Old OSU Oak Trees Commemorate Jesse Owens Accomplishments

Submitted by .ghost. on November 25th, 2011 at 4:33 AM

Researchers trying to determine for sure.


Mod Edit: I think the story is pretty neat, so I'm going to leave it up. Gist is that every gold medal winner in the 1936 Olympics got an oak sapling to commemorate the accomplishment. Owens was awesome at being an Olympian, so he got four. 

Suggesting someone is/was any type of Nazi other than a Grammar Nazi isn't going to stay on the board. [zl]



November 25th, 2011 at 5:05 AM ^

I think this article is kind of a reach. The Olympic Committee gave them the trees, not Hitler specifically. 

The most ridiculous thing about that time period was this. In 1936, in the United States, segregation and racial discrimination were still widely practiced, yet Jesse Owens and other African American athletes could go to Berlin, smack dab in the middle of Nazi Germany and do everything as equals. Of course, it must be said that 1) Not many African Americans lived in Germany, so no racist policies were established against them and 2) They made an effort to clean up Berlin and make it seem not as racist. 

Either way, it's a really fucked up world.


November 25th, 2011 at 9:02 AM ^

While I had just typed a couple hundred word response refuting your assertion that "Not many African Americans lived in Germany, so no racist policies were established against them ", which is absurd to say the least..

The mod's however adjusted the thread title and my post was wiped..

I suggest a simple Google search, and the reading of Robert Kesting's "The Black Experience During The Holocaust"..I'll leave you with this famous poster used to describe Nazi Racial views regarding Arabs/Orientals/Africans etc...


November 25th, 2011 at 10:42 AM ^

had an interview with a black citizen of Nazi Germany in his book The Good War, which makes the black experience under Nazism sound middling bad but survivable. Amazon search digs up another title, Destined to Witness; the author grew up learning the anti-Semitic party line in school alongside "nordic" schoolmates, but was crestfallen to discover he was racially ineligible for the Hitler Youth. His involvement in illegal jazz groups during the war was treated on about the same level as underage smoking or membership in gangs would be here.

This is from the Amazon Book Description for the latter book:

[Hans Massaquoi, former managing editor of Ebony magazine and the son of a German nurse and Al-Haj Massaquoi, the Liberian consul general to Germany [possible confusion in text here]] tells of life after the war, of befriending black American soldiers, of moving to Liberia in 1948 and of his subsequent move to America in 1950, where he came to feel that racism [against blacks alone, I presume] was as prevalent as it had been under the Third Reich.

When digesting that last clause, consider that in 1950, the condition of blacks in the US Deep South was considerably better than it had been at any time between 1896 and 1942. Reconstruction policies that put blacks from the US Deep South in the US congress in the 1870's went away sometime between the founding of the Ku Klux Klan and other terrorist groups in the 1870's, and the Supreme Court Plessy v. Ferguson Decision in 1896; from then until 1942, [tens of thousands of?] blacks in the Deep South lived in a system of de-facto slavery under a pervasive and prevalent system of thinly-disguised illegal detainment and peonage that fueled agricultural and industrial productivity. According to Douglas Blackmon's Slavery by Another Name, this peonage system was only finally challenged by the US federal government in General Francis Biddle's "Circular No. 3591" on 12/12/41, directly in response to the Pearl Harbor attack. Fear of foreign propaganda exploiting human rights violations in the US drove the change in US policy, as it did during the federal involvement in the human-rights struggles of the '60's at the height of the Cold War. So, for someone like Massaquoi, WWII Germany and WWII Alabama wouldn't have been that clear a choice, or if so, we wouldn't want to think about which one was better.


November 25th, 2011 at 6:01 AM ^

Anybody who gets a tree from the Olympic committee for exposing the idiocy of the Aryan lie is welcome to plant it wherever he'd like in my book, and should only be proud of it, even if it indirectly came from the guy whose lies he exposed.


November 25th, 2011 at 6:34 AM ^

I actually find it interesting that they  gave out the oak saplings and that, considering how travel was 1936, that they survived the trip back  to the US. 

In any event, I don't know how many people here have read "The Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich", but in the book, there is an interesting sidebar discussion on how hard the Olympic Committee and various Reich ministries worked to cover up - temporarily - the things which would have been objectionable to other nations, right down to removing the signs which barred Jews sitting on park benches and making foreign newspapers available for consumption. 


November 25th, 2011 at 7:55 AM ^

Read it. Absolutely fascinating. There's a lot of goofy crap that people talk about and people say, "nah, that's crazy. That could never happen..." well, a lot of crazy shit did happen right under the noses of the entire world, and the dude almost succeeded. How fast he rose to power and how easily he could persuade so many "rational" people to believe such vile things just boggles the mind.


