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6, December 2008, 691–706
Architecture as a mode of self-representation at the Olympic Games in Rome (1960) and Munich (1972)*
Eva Maria Modrey*
Justus-Leibig-University, Giessen, Germany ( Received 30 April 2008; ﬁnal version received 20 September 2008 ) The Olympic Games are a major media event that draws attention all over the world. This tremendous media coverage gives the host country in particular the opportunity to introduce itself to a global audience and at the same time to transport a national identity as well as a political statement. This article shows, by analysing the architecture of the Olympic Games in Rome (1960) and Munich (1972), how a political statement can be transported by sports facilities. This kind of view assumes an understanding of politics, which not only includes political action in general. Item cultural events can be used as an object of investigation for analysing a political self-conception. In this way the article points out the function of sports facilities besides the capacity as a place for competition. The ‘new political history’, which develops in combination with the ‘cultural history’, argues that symbolism is a mode of communication that gives access to the sociopolitics of the past. The article elaborates the different factors which impact on the meaning of a symbol and points out the different opportunities for interpretation. According to Umberto Eco, the article understands the stadium as a sign that is turned, primarily by media and social interpreting, into an architectural symbol. In a last step it takes this interpretation in a broader context to deﬁne a political statement of Italy and Germany at the respective time. Keywords: Olympic Games; architecture; Germany
The ongoing debate about the XXIX Olympic Games, which has taken place in the summer of 2008 in Bejing, China, renews the crucial question of the relationship between sports and politics. The controversial decision of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to give the Olympic Games to China, a country with a history of human rights violations, has turned the ‘sporting event’ into a general quarrel between different political positions. Certainly, the Chinese Olympic Games are not the ﬁrst example of the political dimension of the Olympic Games. Olympic history offers numerous examples for their political instrumentalization, starting in ancient times and continuing with their new ‘invention’ in 1894.1 Yet it is not just the obvious political abuse that has to be mentioned here. Previous studies have shown that the Olympic Games in general give the host country the opportunity to present itself to a global audience and make a political statement that will be heard around the world.2 Even though the statutes of the IOC3 are very strict, the host nations have the opportunity to shape the individual character of their Olympic Games and, to do so, host countries utilise symbols and rituals. Typical examples include the design of the Games, for example by
*This article based on a lecture was given at the conference ‘New Political History in transnational perspective’, 15 – 16 February 2008 at the EUI in Florence. *Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
ISSN 1350-7486 print/ISSN 1469-8293 online q 2008 Taylor & Francis DOI: 10.1080/13507480802500632 http://www.informaworld.com
why and to what extent the design of the respective stadium s resembled the speciﬁc self-conceptions of both democratic states after the Second World War is of special interest. fascism and dictatorship. While in the Munich case the aim is to explain how a new sports complex is charged with meaning. but rather as an integral component of it.M. Because of the Second World War. media and politics in the cultural context of the Olympic Games. this article applies an extended deﬁnition of politics which does not merely include political action but.4 Even in ancient times. It can also be understood as a space for national representation and as a symbol for national self-conceptualisation in general. A symbol such as Willy Brandt kneeling in Warsaw served on the one hand to sustain and to conﬁrm his political power during the era of Ostpolitik and on the other hand affected the . the Greek stadium for the Olympic Games not only fulﬁlled the sporting needs of the athletes but also presented the political and economic consensus of its time.11 This ﬁeld of research regards symbolic power not as a mere counterpart to political decisions. ostensibly a cultural event.9 The article deﬁnes ‘symbolic politics’10 according to the premises of New Political History. II. Modrey emphasising certain rituals and symbols within the ﬁxed course of the ceremony. both countries had tried to organise and in one case had successfully staged the Olympic Games during their respective authoritarian regimes. the special construction methods of sports facilities help to manifest a national identity and to transport an image of the host country to its own people and to the international audience. the national identities of these two states were fractured and both states had to cope with their fascist past during the postwar period. buildings and spaces are uniquely suited to communicate national identity. What we know about the political utilisation of the Olympic Games. Most sport complexes in Rome were already charged with meaning from former times. as an instrument of postwar politics. Architectural symbolism To explain the merging of the economy. Furthermore. the article shows in both cases how important the political and social consensus is concerning the image aimed at and the function of the media in complicating and changing the message.8 But in these studies architecture as a political symbol within the Olympic Games was mostly factored out. Politics are made with and by symbols12 and in many ways they are an important part of political action. rather. the two debates developed along altogether different lines. organisational. international and national intrusion of politics. It has to be concluded that a sports arena of the respective Olympic Games is not just a place where different nations stage a competition. the Rome example demonstrates the use of an existing architectural symbol. the self-image of both states will be described and the meaning of political signs and symbols within the Olympic Games will be explained.7 In recent years. Although there was discussion about the architecture of the Olympic Games in both instances.5 This article focuses on the architecture of the Munich Games of 1972 and of the Olympic Games in Rome in 1960. The examples of Rome and Munich make it possible to show the deployment of an architectural symbol. By looking at the public discussion about the respective stadiums’ architecture. setting off a new discussion about the predetermined meaning. In this context. As Pierre Nora has shown in his groundbreaking ´ study on lieux de memoire.692 E. presents a comprehensive understanding of politics. is largely based on empirical studies that investigate the long tradition of the inﬂuence of politics on the Games. Especially. there has been an increasing amount of literature that reveals the link between modern sports and politics on different levels: the individual. and especially of the Olympic sports complexes. and by highlighting the architecture of the stadium. This can show on the one hand how those symbols still help to represent a national identity in postwar Italy and on the other how this apparently ﬁxed symbol can change. By analysing the architecture.6 The ﬁrst aim of this article is to show the political function of the Olympic Games in general.
