Olympic fire

36 years ago, Hermann Jeswick of the swimming club ” Hellas Tetschen ” handed the torch to the first runner in Germany 

by Willi End, 1972

We are in the middle of the Olympic year 1972. The youth of the world is preparing for peaceful competition. The sporting goals: ever higher, ever further, ever faster, will again celebrate new triumphs. Full of enthusiasm we will sit on the screens and follow the events in Munich.

Pictures of the last Olympics on German soil will be competing in our memories. Back then, 36 years ago, as Sudeten Germans, we were still separated from the Reich by state borders. The latitudinal work in gymnastics and sport was with us, and we should not forget that, much higher than in the Reich.

When it became known that the Olympic flame on its 300 km long route from Athens to Berlin on the border of our home area is handed over to a German by a Sudeten German runner, the jubilation was especially great. What that meant for us can only be measured by those who still remember the political conditions of that time. This would have been impossible in the case of a “normal” course of development, but it was written in 1936. Foreign countries had already become aware of the “Sudeten German question”. Nevertheless, it took even tougher negotiations to obtain the participation. The swimming club “Hellas Tetschen” sat down with Berlin and Prague connected and had success. Here is especially Lm. Erich Klicpera mentioned, who deftly set everything in motion to achieve this goal.

Six Sudeten German runners ( Hermann Seswick , Josef Klieber , Erich Klicpera , Adolf Gierschik , Karl Simm and Karl Berger ) were fortunate enough to carry the torch with the Olympic flame through a part of the German-speaking area in Czechoslovakia.  Hermann Jeswick was the last to hand over the flame to a Reich German runner. The transfer took place on the border of Peterswald-Hellendorf .

It was a tremendous jubilation and an unparalleled enthusiasm. By the thousands we lined the streets. Carrier pigeons were left open. We had accepted a long way to get there just to be part of it. But we hear Hermann Jeswick himself who tells vividly about it:

Invitation by Leni Riefenstahl

“When the run was over and I was watching the blazing fire at the Reichsgrenze with my steel shaft, which every runner was allowed to keep as a souvenir, a car stopped next to me. Inside was Leni Riefenstahl , who shot the official Olympics film. There were shaking hands and friendly welcome. She invited me to come to Berlin ! I asked to take a friend with me, which was granted. “

The trip to Berlin

“I had more concerns. Everything is overcrowded in Berlin . How should we get there, where should we live? “Do not worry,” said Leni Riefenstahl . “You will receive an Olympic passport, then you will go to Berlin and you will see how it goes on.” That was on a Friday. On Tuesdays we drove to Berlin in pouring rain . We used our bicycles because we could win an Olympic medal for a trip to Berlin , which had to run over 800 km. We chose the route to reach this mileage.

In Berlin , we had some difficulties at first, because they did not want to let us in. Our suit was also adventurous. You have to imagine, we were in leather pants, had a Janker and a hat on. But I contacted the Olympia staff in the office. And they already knew we were both coming. We received a pass. “

Box seat next to the Reich government

“Of course we wanted to go to the stadium right away. The porter told us: “Your entrance is on the south front.” Well, we just walked to this gate, a wide marble path was laid out, a guard stood in front of it, we showed our ID card and were taken to our place high, down the stairs.servants and supervisors stood at the top.When we came to the tribune, there sat the whole Reich government.We have of course recognized them all.The Reichsführer came up to us and greeted us.

He looked a little puzzled when we were in leather pants, but since we had the pass, everything was fine. We were allowed to sit in the box. Just as we sat down, the misfortune happened at the relay race of the ladies. The Germans lost the rod and retired. Well, that was a loss. Adolf Hitler then let the four girls come up. Of course they cried bitterly. We were very close. That was our experience at the 1936 Olympics. “

Princely reception in the quarter

“Our quarters were not far from the stadium. It was a spare room for special guests. The lady we stayed with was just as surprised when she saw us. She received us royally. We introduced ourselves and explained the matter. So we were very welcome. In a marble bathroom we refreshed ourselves. The water splashed out of marble pigeons. Everything was fantastic for us. “

The way home

“After the Olympics, we rode our bicycles across Germany. About complaints we came to Stralsund . At that time I did not realize that I would end up there almost exactly 10 years later. As a displaced person. In 1946 I was surprised to see this city again.

Because I was so attached to the torch, she packed my wife on expulsion and put it in her luggage. Also in 1956, when fleeing the East Zone, she was taken on adventurous ways to the West. – From Tetschen – Altstadt we came via Stralsund to Ludwigsburg-Oßweil . My friend died in Waiblingen two years ago . More than 1000 marks have already been offered to me for the torch. Although I did not feel well sometimes, I would not part with this piece for all the money in the world. It is, apart from a few pictures, the only possession we could save from the lost homeland. “

“As thanks to the wearer”

With full justified pride, Jes . Jeswick shows his visitors the salvaged steel shaft that reminds him of this time. “As thanks to the carrier – Organizing Committee for the XI. Olympics Berlin 1936 “engraved in stainless steel, including the 3000 km long track that took the Olympic flame at the last Olympics before the war: Olympia – Athens – Delphi – Thessaloniki – Sofia – Belgrade – Budapest – Vienna – Prague – Dresden – Berlin .

At that time, as in the past, Krupp donated the torches. Our thoughts, however, go back to the land of our origins and with the images of that time awakens in us the memory of a lived time and urges us not to forget the home. Our Lm. Jeswick and his comrades but today we still have our thanks for the relay race back then.

Willi End