November 25th, 2011 at 8:05 AM ^

Years ago, they made a documentary based on the book, and I loved how Shier started it:

"How could a people steeped in culture, cultivating the arts and sciences, a people who gave us Luther and Kant, Bach and Beethoven, collapse into  savage barbarism in the middle of the 20th century?"

The book answers this. 


November 25th, 2011 at 10:21 AM ^

the economy crippling sanctions placed on Germany after WWI, there would be no question on how Hitler rose to power so quickly and how there was so much willingness to follow his policies.

That's part of the reason the U.S. paid to rebuild Japan after the bomb was dropped. They didn't want to have another situation of serious racial hate for the rest of the world as the aftermath of a war. 


November 25th, 2011 at 10:42 AM ^

The loss of territory (notably the coal producing regions of the Saar and Silesia), the requirement to make reparations to the tune of about 130 billion marks (they actually finally made  the last payment just last year), and the military occupation of the Rhineland were humiliating and economically devestating, to say the least.

In particular, the reparations played no small part in Germany's hyperinflation (which became bad  enough that Reichsmarks were used as wallpaper in homes) and although there was some progess economically towards the end of the 20s, the Depression hit Germany harder than a lot of nations because of the cloud of sanctions. Sadly for the world,  the answer that seemed most attractive came from a former Austrian corporal and itinerant artist and political agitator. 


November 25th, 2011 at 2:05 PM ^

While there's no doubt that the Treaty of Versailles was harsh towards Germany, the reparations alone did not produce hyperinflation.  Making the loser of a European war lose territory and pay reparations was not new by any means (Germany had imposed both on France a generation earlier, for instance).   The Weimar German governments made some horrendous economic decisions that led to gigantic deficits and resultant hyperinflation.  The problem was that they used the treaty as a cover for their own failures, and so a generation of Germans came of age thinking that Versailles was responsible for their country's failures, and they naturally demanded vengeance.

In any event, the German economy largely recovered by about 1926 and was doing about the same as its neighbors when the Depression hit.  



November 25th, 2011 at 2:18 PM ^

Known in their time as "The November Criminals", of course, could not put together any sort of cohesive government filled with  competent people either. The lack of stability and a "government of the week" in Germany helped too. Never mind that, at one point, fringe groups tried to break Bavaria off the country and form an independent state. Notable putsches also occurred in Stuttgart and, of course, Munich (led by someone who would later lead Germany, of course). Strikes of protracted lengths in the Ruhr region didn't help the economy either. 

If I recall, reparation accounted for only about one-third of Germany's total debt right after the way, which I why I phrased it as I did. The other two-thirds were basically an inability to manage the country effectively.

What they tried to establish was difficult in a country that had, at that point, no firm democratic tradition. 


November 25th, 2011 at 4:02 PM ^

That's fair.  A general lack of leadership was the biggest problem, and the creation of a weak parliamentary regime did not help any.  The treaty (which certainly didn't help things) made for an easy scapegoat.  I do think people go a little far in vilifying the "Big Three" for the terms of Versailles.  They really weren't that overboard by the standards of the time.  They were arguably less harsh than the treaty Germany imposed on Russia (Brest-Litovsk) one year earlier.  Part of the problem was that German war propaganda throughout 1918 held that the country was on the brink of victory, instead of defeat, which then led to the myth after the war that Germany didn't lose,  but was "stabbed in the back" at the negotiating table. 

Versailles was a factor behind the rise of Hitler, but when people call it the factor, I can't quite agree. 

The team the t…

November 25th, 2011 at 8:59 AM ^

It wasn't hard to do when the U.S. was openly anti-semetic.  Parks often had signs up that read "No jews or dogs allowed in the park" and housing deeds all over the country were filled with racial exclusion clauses which typicall stated that no "negroes or jews" can enter the house unless employed a servant.  These exclusion laws were not outlawed until the 1960s.    Look up Detroit's "Berlin Wall."....aka 8 Mile which was the racial red-line that segregated the city.



November 25th, 2011 at 9:28 AM ^

When I worked in Detroit for DTE, this wall was in the middle of the "area" I usually had to troll so I walked a portion of it one day. Someone had  scrawled something in one corner which I found moving - "Irgendwann faellt jede Mauer", or "Eventually, every wall falls."

This was also  written on the Berlin Wall. 

The team the t…

November 25th, 2011 at 10:22 AM ^

...the grafitti, not the wall of course!