in which leading politicians played an important role.23 The seats in the stadium. Different self-conceptions: the Olympic Games of Rome and Munich Italian and German ways of self-representation during the Olympic Games differed signiﬁcantly. In that sense.22 That this in itself was a political statement was never a point of discussion.18 This fact is very important for the example of Rome. as well as dissenting interpretations. cosmopolitan and amicable Germany ran through the whole concept of the Olympic Games in Munich. While the Games in Rome drew heavily on Benito Mussolini’s concept from the 1930s. but rather depends on the context and the time. According to this distinction. ﬁnally. In this context the mass media.14 One question that needs to be asked.15 He offered this retrospective interpretation without discussing how it turned into a symbol and which (political or media or societal) forces were interested and involved in installing it as a symbol. For this purpose.e. but the content – i. the architectural building is the expression and the content is the function. the intended function – can be inﬂuenced by different meanings. the article distinguishes between a ‘sign’ and a ‘symbol’ according to the deﬁnition of Umberto Eco. a sign becomes politically relevant.e. As a result. as the second aim of the article is to use the Rome Games to show that an established symbol is not ﬁxed. First. Of course. and as such a process that can itself be understood as a political action turns the sign into a political symbol. The intention to present to the world a democratic. however. the organising committee. The ﬁrst aim of this paper is to ask why. play a crucial role in constructing national self-representation.17 Journalists help to interpret the signs employed and offer their audience different possible political interpretations and make them negotiable.19 III.´ European Review of History—Revue europeenne d’histoire 693 self-perception of German society in the 1970s. how is a building turned into an architectural symbol? Gavriel D. They illustrate not only the individual paths taken by Italy and Germany after 1945.13 Through symbols. they wanted to set a positive. for example. historians interpret. For the German organising committee in particular this intention had to be reached via non-political Games. In terms of Eco’s distinction.20 the conception of Munich was intentionally contrasted to the former fascist dictatorship in three ways. this interpretation is not deﬁnite and is highly dependent on (individual) knowledge. principles and emotions. Rosenfeld claimed in his well-known examination of Munich’s architecture and the memory of the fascist past that the Olympic stadium in Munich became a symbol for the German democratic state after the Second World War at the time of the Games. but individual approaches to appropriating the Olympics. the Rome case shows nicely how the interpretations changed a symbol under speciﬁc conditions and created a new one. West German counter-example to the communist regime in East Germany. which were often factored out in the investigations. a sign cannot exist without interpretations and it is primarily this analysis that turns a sign into a symbol. i. is who and what make an object or a deed into a political symbol? When and why does the kneeling down become a symbol for a new democratic state? Or to stay with the case at hand. the clothes of the employees and the ﬂag group in the upper meadow ﬁeld were . Second. a political act becomes meaningful and can be used as an instrument of communication. the Munich stadium as a symbol of a democratic state. The paper thus seeks to examine different perceptions of the architecture prevalent in the 1970s and in the contemporary mainstream. they were supposed to oppose National Socialist dictatorship in general and.21 designed the Munich Games as a contrast to the Olympic Games of 1936. experience. 30 years later. The designer Otl Aicher supported this image on a visual level by creating a blaze of colours and pastels of the rainbow.16 Eco distinguishes especially between a ‘denotative sign’ and a ‘connotative architectural symbol’. where and when it is interpreted. The expression of the building is unchangeable.
and especially of the Olympic Stadium in Berlin dating from that time. changed after the terrorist massacre of the Israeli athletes.25 By having the stewards not carry any obvious weapons. could be accurately realised on this vast and undeveloped piece of land. and the meanings it took on through the arrangements of the Olympic Games. which a stadium for 80. under a transparent roof (see Figure 1).32 The construction of the site was aimed at and succeeded in posing an antipode to the exercise ﬁelds.33 which could host more spectators than thought possible. the ‘new’ stadium in Munich should symbolise a reserved attitude instead. which were already leitmotifs of the application.M. In addition. This unity also matched the original idea of understatement and was intended to inspire a cheerful atmosphere in its visitors. Yet after the terrorist attack on the Israeli team the mass media often mentioned the architectural layout as a reason for poor security. concrete and chemistry of the Munich stadium can also be found in other architecture of the postwar era. And the symphony of steel. as well as that of the stadium in Berlin in 1936. the axis architecture of the National Socialist regime. stewards and policemen were not dressed in uniforms but rather in colourful clothes. which hosted the Olympic Games in 1932.30 The area enchanted visitors with a grandiose green corridor.34 The impression of a colossal and oversized complex. is representative of the architectural style of its time: the Berlin stadium architecture is akin to the Memorial Coliseum of Los Angeles. In contrast to the monumental structure of the Berlin Stadium built by Werner March. was avoided by the ground construction and by uniting the three main arenas. Modrey fashioned in this new colour design. the article will focus on architecture as a special feature of the Olympic concept to continue this analysis of the deployment and the handling of symbols and signs in the architectural self-representation. The sign was now construed as a symbol for a disorganised and careless Germany. The blue. The German self-representation did impair the safety of the Israeli team.28 A whole new sports complex was erected four kilometres outside the centre of Munich at the Oberwiesenfeld. They are highly dependent on the context they are read in and on the knowledge with which they are interpreted.694 E.24 In addition. Willi Daume.29 The ideas of ‘Games of the short paths’ and ‘green Games’. this case shows how weak and changeable symbols can apparently be. the natatorium and the sports hall. proposed in October 1965 that Munich vie to host the Games. Thus the intention of the organising committee in agreement with the politicians was consistent with the media coverage and the targeted sign began to turn into a declarative political statement. A lawn stretched around the sports buildings and a newly built lake was designed to contribute to the peaceful and friendly atmosphere intended by the organisers (Figure 1). green and yellow ﬂags were perceived to be ‘refreshing’ instead of ‘sentimental’ or ‘nationalistic’. and the thenmayor of Munich. So the intended sign. In this context. playing with associations of vacation and wilderness instead of military allusions. The press therefore gladly dubbed them ‘safari stewards’.27 In the following. the Olympia Stadium. for example at the . it is important to understand that the architecture of the stadium in Munich. the organising committee also intended to avoid stereotypes of the ‘old Germany’ and to produce the picture of a peaceful Federal Republic. Hans-Joachim Vogel. designed by ¨ Gunther Grzimek.000 viewers might well have evoked.31 ¨ The main goal of the Munich architect Gunter Behnisch in constructing the sports complex was to set a counterpart to 1936. the president of the National Olympic Committee (NOK).26 The result is signiﬁcant: as mentioned in the introduction. (a) The German roof construction of the stadium – modern technology and lightness? At the time of its application Munich had no representative sports complex for such a megaevent. the paciﬁst character was stressed by the fact that the military was not in attendance at the opening ceremony.
