal Canadiens in 1941-42 and in his prime enlisted in the Canadian military to fight in World War II. Upon returning from war he played with he Montreal Royals, won the Allen Cup and then later refereed in the NHL.