It's a fascinating history.  I grew up in Plymouth up through graduating HS.  I didn't know about this wall's existence or history until much later in life despite it being, well, right under my nose.  I'm curious as to how well known it is in the Detroit metro area today?  I left in '88 (went to university in NY and then lived in Ecuador for 5 years before settling in Minneapolis.   Minneapolis has it's own segregation history...the Mississippi river served as the 8-mile wall here.





November 25th, 2011 at 12:09 PM ^

there is this from the web site for Edwin Black's book War against the Weak:

American eugenic crusades proliferated into a worldwide campaign, and in the 1920s came to the attention of Adolf Hitler. Under the Nazis, American eugenic principles were applied without restraint, careening out of control into the Reich's infamous genocide. During the pre-War years, American eugenicists openly supported Germany's program. The Rockefeller Foundation financed the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute and the work of its central racial scientists. Once WWII began, Nazi eugenics turned from mass sterilization and euthanasia to genocidal murder. One of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute doctors in the program financed by the Rockefeller Foundation was Josef Mengele who continued his research in Auschwitz, making daily eugenic reports on twins. After the world recoiled from Nazi atrocities, the American eugenics movement — its institutions and leading scientists — renamed and regrouped under the banner of an enlightened science called " human="" genetics."

US eugenics flourished in the 1920's to spawn miscegenation laws preceding the Nuremberg Laws, forcible sterilization, and even human euthanasia at a mental institution in Lincoln, Illinois, years before the T4 program in Germany. Miscegenation prohibitions remained in the Alabama state constitution until 2001, and modern US immigration laws are directly descended from those of the 1882-1924 era, rooted in populist racism and elite eugenics policy.

The team the t…

November 25th, 2011 at 12:40 PM ^

Something tells me there are no discussions like this on an Ohio blog.    I posted a "Worst State Ever" image on my Facebook wall and the responses involved explaining why with references to Warren G. Harding,  Rutherford B. Hayes ending Reconstruction, the second "W" term and Amish on Amish violence!

Beat Ohio!


November 25th, 2011 at 2:12 PM ^

I believe the "Berlin Wall" was actually Alter Road (which separates Detroit from the Grosse Pointes), not 8 Mile.  Alter Road was - and still is - a much more jarring barrier in terms of race and socioeconomic class.  Both sides of 8 Mile are basically middle class; the one difference historically was race.  But when you cross Alter, you go from lower-class (and black) to upper-class (and white) all of a sudden.  And while the 8 Mile race border has been blurring for a few decades now (Warren is now 30% black, for instance), the Alter boundary remains very rigid even today.




November 25th, 2011 at 9:14 PM ^

I had to walk it for a few blocks during a storm one time. This is probably one of  the most bizarre roads in any metropolitan area, in some respects. Just  to the north of it are beautiful homes and well-kept gardens and lawns. Just blocks to the south, on streets like Marlborough in particular, blocks of overgrowth, virtually devoid  of human habitation. 

Incidentally, there are  throughgoing sidestreets east of Mack Avenue, and where the Grosse Pointe Park and Detroit meet, many  of these streets used to have cement barricades on the GPP side (I think nearly all  of them are gone now, or I can't remember seeing them for a long time now, and I used to be over there a lot when I worked the city). 


November 25th, 2011 at 8:04 AM ^

Got the tree for his accomplishments in the '36 Olympics, then it should be something that is celebrated. 

His efforts at those games were quite an accomplishment and stand counter to anything and everything Hitler stood for.

Owens is on the OSU short list of things that cannot be spited just because of OSU association.


November 25th, 2011 at 8:40 AM ^

I think Hitler has changed the tide on the rivalry. Hell people in Ohio are starting to believe him. Never in a million years I would have thought that. Planting Nazi trees is a good start.


November 25th, 2011 at 8:41 AM ^

The trees are just as bad as any medals received, which is not very.  It's simply a living trophy from the olymics, not some sort of Gestap-oak.

See what I did there.


November 25th, 2011 at 9:44 AM ^

Thanks to the Mods for changing the subject line. It is an interesting story. Those logging in later this morning might wonder why all negative votes: it was because of the original subject.  Reading through the comments gives a pretty good idea of what it was.


November 25th, 2011 at 8:31 PM ^

wow..am I the only one totally caught up in the Oak side of the story? That's pretty dang cool..LOVE that kind of trival hidden history stuff that one/possibly two of the olympic oaks still stand today because Owens stood against everything Hitler wanted and won...I've always been fascinated with Owens...my grandfather was at Ferry Field when he broke four world records. I still have the program with his pencil scratches in it, result by result with all the athletes' performances, names, affiliations...not to mention spending time with Red Simmons while I was at UM...guy is living history himself having raced Jessie...never get enough of this. Instead...I'm trying to figure out how to get a 'seedling' from this tree haaa.