But he has also discovered a change in attitude in the 1970s: the former abstinence was supplemented by new demands for equal status.38 This top structure.41 However. The construction was supposed to create an open and transparent atmosphere. German politicians were anxious to present a contained. A correct representation of a modern and cosmopolitan Germany was not only discussed in political circles.40 Steel cables. stadium Camp Nou in Barcelona.43 Thus the materials of the roof construction were not in themselves airy and light. each 81 metres tall. however. which contrasted with the nation’s striving for power in the 1936 Games. which were used for the ﬁrst time on such a large scale. (Figure 2). democratic and optimistic Germany. which was considered revolutionary at that time.39 became an iconic symbol of the Munich Olympics in general before the games started. Tony Judt remarked that. as a result of the forced new orientation after the Second World War and after a phase of total self-discipline. the Munich architecture was supposed to symbolise a modern and powerful Federal Republic.000 square metres of the roof construction were a sign for the mastery of modern technology and economic effectiveness. These attributes of a democratic country were extolled as a behavioural norm and played an important role in judging foreign countries. The 74.´ European Review of History—Revue europeenne d’histoire 695 Figure 1. the Munich roof has to be understood as the selfconﬁdent statement of a modern Germany. German politics ﬂuctuated between those concepts. assembled in an amazing static construction. carried the stadium roof’s 3400 tons. stabilised the large. the cables had to withstand a pressure of 4000 tons. In that decade. Besides the interpretation of a new. built in 1957.42 The foundation stone of the Olympic Stadium was laid on 14 July 1969 and set new worldwide benchmarks: 123 base plates had to be made. which emphasised the contrast between the key attributes ‘lightness’ and ‘light-heartedness’. and the length of the whole cable span was equal to that of several apartment buildings.37 The key phrases ‘self-conﬁdent behaviour’ and an ‘attitude of abstinence’ were carved into stone in the roof construction of the Olympic Stadium of Munich and have been reﬂected excessively in the public discussions concerning the roof construction. pylons. in spite of its airy and meaningful paciﬁc construction. they were. The national and international media debates also focused on terms such as ‘reserve’ and ‘self-conﬁdence’.35 the intended message is also represented in the construction of the Philharmonic concert hall in Berlin. sweeping canopies of acrylic glass.36 The Philharmonic concert hall and the Munich Stadium were meant to symbolise the self-concept of the Federal Republic of Germany in the 1970s. The Olympic-area was designed as an overall concept. cosmopolitan and amicable nation. and added notions concerning the peaceful impression and the .
a journalist at the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ). Modrey Figure 2.49 He reﬂected: Those who have not seen the stadium-of-the-eighty-thousand cannot know Munich! Having made your way through the entrance.1971. Fully content. They want to convey an impression of lightness and merriment and artistic buoyancy.44 The Sydney Sun Herald drew this conclusion in 1971: The Germans are mindful of the image of pomposity they gained from the Berlin Olympics 1936 and are trying hard not to create the same impression this time. Thomas Meyer. having climbed down to the Olympic lakeshore. as the site for peaceful Olympic Games over a quarter century after D-day is an interesting commentary on how quickly nations can forgive and forget. . and Munich. modern Germany. . And then. . The tent as symbol of the Olympic Games: Al Madinas 28. nothing stands in your way of experiencing the tent roof. .51 But the author also accurately describes the reinterpretation of the architecture after the terrorist act.M. this would be expressed mainly by the architecture. But they pushed ahead with their application and their thorough preparation and planning shows the IOC chose wisely. Furthermore. An article in July 1972 honoured the highly technical innovation of the roof as a representation of a new. and the article closes with the prediction that ‘these Games will not be oversized’.50 This impression is also part of the German cultural memory and can be found as a motif in contemporary literature. described his emotions and impressions in his extensive coverage of a competition in the Olympic Stadium. I adjust my sitting position in the anatomically formed green seats (this is also an entirely new grandstand experience). . .45 According to the Sun Herald. sitting in the grass. .10. .’47 These are only two examples of the highly favourable press coverage of the Olympic Games.46 The Irish Independent also recognised the different conceptions and mentioned: ‘The selection of Germany.48 The international press obviously recognised and extolled the different approach the German organisation was striving to achieve and the intended sign began to turn into the designated symbol. it was almost like going on a holiday. .696 E. . . This description can be understood as representative of the German reception of Munich’s Olympic stadium. . . as Ulrike Draesner points out in her novel Spiele. tremendous modernity that made the roof a symbol against gigantism. to get away from anything smacking of heroic gladiatorial struggles.
became a symbol for megalomania. It is interesting to note that the media themselves used the term ‘symbol’ for their description.57 Besides the interpretation of the roof as a symbol of lightness and modernity. inﬂuence and respect they long for? As West Germans prepare to host this year’s Olympic Games and watch their country move nearer United Nations membership.53 The Times. which the German chancellor Willy Brandt tried to moderate by noting that the discussion in the national media would certainly leave a negative image of Germany in foreign countries.56 The debates regarding the roof turned into a public quarrel. stable economy. Apparently after the architecture and the meaning of the sports facilities had been widely covered by the media the intended sign was turned into a symbol.’62 Thus the different media interpretations of the architecture evolved into a political statement and offered the public diverse possibilities of ﬁlling it with content. But there were also other interpretations behind the intended function during the arrangements for the games. This was mainly caused by the difﬁcult and expensive construction of the roof.35 billion. Willy Brandt made the roof itself a political element. And dazzlingly spectacular costs. for example. It apparently became the dominant interpretation. the Olympic construction costs totalled DM 1. The architecture was regarded as a political expression of Germany. which was then also accepted by historians.60 These exemplify the coverage which turned more and more from the roof itself to the analysis of a perceived political statement in general. It is also interesting that after the terrorist act the image of the terrorist on the balcony of the athletes’ room with a stocking over his head supplemented the iconograph of the Munich Olympic tent but did not replace it. But on the other hand the projected aim was reached in symbolising that Germany had returned to the international democratic order after the Second World War. a Nobel Peace Prize chancellor and a powerful voice in the Common Market – will the West German people gain the international recognition. which was primarily intended as a sign for Germany’s new path after 1945. Many illustrated books of the Olympic Games of 1972 featured the Olympic tent and describe it with the same adjectives the organising committee and the politicians had intended. The gradual rise in construction costs raised serious problems for the ambitious roof construction and its idea of understatement.61 This statement is followed by an overview of German history before and after 1945 and the journalist draws this conclusion: ‘The roof can be understood as a symbol for Germans’ position in the world: modern. ‘Big Talk at Munich is the Big Cost of Big Roof’. it can be concluded that an intended sign .´ European Review of History—Revue europeenne d’histoire 697 the media criticised the open and transparent atmosphere of the area as well as the low fences. and therefore turned into a symbol for German behaviour in general. for example. In the end. saw the intention of the simple games endangered by the costs54 and the Melbourne Herald Tribune wrote that ‘all the same these Games will still be dazzlingly spectacular in their own way. Australian newspapers such as: ‘The Monster of Munich’58 and ‘Munich Thinks Big for the Games’59 or by the headline of the New York Times. which was also mentioned in the media. the roof therefore turned into a symbol of gigantism. That said. It can be concluded that on the one hand the architecture.52 The costs of the construction of the whole Olympic area were recalculated at a Figure 400 –500% higher than the initial estimate.’55 The German media worried about falling back into old paradigms of gigantism and massiveness. the Monitor’s UN correspondent assesses their mood. but always aspiring to be the best. These were much discussed as they diminished the security of the Olympic Village. and cosmopolitan. The Boston Christian Science Monitor explained in May 1972: A bustling. By ascribing to the discussions concerning the roof having an opinion-forming effect regarding Germany as a whole. This ﬁnding is exempliﬁed by headlines in. The international press criticised the Germans for turning the Olympic Games into a show of superlatives and saw the reason for this in the Germans’ general affection for monumentality. economically stabilized.
698 E. Mussolini nationalised historical events and produced an Italian myth about state. Therefore the idea of also utilising the impressive architecture for the Olympic Games was virtually unavoidable. Jens Petersen has determined that the year 1943 was an important moment of historical disruption and was therefore also an important moment in the construction of a national self-image.M. turn into an intended symbol.70 Rome’s international image is dominated by its ancient buildings. as Germany did. Thus they used architectural symbols from the past for the current self-representation and tied in old. Instead of devising a new image. where two thousand years before similar contests had taken place. The architecture of representative buildings is able to transfer such political statements and is also perceived as such in political discussions. upgrading older sites built by Mussolini in preparation for the 1944 Olympic Games. the Arch of Constantine. The claim to be a ruling nation was the supporting pillar of the Italian national consciousness for various decades. Totocalcio. the Colosseum or the Forum Romanum. had in fact been used before by Benito Mussolini. Ancient buildings were being made part of the Olympics along with the modern constructions of Pier Luigi Nervi. nation and the new Italian. such as the Thermal Springs of Caracalla.68 In his study on national self-perception. In contrast to the German case. where a whole new sports complex was erected. and the place where humanism and the renaissance were born and blossomed. The incorporation of the ancient buildings in the Rome Olympics offered visitors a remarkable location. the ancient monuments of the Bath of Caracalla enhanced the spirit of gymnastic events and the wrestling matches were located in the Basilica of Maxentius. Italy’s participation in the Second World War on the German side and its plans for colonialist expansion especially in Ethiopia. The Resistenza became the founding myth of the new state and the new society. which he constructed in the 1930s and 1940s.63 Nervi had completed those buildings. Most of the money went into renovating facilities. The transformation depends on different and mostly unforeseeable factors: a sign can be interpreted in several ways and therefore different political symbols can evolve. established symbols of the power and tradition of the Eternal City. Therefore it was possible for Italians to perceive an apparent continuity between historical national traditions and anti-fascist Italy. and was reconstructed by the resistance movement and historical traditions. these symbols were already charged with emotions and meanings. traditional Italy.69 The national awareness erased 20 years of fascism. This line of tradition dating from ancient Rome to modern Italy. With this line of argument. but does not necessarily have to. The setting was dominated by ancient buildings.66 Thus. the majority of the money was raised from the Italian soccer lottery.65 The Italian organising committee wanted to stress continuity between modern times and the ancient past.67 Apparently the Italian government and the Olympic committee wanted to use architectural symbols. Italy reverted to an image that had already existed before the fascist era. which shape the appearance of the city.71 The organising committee concentrated on aesthetics and wanted . (b) Between ancient buildings and modern sports architecture: the Olympics in Rome The stadium in Rome united the contrast always perceived between ‘the old’ and ‘the new’ in a special way. which could symbolise an old. which was utilised by the Italian organising committee.64 In order to not overburden the population with additional taxes. and into planning venues that included ancient monuments as part of the structures. The Italian government spent about $50 million to prepare for the tremendous sports event. Drawing a direct line from the old Roman Empire to the Risorgimento directly into modern times helped to re-establish national self-conﬁdence after the rupture of 1945. the home of the Catholic Church. Modrey can. By referring to the Resistenza movement as a second Risorgimento (the unifying national movement from 1815 to 1870) a new national self-conception arose. It was used to conﬁrm the Italian claim to power as the former centre of the Roman world empire.
Before the end of the Second World War it was called Forum Mussolini. Latin for ‘leader’.’77 One pillar bears the name of Mussolini in large type and the inscription DUX.72 which the press did indeed do. a Communist delegation introduced the matter to the Italian parliament in November 1959. When the petition was unsuccessful. the government replied that Figure 3. This architectural style refers to key stylistic elements of former times and as a result appropriates these older architectural symbols in its execution of architectural self-representation. But in postwar Italy the old meanings were newly discussed and challenged. heroic and athletic statues were central elements of the sports buildings. Apparently it was not the architectural symbols of old Rome which caused a disruption within the discussions about the interpretation. The Foro Italico comprised numerous sports venues. This led to stormy scenes in Rome’s parliament. This sentence is still part of the mosaic in front of the Stadio dei Marmi. The journalists even often emphasised that the grand scenery made organisational mistakes forgettable. During the parliamentary conﬂicts and the public discussions. all typical elements of architecture in a fascist state. Duce. . Some politicians were afraid that the inscriptions would offend foreign athletes and could evoke the impression in Rome’s visitors that the Italians still believed in Benito Mussolini. Largerthan-life.79 However. as well as a great pillar and a mosaic. these inscriptions symbolised strength and power. Duce’ or ‘Many enemies. Other former symbols which were already charged with emotions and meanings from the fascist era even started a parliamentary conﬂict. most importantly the Olympic stadium and the Stadio dei Marmi.´ European Review of History—Revue europeenne d’histoire 699 to connect their Olympic Games in the minds of the international audience with adjectives such as ‘artful’ and ‘elegant’. asking the government under Antonio Segni to state its position.78 During the fascist era. Others included long sentences like: ‘I swear to execute without questioning the orders of the Duce and to serve with all my strength and if necessary with my blood the cause of the fascist revolution. much honour’76 (Figure 3). The Foro Italico is a representative example of the monumental complexes constructed between 1928 and 1938 and of the architecture that was typical of fascism. a title by which Mussolini liked to be addressed (Figure 4).74 These elements caused a parliamentary conﬂict75 because the main settings of the Olympic Games of 1960 were full of memories and relics of Mussolini and the fascist regime. leftists petitioned the Roman City Council in February 1959 to erase fascist inscriptions from buildings and the Stadio dei Marmi on the Foro Italico.73 However. at least one ‘mistake’ was made and was always mentioned: the use of fascist symbols at the Foro Italico. Some of the inscriptions on the mosaic in front of the stadium read: ‘Duce. Those could then and indeed still can be seen on many buildings in Rome.
The Christian Democrat Fernando Tambroni depended heavily on coalition partners to form a government. no matter how dark this fascist period might have been. like his predecessor Antonio Segni. Premier Fanfani was known to despise Italy’s fascist past and ordered the removal of some fascist symbols and inscriptions before the beginning of the Olympics on 25 August. the Democrazia Christiana (DC) had to set up an alliance with a neo-fascist party. The pillar in front of the stadio dei marmi. was forced to ﬁnd a balance between the differing ideas within his own governments as well as with foreign representatives – particularly during the Olympic Games.80 Also the government under Fernando Tambroni. The need to present an anti-fascist image before the world proved more important than the potential risk of displeasing the coalition partner and consequently risking the continuance of the government. in the third Legislative period in March to July of 1960.86 Maybe this need for balance was the deciding factor that made the Italian government pass the order to remove the inscriptions only a few weeks before the start of the Olympic Games. the Movimento Sociale Italiano (MSI).83 The right-wing extremists thus protested against the government’s decision to have some of the inscriptions commemorating the dictatorship deleted from the Foro Italico. But when the government under Premier Amintore Fanfani81 rose to power again on 26 July 1960 (one month before the games started). But in the Italian parliament the leftists also had a powerful voice.84 This public struggle demonstrated the weakness of the Italian government of the time. Maybe the balancing act was to remove only some of the inscriptions. the motion to erase the inscriptions was renewed.82 In a reaction to the erasure of those inscriptions neo-fascists painted slogans praising Mussolini on the banks of the Tiber and other public places night after night.85 so that Tambroni. not all of them. did not venture anything in this case. thousands of foreign tourists saw the inscriptions every year without objecting to them.M. As a result of struggles within its own party.700 E. . it was claimed that the inscriptions were a part of Italian history. and to do so very late. Furthermore. Modrey Figure 4.
Conclusion To host the Olympic Games. the various problems mentioned by the press – the Cold War and the weak foundation of the Italian government – show that neither a sign nor a symbol has single interpretations. but also of the New York Times and the Washington Post. This shows how a symbol can be changed and depends on different interpretations in different times. So the pattern of Soviet trouble is there standing like a dark shadow over the XVII Olympiad. looking to a day when Rome could stage the Olympic Games. a country needs many sports complexes. This behaviour paralleled foreign policy between the USA and Italy. in Italy even the parliament did not agree on the meaning of fascist architectural symbols and their impact on foreign affairs. started the building program in the Forum. .89 The New York Times also seized on familiar patterns of interpretation and supposed the Communists were acting as ‘cheerleaders for the Soviets’.90 Hence. turned into a debate between opposite sides in the Cold War. And a few sentences later.88 They claimed that the Communists and the Soviets were looking for trouble. Munich had to build a whole new sports complex within ﬁve years. but was nonetheless also turned into political action. The Los Angeles Times had reported already in 1959 on these events under the headline ‘Italians Expect Fuss from Russ’. he continued: No one in his right mind would think of doing anything to mar the beauty of this or other Fascist built ediﬁces nearby. . as the journalist Paul Zimmermann put it. Both countries also tried to underscore modern aspects in their . International newspapers recognised that this was a dangerous tightrope walk as well and wrote: ‘The city government took no action and opponents charged it tolerated the inscriptions because it needed Neo-Fascist support. Olympic issues were thus instrumentalised and turned into an international debate about Cold War politics. it turned into a political statement for postwar Italy and its politics of history. While the organising committee in Rome could mostly fall back on existing sports venues. instead. but some also from ancient times. which was marked by a concealment of Italy’s fascist past in order to put Italy on the ‘right side’ of the Cold War. He commented on the situation: Premier Mussolini. the discussion about fascist symbols in the architecture of the Olympic setting. Naturally his name is inscribed.’87 But this was not the only interpretation of events. transferred the issue into a worldwide context and regarded the behaviour of the Italian communists as a typical example of Soviet behaviour. The media converted the struggle about the inscriptions in the mosaics at the Foro Italico into a direct symbol of the Italian government.91 Consequently. but rather both are charged with different content as the media coverage evolves. as they did in Munich when they debated the meaning of a new building. IV. Here an old architectural symbol was used to debate a political matter. which can either already exist or have to be specially constructed only for the few weeks of the sporting event. which originally centred on the question of an appropriate representation of the Italian Republic. The media did not discuss the architectural sign and its interpretation. the fact that the communists wanted the symbols to be erased was criticised. That the Italian government did not erase the fascist symbols was no longer the point of the discussion. While the mosaic symbolised power and force in the time of fascism. Here the media placed this issue in another context. as they did ‘every four years’.´ European Review of History—Revue europeenne d’histoire 701 While in Germany most politicians agreed on the intended sign and it was up to the mass media to offer different interpretations. the architecture of the Italian Olympic Games was politicised in a rather different way than in the case of the Munich Olympic Games in Germany analysed above. . The journalists of the Los Angeles Times. Also. mainly dating from the fascist era.
Katz. The Olympic Games were under the patronage of the German president Gustav Heinemann. Germany hosted the Olympic Games in 1936 and used the event as a forum for national propaganda. 213–65. and the negative experience of the Second World War. 123. 13. Politics as Symbolic Action.” Pilley. Ofﬁcial Report of the Olympic Games. 2005. Furthermore. Landscape of Modern Sport. 10. and on the other hand they were representative of the actual government situation. German minister of the interior.” 68f. along with its architectural realisation. the parliament and the organising committee accepted the fascist inscriptions in the Olympic setting. and expressly symbolised that in the architecture of the roof construction. Politics. Italy did not perceive a problem for its national representation in the fact that Mussolini had also emphasised ancient Rome in his national narrative. While the German debates focused on national aspects. Eco. . and Spectacle in the Olympics and the Football World Cup. While in the Munich case the installing of an architectural symbol was at the centre of the explanations. 16. “Symbolische Politik. the Italian discussions were. Schneider. This area of research is mainly inﬂuenced by Murray Edelmann. 3. Guttmann.702 E. mayor of Munich. For a detailed description of the German case see: Frevert and Haupt. The public still shared the knowledge about the cruelties ¨ and atrocities under the rule of the ‘Fuhrer’ and the ‘Duce’. The Olympics. Space and the City. on the one hand.” Dayan. Christopher Young. However. 19f. Both cases also show the deployment of an architectural symbol. 17. the Rome example could explain how much an installed architectural symbol depends on the time in which it is read. The Games in Berlin or the boycotted Games of 1980 in Moscow and 1984 in Los Angeles have been widely investigated. National Identity and Global Sport Events.olympic. Der Warschauer Kniefall. The Olympic committee was dominated by politicians and people from high society. 12. Ferrara. L’italiani in palestra. ¨ Gohler. and Hans Dietrich Genscher. 1940. The Olympic charter is published on the website of the IOC: http://multimedia. 7. 22. “A Componentional Analysis of the Architectural sign/Column. Modrey architecture. 8. Kalter Krieg. 2. Neue Politikgeschichte. 15. In the case of the Munich and Rome Olympics one also has to bear in mind that the memory of the former fascist states was very much alive. Sport. and vice-presidents included Hans Jochen Vogel. Balbier. which also received a political interpretation through the media. 222f. 16f. Rome applied unsuccessfully for the Games four times (1924. 4. Culture. 1944) under Mussolini. Notes 1. and Alan Tomlinson. 9. Rippon. both examples show how an event which is non-political at ﬁrst glance. The concept ‘symbol’ is not clearly deﬁned. But while Germany wanted to set a distinctive counterpart to its former fascist regime.pdf (accessed July 16. 14.M. 2008). Patrizia Dogliani also explicates in her article about the war monumental how the meaning of the memorials and their intended function changed during Italian history. 1f. Hitler’s Olympics. The interpretation of the symbols employed. Media Events. But she concentrates mainly on the time between 1871 and 1943. Ernst Cassirer has noted that no other concept of aesthetics is so difﬁcult to deﬁne: Cassirer. 6. 18. Houlihan. president of the German Sportbund. Guttmann. “Constructing Memory. and gives only a short overview of the Italian Republic: Dogliani. Bale. Bale. The Olympics. A new view offers the study of Christopher Young. Nora. Sport and International Politics. 19. can be turned into a political symbol. also showed different possibilities for action. 16f. Rosenfeld. The president of the NOK was Willi Daume. Munich and Memory. New York: State University of New York. 21. 20. 1936. 5. Lieux de memoire.org/pdf/ en_report_122. transformed into an international and wider context by relating them to the Cold War discourse. The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms. 11.
“Why Germany spends £185m on Olympic City. 1970.” no. 34. “German Knowhow Ready for Olympic Games.85 million cubic metres of debris were accumulated.” ¨ “Wer das Stadion der Achtzigtausend nicht von innen gesehen hat. to negotiate the Munich agreement with Hitler.” March 17. . 35 (1972): 28– 38. 37. 4. 25. . 30. 1972. “Olympisches Herzklopfen. “Auswartige Reprasentationen. September 6. And even these groups cannot be described as homogeneous: Rothenbuhler. Spiele. war es fast wie Ferien” (translation by the author). 46. 3.” 30f. “Das menschliche an der Olympischen Architektur. 1972. July 15. October 1. between national and international viewers.” 9 – 11. Rosenfeld. “Munich Embroiled over Olympic Tent. See also: Reeve.” no. 703 28. January 1. His father Otto March built the “Deutsche Stadion. “Designing In.” July.” 159f. April 1. 1971. 43.” 140. Marg. Al Madinas. 33. 1968. For example: Kobe Shinbun. Chicago Tribune. between newspapers and radio stations. which always shows the Munich roof as pars pro toto for the Olympic Games. Under and With the Earth. Deutscher Sport. Washington Post. Sydney Morning Herald. Munich and Memory. ¨ ¨ Suddeutsche Zeitung. 1969. One Day in September. “Olympische Sportbauten. “Mounting Costs of Olympics are Decried in West Germany. . 4. Washington Post. 32. “Nachdenken uber die Wechselwirkungen. 12 (1972): 68 –73. “Next Stop Munich. 52. which is undertaken in my dissertation Project “Cultural Re-integration? The Olympic Games of Rome (1960) and Munich (1972) as Transnational Media Event. 31 (1972): 28 – 38. Anschlag. 197. ¨ ¨ See for example the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ): Zorn uber zugellosen Mord. Judt. 48. “Gesamtwerk Olympia. written in the context of the DFG-funded (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) Research Training Group ‘Transnational Media Events from Early Modern Times to the Present. 42. New York Times. 36. Munich and Memory. Ibid. 97. quoted in FAZ.” no. 563. 27. Stadia and Arenas. . . steht dem Zeltdach-Erlebnis nichts mehr im Wege . 44. Die Bauten. 41. ¨ Der Spiegel called the stewards “Safariordner”: “Dos pack’ ma. Der Spiegel quoted Aicher. 26. In 1938 British Prime Minister Chamberlain landed at the Oberwiesenfeld. . 40.” no. Sydney Sun Herald. . 31. After the Second World War.” June 18. “Olympic city where pleasure has become a way of life. Postwar. caricaturing him as a dreaming artist: “Mit Farben kann man Politik machen. “Munich Pushes Ahead for Olympics. The exact construction is described in Grube. 1968. June 22 – 23. New York Times.” which both sons. 50. .” November 16. Dahlke. 47.’ Willi Daume describes this situation very colourfully in his memoirs: Daume. 150. 38. ¨ ¨ Paulmann. Werner and Walter. 1968. A distinction can be drawn between the audience in the stadium. Rosenfeld. Bauten.” August 22. Ist man durch die breiten Publikumsschleusen gelangt. 1968. 156. 1972. 1972. 29. New York Times.” no. 30 1971. Irish Independent. The article only shows an extract of the media analysis. 53. 45. “Munich’72 wants to forget the past. 1972. 1971. August 26. “Architect is First ’72 Olympic Winner. 49.” October 30. The Times. Grube. 31. Mandell.” Beyond doubt the audience is not a homogeneous group. October 28. 1972. 14. This supposition can be documented with extensive international newspaper imagery. 39. See ¨ also his interview with the political magazine Der Spiegel: “Dienen wir uberhaupt einer guten Sache?. 1972. Munchner Merkur. kennt Munchen nicht! . Stadia and Arenas.” April 8. but will be investigated in my dissertation. ¨ Ich richte mich auf der anatomisch geformten grunen Sitzschale (auch das ein ganz neues ¨ ¨ Tribunengefuhl) ein wunschlos zufrieden . 10. .´ European Review of History—Revue europeenne d’histoire 23. Und als ich dann hinuntergeklettert war an das olympische Seeufer und im Gras saß. 35. Deutsche Bauzeitung. 206. 1968. ¨ Scharenberg. The terrorist act and its function within the staging of politics within the Olympic Games cannot be discussed here. 24. Los Angeles Times. 59f. The Nazi Olympics. rebuilt for the Olympic Games 1936: Marg. Djidda. 66f.” July 22.” April 9. 1972.” March 13. “The living room celebration of the Olympics. Behnisch. in front of the TV. no. Draesner. 51. Bode.
“Nachrichten aus der Olympiastadt. 90. 64. 68. New York Times.” August 16. 294. 57. Caporilli. New York Times. “Finance Problems for Munich.” 160. Postwar. 2. 59. 1972. New York Times. 3. 88. CI. 85. 4. quoted in: ` L’Unita. “Wandlungen des italienischen Nationalbewusstseins. Notes on contributor Eva Maria Modrey is a fellow of the research training group “Transnational Media-Events from the Early Modern Times to the Present”.” no. “Manifestazione di protesta al Foro Italico. 11/12 (1969): 17 – 21. 63. “Sind es Ersatzkriege?. 70. 86. Modrey The Times. 89. Papini: Papini. Davis.” July 8. Roma contemporanea. “Italy is Enjoying an Olympic Calm. 1959: 3. ` “giuro di eseguire senza discutere gli ordini del Duce e di servire con tutte le mie Forze e se e necessario con mio sangue la causa nella rivoluzione fascista “ (translation by the author). 290. 81. 73.” July 8. 1969. “Wir sind da so hineingeschlittert. This claim can also be found in the writings of G. 60.” 331.” 10612 –18. New York Times.” 128.” August 9. Olympisches Feuer. 23.” August 11.” February 21. Ottobre 1959. 62. Architektur. affari. The Games of the XVII Olympiad. 75. 38 (September 16. 78. she obtained a MA in history. 1972. New York Times. Camera dei Deputati. “Le memorie della repubblica. Ibid. Australian Women’s Weekly.” no. 67. “Big Talk at Munich is the Big Cost of Big Roof.” 699– 748. “Le memoria delle republika. molto onore” (tTranslation by the author). “Germans’ Sheds. Los Angeles Times. Der Spiegel. “Rome 1960. 65.” July 23. Merwe. October 28. “Italians Expect Fuss from the Russ. “An Afﬂuent West Germany Seeks Acceptance. “Un fatasma al Stadio dei marmi. “Fascist Symbols go for Rome Olympics. Corriere della Sera. Judt. 71.” August 11. Judt. 72. “Seduta del 6. For example. In the third Legislative period (1958 – 1963) the government changed ﬁve times. Die Zeit. 56. Ibid. Telesca.” August 16. and literature from University of Bochum (2007). 66.” September 3. Also mentioned in the parliamentary debate: Camera dei Deputati. Melbourne Herald Tribune. “Tra Beruti e L’Immobiliare.” 344f. “Munich’s £10m Olympic Tent. 1972. “Seduta del 6. 2. L’Europeo. “The Monster of Munich. The Province. “Ein Magherebinier in Rom. Postwar. 1. 87. 1972.” 10613.” 158.” 35. “Incedenti al Foro Italico per la cancellazione delle scritte. 290f. 1960. Italia mia. The topic of her PhD thesis is “Cultural Re-Integration”? – The Olympic Games of Rome (1960) and Munich (1972) as transnational Media-Event. 58. 88f.” October 28.” August 21.” February 21. . Also in the writings of Rudolf Hagelstange. 1959. 55. “Italy is Enjoying an Olympic Calm. “Mussolini Pillar. “Molti nemici. 61. “Il Foro Italico ancora deturpato dall’apologia del Duce. 74. quoted in: New York Times. For example: Der Spiegel.” July 18. “Sport. 77. 80. 36 (1960): 42f. 1959.” June 28.M.704 54.” Los Angeles Times.” August 21. Telesca. 1960. 1960. the Palazzo dello Sport: Thiel-Siling. Romisches Olympia. 83. 9f. politica. 14 – 18. 1972. Ibid. 33. 1969. “Rome 1960. The Times. New York Times. Fanfani succeeded Tambroni on 26 June 1960 and was in this position until 1 May 1963. Vidotto. FAZ. 1959.” May 14. “People Who Play in Glass Houses.” May 24. 1960.” no.” August 5. Justus-Liebig University Gießen. “Munich Thinks big for the Games. 76. Ottobre 1959.” 52. Christian Science Monitor. “Ofﬁcial Report. Before coming to Justus Liebig University in 2007. Paul Zimmermann. 1960. “Fascist Symbols go for Rome Olympics.” no. 31 (1972): 28 – 38. 69. 4.” August 9. “ Italians Expected Fuss from the Russ. 1960. ¨ Großbolting. 91. E. Petersen. 1972. New York Times. 79. 1960): 4. ¨ Großbolting. 84. 1960. Il Foro Italico e lo stadio Olympico. 1959. “Mussolini Pillar. “Olympisches ¨ Fazit. 1972. 82. Il Messaggero.
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